ISPM 15 for Export frequently asked questions

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What is ISPM 15?

ISPM 15 is the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15—Regulation of wood packaging material in international trade. It represents the first international commodity based standard and sets out criteria for regulating wood packaging material used in international trade

The full text of this standard is available from the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures.

Why was ISPM 15 developed?

ISPM 15 was developed to address the global spread of timber pests by regulating the movement of timber packing and dunnage used in international trade. ISPM 15 describes phytosanitary measures that are designed to reduce the risk of the introduction and/or spread of quarantine pests associated with timber packaging material.

Who developed and endorsed ISPM 15?

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) addresses plant health and safety through the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). The IPPC is an international treaty administered by the FAO and implemented through the co-operation of member governments. Australia is a member government or 'contracting party' to the treaty.

As for all other International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs), the IPPC Standards Committee guided coordinated the development ISPM 15 over a period of time through an agreed and defined process of draft development and contracting country consultation.

ISPMs are recognised as the basis for phytosanitary measures applied by members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) under the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the SPS Agreement). Australia has been a WTO member since 1995.

What wood packaging material does ISPM 15 apply to?

ISPM 15 applies to coniferous (softwood) and non-coniferous (hardwood) raw wood packaging material. This includes pallets, dunnage, crating, packing blocks , drums, cases, spools/reels, bulk heads, load boards, pallet collars and skids.

The following articles are considered low risk and are exempt from the provisions of the standard:

  • wood packaging made entirely from thin wood (6 mm or less in thickness)
  • wood packaging made wholly of processed wood material such as plywood, particle board, oriented strand board or veneer that has been created using glue, heat or pressure, or a combination thereof
  • veneer peeler core
  • barrels for wine and spirit that have been heated during manufacture
  • 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
  • sawdust, wood shavings and wood wool
  • wood components permanently attached to freight vehicles and containers.

Note: Not all types of gift boxes or barrels are constructed in a manner that renders them pest free, and therefore certain types may be considered to be within the scope of this standard. Where appropriate, specific arrangements related to these types of commodities may be established between importing and exporting National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs).

Note: Importing countries may apply specific conditions to wood–based products. Exporters are advised to confirm importing country requirements relating to these commodities prior to export.

Does ISPM 15 apply to veneer peeler core?

Veneer peeler core is not regulated under the ISPM 15 standard. Exporters may face difficulties when it is used to manufacture pallets/crates as the wood is no longer readily identified as veneer peeler core. As a result, when a consignment arrives is an overseas country the packaging material may be viewed as being untreated. This may lead to the packaging being ordered for treatment on arrival or possibly the rejection of the entire consignment.

How does ISPM 15 affect me?

If you use wood packaging material in the export of commodities of any kind into countries that have implemented ISPM 15, then you will need to ensure that the wood packaging in the consignment complies with the standard.

Which countries have implemented ISPM 15 for imports?

Many member countries of the IPPC, including Australia, have implemented ISPM 15. Countries that have implemented ISPM 15.

Note: The list of countries that have implemented ISPM 15 is provided as a guide only. Exporters are encouraged to confirm the importing country's requirements for wood packaging prior to export.

What is ISPM 15 compliant wood packaging?

Wood packaging that has been either heat treated or fumigated with methyl bromide to the specification given in ISPM 15 and bears the internationally recognised certification mark.

Only certified treatment providers and/or wood packaging manufacturers can apply the internationally recognised certification mark.

What happens if wood packaging material that does not meet the requirements of ISPM 15 is exported?

If wood packaging material is exported to countries that have implemented ISPM 15 and it is not marked appropriately or it shows signs of infestation, then the importing country may order the wood packaging material to be treated or disposed of, or the consignment may be refused entry.

Where can I purchase ISPM 15 compliant wood packaging?

Only companies that are certified under the Australian Wood Packaging Scheme for Exports (AWPCS) can produce ISPM 15 compliant wood packaging.

What is the Australian Wood Packaging Certification Scheme (AWPCS)?

ISPM 15 specifies that the National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) of the exporting country is responsible for ensuring procedures and systems are in place prior to export to verify that the requirements set out in the standard have been met.

The AWPCS is a certification scheme developed by AQIS to enable Australian treatment providers and/or wood packaging manufacturers to produce wood packaging material that meets the requirements of ISPM 15.

Under this scheme, certified wood packaging manufacturers and/or treatment providers who meet the requirements of ISPM 15 are authorised by AQIS to apply an internationally recognised mark to wood packaging material.

Who is eligible to participate in the AWPCS?

The AWPCS is available to any Australian treatment provider (either heat treatment or fumigation) or wood packaging manufacturer that can meet the requirements of ISPM 15.

Is participation in the AWPCS mandatory?

Participation in the scheme is not mandatory. The AWPCS is one option available to assist exporters in meeting importing country requirements.

How does the AWPCS work?

AQIS has the overarching responsibility for the AWPCS and issues certification numbers for use by certified Australian treatment providers and/or wood packaging manufacturers.

The Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ) accredits third party certification bodies.

Certification bodies assess applications from treatment providers and/or wood packaging manufacturers and conduct onsite audits.

Certified treatment providers and/or wood packaging manufacturers apply the internationally recognised ISPM 15 mark to wood packaging material which includes the AQIS issued certification number.

What is the definition of 'manufacturer' under the AWPCS?

For the purposes of the AWPCS, a company or an individual is recognised as a manufacturer if they undertake activities that constitute the construction (manufacture) of a finished article of wood packaging (for example, nailing pieces of timber to construct a frame or support structure, constructing crates or pallets).

Individuals/companies that undertake such activities must be certified under the AWPCS.

What does an ISPM 15 internationally recognised certification mark look like? What do the symbols in the mark mean?

Wood packaging material bearing the stamp or mark below is certified as being ISPM 15 compliant. It may be stamped or branded to the wood packaging material.

ISPM 15 mark

image of the certmark 

An ISPM 15 internationally recognised certification mark must include the following:

  • IPPC certification symbol – this is a registered trade mark and fraudulent use is a breach of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

  • XX: represents the two letter ISO country code (AU for Australia).

  • 000: represents the unique certification number issued by AQIS to the treatment provider or wood packaging manufacturer. Inclusion of this certification number ensures that the wood packaging material can be traced back to the treatment provider and/or manufacturer.

  • YY: is the treatment abbreviation where:
    • HT: is the code for heat treatment using conventional steam or dry kiln heat chamber to a minimum of 56º C for a minimum of 30 minutes
    • MB: is the code for methyl bromide fumigation
    • DH: is the code for heat treatment using dielectric heat 

Other information may also be included outside of the border of the mark provided that it is not confusing, deceptive or misleading. Examples of permitted additional information may include date of manufacture, batch number, company name or logo.

The certification mark can be in any colour however the use of red or orange should be avoided as these colours are used in the labelling of dangerous goods.

Does wood packaging material need to be debarked?

Irrespective of the type of treatment applied, all wood packaging material must be made of debarked wood. For the AWPCS, any number of visually separate and clearly distinct small pieces of bark may remain if they are:

  • less than 3 cm in width (regardless of the length) or
  • greater than 3 cm in width, with the total surface area of an individual piece of bark less than 50 square cm.

Note: For methyl bromide treatment, the removal of bark must be carried out before the treatment because the presence of bark on wood affects the efficacy of the methyl bromide treatment. For heat treatment, the removal of bark can be carried out before or after treatment.

How do I apply for certification under the AWPCS?

All applications for certification under the AWPCS shall be made to an accredited certification body. A list of certification bodies is available on the JAS-ANZ Register or on the Applying for certification under the AWPCS web page.

How much will it cost to obtain certification under the AWPCS?

The cost of obtaining and maintaining certification under the AWPCS is determined by the certification body. It is the applicant's responsibility to contact the certification body of their choice to confirm all arrangements, including the costs.

What is the length of certification under the AWPCS?

A company's certification under the AWPCS remains valid as long as ongoing compliance with the conditions of certification is demonstrated.

Can I get pieces of timber treated by a certified AWPCS treatment provider and then manufacture the packaging myself, or make changes to the packaging to suit the commodity being exported after treatment?

Under the AWPCS, repaired, altered, re-manufactured or recycled wood packaging material must be treated by a certified treatment provider and constructed by a certified wood packaging manufacturer.

Can I use the ISPM 15 certification mark for any purpose other than marking ISPM 15 compliant wood packaging material?

The ISPM 15 certification mark is only for use on wood packaging material. The mark can only be used by certified treatment providers and/or wood packaging manufacturers.

Can I re-export pallets that have been stamped with the ISPM 15 mark?

All wood packaging that bears an ISPM 15 compliant certification mark that originates from Australia or another country may be re-exported, provided no alterations are made to the wood packaging.

Where can I get a copy of the AWPCS and find additional information?

Where do I find information on Australia's import conditions for wood packaging?

Once the wood packaging material is heat treated, how long does the treatment last before I have to retreat?

Where wood packaging has been treated in accordance with the requirements of the AWPCS, the treatment is considered to be effective against the members of the regulated pest groups (listed in Appendix 1 of the AWPCS) for the entire life of the treated article.

Note: The ISPM 15 standard does not address the issue of re-infestation. If signs of infestation are detected on arrival in the importing then the infested wood packaging may be directed for treatment or destroyed. 

Do I need to provide a documentation to confirm the wood packaging is ISPM 15 compliant?

The internationally recognised certification mark that is applied to wood packaging verifies that it has been treated and is compliant with the ISPM 15 standard.

Note: Some countries do require documentation confirming that the wood packaging used in a consignment is ISPM 15 compliant. Documentation may include packing declarations, packing lists or invoices. Treatment certificates are not required and it is the responsibility of the exporter to provide this documentation.​