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Dos and Don’ts of ISPM15: Walking the Compliance Tightrope

9th February 2018

Wood is a key material for export packing, and is widely used when packaging cargoes across international trade. If you are packing with wood, you need to know about ISPM15, or to give the standards their full title - International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures Publication No. 15.


What is the purpose of ISPM15?

The standards are there to provide criteria for regulating wood packaging material, and have been created to combat the spread of timber pests across the world through the regulation of dunnage and timber packing used in international trade.

It is always preferable to use a professional Export Packing service such as the one provided by IES. But when you need to make alterations to your cargo independently there are ways in which you can fall foul of ISPM15. So how do we make ISPM15 a friend rather than a foe?  In this article, we will advise on some Dos and Don’ts when seeking to comply with ISPM15, helping you to walk the ‘compliance tightrope’:

DO stamp treated wood with the ‘HT’ stamp. This is essential to mark out wood packaging material that is in an acceptable condition to be used for packing in international trade.

DON’T pack anything with old wood into an HT crate. You might think you are ISPM15 compliant after your crate and bracing is ready, but by packing additional wood inside you are running the risk of jeopardising your compliance, especially if the wood is old.

DO add the specific stamp of the company you appoint for export packing to all wood which is added to block or brace a crate. It is irrelevant whether it came from the originator (i.e. the company who conducted the export packing) or not.

DON’T stamp wood packaging material with ‘HT’ unless you are 100 per cent sure that it has been heat treated.

DO remember that dunnage – that is, any low cost wood or waste material which uses elements of wood used to augment the securing of a cargo – comes under ISPM15, too. That means any dunnage you are using must have been heat treated whether it is new, repaired or remanufactured wood.

DON’T use repaired or remanufactured wood packaging material without making sure it has been retreated. This includes the removal of all previous ISPM15 marks before marking the material again.

DO mark wood packaging material on two opposite surfaces, and ensure that the marks are fully visible when the packaging material is in use.

DON’T use orange or red for marking unless your cargo is considered hazardous or dangerous.

DO your paperwork. Every volume of different size wood that makes up a crate has to be accounted for and each different size of timber must have a certificate.

DON’T rely on unaccredited export packing services. Professional export packing services operate under the Wood Packaging Material Marking Programme  and can guarantee ISPM15 is complied with along the supply chain – from the sawmill to the wood supplier and on to the Export Packing service itself.

So there are some considerations to bear in mind when using wood packaging material for your cargoes. Failure to comply with ISPM15 could see your cargo turned back, or land you with a heavy fine. But remember, you can stay on the right side of ISPM15 and give yourself peace of mind by using export packing specialists such as IES while also being vigilant when independently placing any kind of wood material into your crates.

Efficient export packing allowed Pirate Studios to grow their business into Europe. Read about our speedy Export Packing service for the British studio network.