European Union regulations on phytosanitary certificates and the handling of timber and wood packaging materials (WPM) have created some confusion for many businesses. There are questions concerning the trade in timber and WPM between businesses and the certification required.
The 1951 International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) is an international treaty overseen by the United Nations through the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Its aim is to prevent and control the spread of infestation of plants and plant products that are part of international trade. It also covers containers, packaging materials, soil, vehicles and food. As of 2013, the treaty had 179 signatory states.
Each signatory state undertakes to establish a competent authority the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) to oversee the certification of trade in the products covered under the treaty. In Britain, the competent authority is the Forestry Commission. Anyone conducting business outside of the European Union will need a phytosanitary certificate issued by the NPPO if they export the following: trees, wood, bark, soil or forest tree seed; non-manufactured wood products such as pacing cases, box, crates drums and wooden pallets; any used forestry machinery.
The NPPO will require full information about the products and their destination before it issues a certificate. The trader has to declare: the country of destination; the means of transport and the port of entry for the product; the species of wood used, except for WPM; any treatment applied to the wood, such as heat treatment, fumigation or kiln drying; a description of the wood products and their quantity.
In some countries, traders will also need an import licence issued by that country's NPPO.
Trade Outside of EU
If a trader is importing goods from outside of the EU and Switzerland, he will need a re-forwarding certificate from his country's NPPO. This means that he has to send the original certificate that was shipped with the imported goods, or sufficient information for NPPO officials to trace it.
Further FAO Certification
The FAO has also produced an International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures No 15 to regulate the international trade in wood packaging material. This was recognised by the EU in 2004. It stipulates how timber should be heat-treated and marked with the ISPM 15 to demonstrate this. The heat treatment applies to wood pallets as well as other packaging material and is required throughout the EU.
However, a pallet maker must be registered with his own country's NPPO to use ISPM 15-compliant timber and wood products to comply with the FAO heat-treatment regulations.
If a timber trader supplies compliant heat-treated wood to a pallet or case maker who is not NPPO-registered, the final wooden products are not compliant under the FAO and EU regulations. Only a NPPO-registered pallet or case maker who is also registered with the FAO's heat-treatment mark can produce a fully compliant wooden product. A non-NPPO-registered pallet maker cannot make use of certified wood or WPM. If he does, his final product is not compliant with either EU or FAO regulations.