Wood Packing Regulations

As you may be aware, it is forbidden to ship untreated wooden packaging to certain countries. Wood materials used to ship goods between countries are subject to quarantine regulations in order to prevent the spread of certain insects and diseases around the world. This comes in the form of ISPM 15 – the International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures. From 1 March 2005 consignments entering the European Union must comply with the International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15 (ISPM15). This sets out the guidelines for regulating wood packaging material used in international trade.

Unsworth Global Logistics has 41 years experience in the shipping industry, which means we know a thing or two about using wood packing material in line with ISPM 15 regulations.

ISPM 15 requirements apply to all species of hardwood (non-coniferous) and softwood (coniferous) packaging materials, such as pallets and crates etc. Products exempt from the ISPM 15 are made from alternative material, such as:

  • solid wood thinner than 6mm
  • paper, including compressed paper
  • plastic
  • Manufactured/derived wood products (e.g. plywood, particle board, oriented strand board or veneer).

The ISPM 15 standard allows for two treatment options of wood products. Wood must be treated either with heat or fumigated using methyl bromide, and must also be labelled as ISPM 15 compliant.

1)  Heat Treatment (HT) ‹ wood packaging material should be heated in a schedule that achieves a minimum core temperature of 56°C for a minimum of 30 minutes, e.g. by kiln drying (KD). Chemical pressure impregnation (CPI) is approved only if the required HT specifications are achieved, which is not generally the case.

2)  Methyl Bromide (MB) Fumigation ‹ the wood packaging material should be fumigated with methyl bromide depending on concentration, duration and temperature.

Countries Requiring Compliance with ISPM 15 Regulations

Goods landing in designated countries require timber and pallet packaging materials to be treated and stamped in accordance with the UK Wood Packing and Material Marking Programme (UKWPMMP). Many, though not all, countries require wood packing to be specially treated in line with ISPM 15 or they will reject delivery.

The countries currently requiring wood packing to be in line with ISPM 15 regulations are:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • European Community
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • Guyana
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kenya
  • Republic of Korea
  • Lebanon
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Nicaragua
  • Nigeria
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Russia
  • Seychelles
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Switzerland
  • Syria
  • Taiwan, Penghu and Matsu
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • USA

This list may be subject to change. Further information on the countries who have adopted the ISPM 15 can be obtained from the Forestry website.

Exporters’ Duties

If you use wood packaging to export your goods from the UK, you must check if the destination country requires ISPM 15 control measures. These measures are standard globally and it is recommended that you subscribe to the ISPM 15 guidelines, regardless of whether your current export market requires them. Alternatively, you can use plastic or compressed paper, which are not subject to the wood packaging regulations.


In order to prove the wood packing has undergone the required quarantine procedures, it must be permanently and legibly marked on two opposite sides.

The ISPM 15 mark is split into four sections. The left-hand section takes up a quarter of the whole mark and comprises the IPPC logo. The rest of the mark is split up into three horizontal sections. The top section is reserved for the unique UKWPMMP registration number. This is composed of:

  • The ISO 3166 two-letter country code (e.g. GB for United Kingdom)
  • A regional identifier
  • A registration number issued by the regional phytosanitary authority to the packaging container manufacturer.

The middle section shows the importer and exporter what has been done with the wood, for example:

  • DB: debarking
  • HT: heat-treated
  • MB: Methyl Bromide fumigated.

Therefore, DB-HT would mean the wood packing has been debarked and heat-treated. The final section is for the Forestry Commission’s logo.

Unsworth Global Logistics are happy to assist with or provide more information on ISPM 15 regulations. Please email us at enquiries@unsworth.uk or call +44 (0) 20 8539 8899 to speak to a member of our friendly team.

Want to learn more about shipment regulations and export controls? Read more here!