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Wood Packaging Material and ISPM 15 Requirements


As a signatory country to the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), Canada administers the provisions of International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15: Regulation of Wood Packaging Material in International Trade (ISPM 15). This regulation requires that all non-manufactured wood packaging material used in international trade be treated in accordance with the standard. When this standard was adopted in 2006, Canada and the United States (U.S.) agreed not to apply requirements to non-manufactured wood packaging material originating from and moving between the two countries. Subsequently, all non-manufactured wood packaging material arriving in Canada from countries other than the U.S. must either be stamped with the official IPPC mark, or be accompanied by a valid phytosanitary certificate.

What is Non-Manufactured Wood Packaging Material?

Non-manufactured wood packaging material is defined as wood packaging made from raw wood that is not wholly comprised of wood-based products such as plywood, particle board, oriented strand board, veneer, wood wool, and similar materials, which have been created using glue, heat and pressure or a combination thereof. Only non-manufactured wood packaging material is regulated under ISPM 15 — manufactured wood packaging is not subject to these requirements. In all instances, regardless of whether the material is non-manufactured or manufactured, wood packaging material must be free from living pests and signs of living pests.

Federal Agencies’ Roles and Responsibilities

While the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) remains responsible for the policy aspects of ISPM 15, the inspection of wood packaging material and the commercial enforcement of ISPM 15 at the border are among the designated responsibilities that were transferred to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in 2005. The CBSA concentrates its efforts on inspecting and enforcing ISPM 15 compliance at Canada’s major commercial marine ports of entry.

Who Must Comply with ISPM 15 Requirements?

In Canada, all non-manufactured wood packaging material used in international trade must be compliant with ISPM 15. The importation or in-transit movement of untreated, non‑manufactured wood packaging material into or through Canada originating from any area of the world, except the continental U.S., is prohibited.

Why is this Important?

The CBSA takes its responsibility for enforcing ISPM 15 seriously, and works closely with the CFIA to prevent the introduction of invasive pests to Canada’s forests. The movement of invasive alien species through increased global trade is one of the fundamental causes of pest introductions into Canada, and non-compliant wood packaging material is considered a high-risk pathway for these species to enter Canada.

The introduction of the Asian long-horned beetle, emerald ash borer and other regulated pests now established in parts of North America are thought to be linked to international shipments that contained non-compliant wood packaging material. Invasive pests can result in economic losses — stemming from eradication and control costs in the millions of dollars, loss of export markets, and loss of Canadian industry and tourism jobs and dollars — as well as irreversible damage or loss of forests and forest ecosystems. Therefore, when the CBSA intercepts non‑compliant wood packaging material, it takes immediate action to mitigate the risk.

What Happens to Non-compliant Shipments?

When non-compliant wood packaging material is detected, both the shipment and the wood packaging material will be ordered removed from Canada. In cases where compliant wood packaging material is mixed with non-compliant wood packaging material, the entire shipment will be deemed non-compliant and refused entry into Canada.

The wood packaging material must be compliant at the time it leaves the country of origin. Therefore, deconsolidation and repacking within Canada are not permitted. In addition, treatment within Canada is not permitted unless there is evidence of living pests, in which case the wood packaging material will be treated prior to being ordered removed to mitigate the risk of pest escape. However, this treatment does not render the shipment compliant, and the shipment will still be ordered removed from Canada. All costs associated with the removal (including treatment, if required) of non-compliant wood packaging material are at the expense of the importer or person in care and control of the shipment at the time of entry into Canada.

The CBSA recognizes that refusals due to non-compliant wood packaging material are costly scenarios for importers, and is committed to working with importers to increase awareness of import requirements for wood packaging material — as well as other food, plant, animal and related product import regulations.