The U.S. government regulates the import of all wood and wood-containing products into the U.S. And, because these items can carry and introduce harmful pests, their import is tightly monitored. Material made of wood that is used as packaging (such as crates, pallets, dunnage, etc.) is also subject to import regulations.
Requirements for importing WPM
Most wood packaging material (WPM) brought into the U.S. must have been treated using heat or chemicals prior to import in order to prevent the transmission of timber pests. The treated WPM must display a visible, legible, and permanent mark certifying this treatment in accordance with international standards (as per the International Standards of Phytosanitary Measures).
Any imported WPM found to be lacking appropriate markings or infested with a timber pest is considered in violation of U.S. regulations. The responsible party (the importer, carrier, or bonded custodian) must take the appropriate action for handling the material and is responsible for any costs or charges associated with its disposition.
Certain WPM is exempt from the requirements for treatment and certification – for example, wood packaging made wholly from processed wood (plywood, oriented strand board, fibreboard, etc.) and those with a thickness of less than 6mm.
A full list of exempted WPM – as well as other Q&As – can be found in this U.S. Customs document (scroll to the bottom of page 7 for the section on WPM exemptions).
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is about to introduce a change to how penalties are issued for WPM violations.
Effective November 1, 2017, responsible parties with a single documented WPM violation may be issued a penalty under Title 19 United States Code (USC) § 1595a(b) or USC § 1592. This is a change from the previous published threshold of five violations. This also means there will no longer be a yearly reset for calculating repeat violations. Instead, each WPM violation carries the risk of incurring a penalty.
If you import goods into the U.S, you should make certain that the supplier or exporter has properly treated and marked all wood packaging material prior to shipping. This will ensure your shipment is in compliance with U.S. regulations and prevent your shipments from being delayed at the border.
For more information…
For information on WPM from a Canadian perspective, see the WPM FAQ on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s website.
See also our past blog post on importing wood products into Canada.
We can help
Contact your customs broker to make sure you meet the requirements for importing wood packaging material. Our experienced professionals can help you remain compliant in this and all other customs requirements.
Information provided by: U.S. Customs Brokerage Dept. - Cole International