What Are the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures Guidelines?

When it comes to working with certain materials, especially shipping materials, there are important regulations that you must be aware of and follow in order for your materials to be accepted as “shipping material”.

For example, wood is a very common raw material that is used to create pallets, crates and boxes, which can be used for international and domestic shipping. This is called wood packaging material (WPM) and has careful regulations for how it must be treated prior to international use. This regulation is known as ISMP15, or the International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures, publication number 15.

What is ISMP15?

As mentioned, ISMP15 is the regulation for WPM. This set of regulations was originally implemented by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) in 2002 and essentially details the minimum required treatment for WPM.

The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in accordance with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) enforce these regulations.

What is the Purpose of ISMP15?

ISMP15 is actually a very important regulation because it focuses on preventing the worldwide spread of pests or diseases that may be living within the wood. Only wood that is properly treated with either a heat treatment or methyl bromide can be stamped and branded with the appropriate markings (example shown below). Without the correct treatment or markings, a WPM may not be accepted as a shipping material.

What is Considered a WPM?

Just about any material that consists of wood could pose a potential risk to an international ecosystem or plant society. Wood materials that are thicker than 6mm will require treatment. The exception to this is products made from alternative materials, such as paper or wood panel products like hardboard or plywood. Additionally, WPM made from thin wood (less than 6mm), processed woods, reconstituted wood products, or veneer may be exempt from ISMP15 regulations.

What Are the Acceptable Treatment Methods?

At this time, the only acceptable methods of treatment for WMP in the United States are limited to two options: heat treatments or chemical fumigation.

Heat treatment requires that the core is heated to 132˚F (56˚C) for a duration of 30 minutes. This is the most environmentally-friendly choice. The other option is chemical fumigation using Methyl Bromide. Similar to the process of tenting your house, this requires the wood to be exposed to the chemical and then aerated to reduce the toxicity levels.

ISPM15 Markings

All WPM must be accurately marked and stamped with the appropriate labeling to indicate it has been properly treated as per ISPM15 regulations. All treated WPM will have the IPPC mark.

ispm15 markings
  • The XX will indicate the two-letter ISO country code.
  • The 0000 will be the unique identification mark of the wood treatment agent or manufacturer.
  • The YY will indicate the type of treatment (either HT or MB).

What Happens If Something Is Not Properly Treated?

In the event that a WPM that has been improperly treated or not treated at all arrives at a shipping facility, it will be addressed as per the destination country’s standards. Each country is different.

The goods may be fumigated, including the contents, and billed at the shipper’s expense. In other cases, the shipment may be denied entirely and be subject to a whole slew of fees and even additional shipping costs. You can also run the risk of having your items confiscated and then re-exported at a premium rate or worse, being dumped or incinerated. In any case, it is completely the shipper’s responsibility for not properly treating their materials.

How Do I Learn More?

At Promptus, LLC we have a number of Licensed Customs Brokers available to help clients with issues such as shipping materials and following regulations. It is important to follow every step accordingly, which can be hard if you aren’t familiar with CBP systems and regulations. That’s where we come in! We work closely with our clients to fulfill their freight forwarding needs in all aspects. Call us today at 1-877-776-6799 for more information and a quote.