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Packaging Material

General Requirements

Cargo arriving in the European Union after March 01, 2005 has to comply with the requirements for wood packaging under ISPM 15.

The standard has established guidelines for wood packaging material in international trade, indicating that:

  • All wooden packaging must be bark free

  • All wooden packaging material must have been subjected to a recognized method of treatment (heat treatment or fumigation)

  • To prove compliance with the standard requirements, the wood shall bear a mark

Requirement of further documentation will be at the discretion of individual member states, communicated as provisions are published.
Qualified treatment must be marked on the packaging, showing details of the processing agent. This has to be arranged by the shipper prior to stuffing and delivery of the container to the terminal.


  • Fumigation (MB) with methyl bromide in an enclosed area for at least 16 hours at certain dosages. Following fumigation, fumigated products must be aerated to reduce the concentration of fumigant below hazardous

  • Heat-treatment  (HT) to achieve a minimum wood core temperature of 56 °C for a minimum of 30 minutes.  Such treatments may employ kiln-drying, chemical pressure impregnation, or other treatments that achieve this specification through the use of steam, hot water, or dry heat.

These guidelines cover materials that are not manufactured, including pallets, boxes, cable drums, crating, cases, load boards, spacers, pallet collars and skids which can be present in almost any imported consignment.

Manufactured wood packaging made wholly of wood-based products such as plywood, particle board, oriented strand board or veneer that have been created using glue, heat and pressure or a combination thereof should be considered sufficiently processed to have eliminated the risk associated with the raw wood.

The importation or movement in-transit of untreated non-manufactured wood packaging materials from any area of the world is prohibited.  

Marking for approved measures:

The mark shown below is to certify that the wood packaging material that bears the mark has been subjected to an approved measure.

The mark should at minimum include the:

IPPC Symbol (as reproduced above);

XX  = ISO two letter country code (e.g. Germany = DE)

000 = the  unique registration number assigned for the company that
 manufactured or treated the wood used for the wooden packaging;

YY  = IPPC abbreviation disclosing the type of treatment (e.g. HT for “Heat
 treatment” or MB for “Methyl Bromide”).

Markings should be:

  • according to the model shown here

  • legible

  • permanent and not transferable

  • placed in a visible location, preferably on at least two opposite sides of the article being certified

The use of red or orange should be avoided since these colours are used in the labelling of dangerous goods.

All components of recycled, remanufactured or repaired wood packaging mate-rial must be treated and contain the marks of the facility approved to perform the re-treatment.

Division of cost according to Incoterms

According to Incoterms 2000, it is the obligation of shipper to provide at his own expense packaging and to arrange for appropriate marking (unless it is usual for the particular trade to make the goods of the contract description available un-packed).

With fumigation being a part of the packaging, it is in case of all contract terms the responsibility of shipper to arrange packaging and marking.


In recent years,  there has been increasing concern about the spread of pests, such as the Asian long-horn beetle and the Pine Wood Nematode, since wood packaging material made of unprocessed raw wood provides a pathway for the introduction and spread of such pests. A few years ago there was a major incident, when the Asian long-horn beetle was discovered in the U.S.

Having made its way there in the wood packaging imported from China, with the result that avenues of trees in Chicago and New York had to be immediately felled so as to control the spread of this pest. The pest has not yet been eradicated and felling continues.

Although the necessary introduction of Phytosanitary regulations will inevitably lead to an increase in the cost of wooden pallets and packaging, this increase will still result in wood packaging being considerably cheaper than alternatives, such as plastic packaging.

At the present time, a large number of nations (Australia, China, India, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the USA) announced the implementation of ISPM15 even though regulations may differ.  Specific regulations apply for importation in Brazil and Argentina. The members of the European Union will require to comply with ISPM15 for all imports from Non-European origins.

It is, therefore, imperative to all users and purchasers of wooden packaging that they plan now, so as to ensure that their wood packaging used in future shipments is fully compliant with the regulations.

IPPC  (“International Plant Protection Convention”), an international treaty relating to plant health, to which 127 governments (as of 26 February 2004) currently adhere. The Convention has been depos-ited with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Na-tions (FAO). The purpose of the IPPC is to secure common and ef-fective action to prevent the spread and introduction of pests of plants and plant products, and to promote appropriate measures for their control.

NPPO (“National Plant Protection Organisation”), the official services es- tablished by governments to discharge the functions specified by the IPPC

RPPO  (“Regional plant protection organizations”) which may function as coordinating bodies on a regional basis.

ISPM15  International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures

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