If you’re importing or exporting product on wooden pallets, you need to know if you need to meet the requirements of ISPM 15 Regulation of wood packaging material in international trade.

Before we get into what the requirements are, let’s just go over what the purpose of them is.

The ISPM 15 Regulation of wood packaging material in international trade, is a Standard that is recognised around the world.

The Standard is written by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and International Plant Protection Convention and it was last published in 2019.

ISPM 15 is a phytosanitary Standard. Phytosanitary are controls for plant health and ISPM 15 is specifically designed to stop the spread of pests that would have a negative impact on forests and biodiversity.

To find out whether the country you are exporting to, requires compliance to ISPM 15; check the ISPM 15 Global Exporters Guide. You’ll notice UK is not on the list, but if you’re importing into the UK you do have to follow the requirements as detailed on Wood packaging goods for import and export.

If you need to comply with ISPM 15 and you don’t then your product is at risk of rejection or even disposal.

If you do need to comply, here’s what it means.

ISPM 15 requirements

These rules apply to all forms of wood packaging of more than 6mm in thickness and it means that the wood has to be treated. The treatment is a combination of debarking the wood and either applying heat or chemicals, which will remove or kill any pests present in the wood.

ISPM15 provide a set of approved treatments, each of which have a code which has to be applied to the packaging, so that it can visually identified as compliant. These are:

  • Conventional steam or dry kiln heat chamber; code ‘HT’
  • Dielectric heating; code ‘DH’
  • Methyl bromide treatment; code ‘MB’
  • Sulphuryl fluoride treatment; code ‘SF’

Applying the coding

The wood must be coded so that it’s:

  • Legible
  • Doesn’t rub off or transfer onto other surfaces
  • Placed where it can be seen, on at least two sides

The coding must include the:

The coding must be displayed like one of the examples below (click each image to see a larger version).

ISPM 15 Regulation of wood packaging - example 1
ISPM 15 Regulation of wood packaging - example 2
ISPM 15 Regulation of wood packaging - example 3
ISPM 15 Regulation of wood packaging - example 4
ISPM 15 Regulation of wood packaging - example 6
ISPM 15 Regulation of wood packaging - example 6

If you have any information you can add to this article, that will help your fellow techie’s – please do share by adding it to the comments below.

Have your say…

7 thoughts on “ISPM 15 Regulation of wood packaging material in international trade

  1. Someone somewhere in the supply chain sowed the seed of “imports from the EU must comply with ISPM 15”.
    We could never understand the reasons for this.
    This document and its links suggest otherwise.
    Is that correct?

    1. Hi Chris,
      I don’t think it’s particularly clear to be honest. If you read the linked UK Gov page, it says that if you import product into the UK from the EU “you can specify less strict standards” – but then it goes on to say that wood can be bark free or have a plant passport. It seems that all pallets entering the UK will be checked to the same standards. So if you don’t apply ISPM 15 standards, you’re at risk of the load being rejected at the border.
      My view therefore would be that ISPM 15 does apply to EU imports into the UK.

  2. Hi,
    We deliver from England to Republic of Ireland (ROI) and we have been advised by our customer that they need Heat Treated Pallets (HTP) from January 1st. They also said even for Northern Ireland (NI) we need to send HTP. I’m not sure if that is just a customer preference or if that then makes it easier for them to move stock internally from NI to ROI or indeed if this is one of the new regulations, i.e. all goods leaving mainland need to be on HTP for crossing the waters?.

    1. Hi Sharon,
      I think this is because after 1st Jan we are no longer part of the EU. The ISPM 15 regulations state that any imports into the EU from a non-EU Country (which we will then be) must comply.
      Although NI is in the UK, given it’s border with Ireland and therefore the EU, a lot of the EU requirements apply to them too – because of the risk of them going across the border.
      Now we have a deal – who knows what will and won’t still apply though!
      I hope that helps.

      1. Thanks Kassy, yes that makes sense.
        The pallets we have bought carry the branded Heat treated logo on them and our supplier sent 1 certificate for the 20 pallets we ordered. We do not do much exporting. Can you tell me if we need to send the certificate with the delivery of our goods on those 20 treated pallets please? to be honest there is nothing to link those pallets to the certificate.
        Also I think it seems open to misinterpretation. We also buy recycled/reclaimed pallets for our local deliveries. These are pallets that have been constructed from other broken pallets. Some of these component bits have the heat treated stamp on them but this when combined with other bits of pallets , which are not heat treaded, could be misleading indicating the logo brand applies to the whole pallet, when really it doesn’t. We store our HT pallets in a separate area to avoid mix up but in this world of TACCP VACCP its open to misuse.

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