The Canadian government regulates the import of all wooden products and wood-containing products into Canada. And, because these items can carry and introduce harmful pests, their import is tightly controlled.
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) works closely with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to prevent the introduction of invasive pests to Canada.
Importers of goods made of wood or containing wooden components are required to provide specific information about those goods before importing.
What sort of information is required?
A phytosanitary certificate is probably the most important part of the import documentation required for these items. (Phytosanitary is a term used to denote agricultural goods intended for import that do not carry pests or pathogens that could be introduced to another country.) It is an official document issued by the plant protection organization of the exporting country, certifying that the plant products it covers are free from pests and conform with the phytosanitary regulations of the importing country.
The CFIA made some changes to Canada’s phytosanitary certificates in early 2016, the details of which can be read on the CFIA’s website.
What types of wood products can be imported?
Various CFIA directives describe the import requirements for different wood products. For example:
- Wood Packaging Material is covered under Directive D-98-08 (some easily digestible information on this directive is provided here).
- Firewood is covered under Directive D-01-12.
- Non-processed wood and other non-propagative wood products from areas other than the continental U.S. is covered under Directive D-02-12, and includes:
- non-tropical lumber
- tropical lumber
- wood with bark attached
- wood chips
- bark chips
- bamboo products
- decorative wood items
- dry cones
- a full list of included items can be found here
- Wood products from areas of the continental U.S. are regulated in other CFIA Directives including D-94-22, D-97-10, D-98-09, D-99-03, D-01-01, D-03-08, and D-07-05.
What information is needed when importing wood items?
The exact information required can vary depending on an item’s thickness, composition, origin, construction and whether it has any bark attached. Most wooden articles, however, will require one or more of the following:
- A Plant Protection Import Permit, issued by the CFIA
- A Phytosanitary Certificate, certified by the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) of the exporting country
- A Phytosanitary Certificate for Re-export, certified by the USDA
What items are exempt from these requirements?
Wood items made wholly of processed wood materials are exempt. “Processed wood materials” are products that are a composite of wood constructed using glue, heat and pressure, or any combination thereof (as per the International Standards For Phytosanitary Measures).
Processed wood materials are less likely to carry and introduce pests so are not subject to the same stringent import requirements as unprocessed wood. However, they are still subject to inspection at the border and must be declared at the time of entry into Canada.
Examples of processed wood include aspenite, masonite, plywood, veneer, fiberboard, particle board, oriented strand board, sawdust, and waferboard.
The following products are also exempt from the requirements:
- wood packaging materials made entirely from thin wood (6mm or less in thickness)
- specific barrels for wine and spirits that have been heated during manufacture (check D-98-08 for conditions)
- gift boxes for wine, cigars and other commodities made from wood that has been processed and/or manufactured in a way that renders it free of pests
- wood shavings, sawdust and wood wool used to stabilize a commodity
- wood components permanently attached to freight vehicles and containers (e.g. flat racks)
The CFIA directives for wood packing material and non-processed wood materials include lists of exempted items. Because the list of exempted items and the requirements for other wood items can change over time, it’s always best to check with your customs broker to be sure what is required before you import.
What if imported wooden items are found to be non-compliant with the requirements?
The CFIA requires that any regulated material not meeting the import requirements be removed from Canada or disposed of in a manner approved by the CFIA.
Any regulated material found to be infested with a pest or to have signs of live pests may be treated prior to being ordered for removal from Canada or disposed of in a manner approved by the CFIA.
All costs associated with non-compliant commodities are the responsibility of the importer.
This is complicated… Help!
Fortunately, you don’t have to be an expert in all of this to import wood products. You do have to know that you’re responsible for documenting and adhering to import requirements, but there are professionals available to help you understand what exactly you need to do.
Our helpful, professional customs brokers can help make your import experience a breeze.
Information provided by: Canadian Customs Consulting Dept. - Cole International