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Freight from the USA

Wood-packing restrictions and cargo fumigation

In our days, all countries worldwide are more or less restricted in exporting and importing goods packed with raw wood. These restrictions in international cargo transportation known as wood-packing restrictions or ISPM15 rules. These rules prevent the spread of diseases and the larvae of harmful insects.

When shipping cargo from the USA overseas, international cargo shippers should always keep in mind these restrictions. In general, you should know that shipping cargo packed with raw wood materials is prohibited in international cargo transportation regardless of the mode of transportation. In international shipping, you have to pack cargo using wood materials that comply with the ISPM rules: certified and stamped wood, plywood, plastic, etc.

If you ship from the USA boxes, crates, or pallets, you will need to pay attention to the certification of pallets you use and build crates using plywood or other kinds of heat-treated wood that comply with ISPM15.

If destination country officials find that an internationally shipping cargo contains raw wood packing materials, then the entire shipment may require fumigation, which is a complicated and costly process.

However, the wood-packing restrictions apply to pack materials but not to the shipping goods themselves.

ISPM stamp. Certified wood packing

Do not confuse the wood-packing restrictions in international cargo transportation with fumigation of cargo shipping to Oceania, known as BMSB (Brown Marmorated Stink Bug) regulations. Particularly when shipping goods from the USA to Australia and New Zealand.

Cargo shipping to Oceania has to be entirely fumigated. You may try to avoid paying for fumigation before your shipment departed from the USA by considering lists of high risks goods in the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) and New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) websites. However, we highly recommend our customers always fumigate any cargo shipping to Australia or New Zealand directly by the ocean freight carrier used in their international cargo transportation. You will pay a reasonable price in the USA, usually $30 per cubic meter, $100-$300 minimum, depending on the carrier. In this case, you ensured that you would not face problems and penalties at the destination. If destination officials find that arriving freight does not comply with BMSB, then the fumigation at the destination can be complex, and charges and penalties are enormous.


ISPM15 in international cargo transportation (Wood-packing) 

Wood packing restrictions in international cargo transportation, also known as ISPM 15 rules. It also applies to ship from the USA cargo that contains wooden packing materials.

ISPM 15 prevents the spreading of plant pests and diseases worldwide, with shipping international freight using packing materials and supply containing raw wood. The International Plant Protection Convention has originated these international shipping regulations with the United Nations (IPPC). ISPM 15 rules apply on shipping boxes, crates, and pallets that contain wood packaging material: wooden boxes, wooden pallets, wooden crates, dunnages, drums, wood cases, etc. In certain circumstances, other restrictions related to pests control in international cargo transportation, including shipping cargo from the USA, may apply to the cargo itself. The most restricted countries are Australia and New Zealand. As an example, you may refer to the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website.

ISPM15 requires that all international freight shipping from the USA using any species of raw wood packaging must be fumigated or heat treated. The treatment must be done before any boxes, crates, or pallets will be submitted to the shipping from the USA to kill insects or fungus. All wood packing materials used in international shipping from the USA must be stamped with approved IPPC stamps. All cargo shipping from the USA overseas will be checked in respect of compliance with the ISPM15 regulations before the release to depart from the U.S. as well as at a time of entry to a participating in IPPC country.

Below is a sample of IPPS stamps on wooden pallets used in shipping cargo from the USA. The same stamps are required for shipping from the USA boxes and crates that contain wood packing materials unless a fumigation certificate is attached. Sometimes officials at the origin and destination countries may request fumigation certificates even though freight packing is stamped.

U.S. ocean freight

Such a stamp proves that packaging has been heat-treated and complies with ISPM15 regulations. Failure to comply with ISPM15 rules may result in serious problems in shipping goods from the USA abroad. If wooden boxes, crates, or pallets shipping from the U.S. overseas are packed with natural wood without ISPM15 stamps, cargo can be refused for international transportation and turned back to be fumigated or repacked.

The United States of America has implemented ISPM 15 on all freight shipping to the USA since 2010. All cargo entered into the United States, which does not comply with ISPM15, will require immediate fumigation. Otherwise, it is prohibited to be entered into the U.S. and must be re-exported or destroyed.

Participating in IPPC, the United States prohibits shipping from the USA any cargo that contains not treated wood packing on the government level. All U.S. and not U.S. carriers involved in cargo transportation from the USA will check shipping boxes, crates, and pallets on ISPM15 compliance before to release for the transportation out of the U.S. Any problems, delays, and penalties on shipping from the USA cargo that does not comply with ISPM 15 are shippers' responsibility and on shippers' accounts. Any problems, delays, and fees and penalties related to ISPM 15 that occurred at destinations or during trans-shipping cargo from the USA are consignees' responsibilities and on consignees' account.


Avoid problems related to ISPM15.

Think ahead. Avoid problems related to ISPM 15 regulations in shipping goods from the USA overseas. Actually, the ISPM15 restrictions should not scare you. Most important is to understand that basically, the ISPM 15 rules regulate the way you pack your goods, but not the cargo itself. It prohibits using non-manufactured wood packing materials (called solid wood packaging materials or SWPM). Goods shipping from the USA is not a subject to ISPM15. ISPM15 does not apply to the commodity.

Non-manufactured wood packing materials in respect of shipping boxes, crates, and pallets from the USA are defined as "wood packing other than comprised wholly of wood-based products such as plywood, particleboard, oriented strand board, veneer, wood wool, etc., which has been manufactured using glue, heat, and pressure or a combination thereof."

The easiest way to avoid problems related to the ISPM15 regulations in international deliveries from the USA just does not to use non-manufactured wood packing materials. Ship goods from the USA overseas using certified pallets, pack your cargo in cardboard boxes, plywood, veneer, etc. If you can, do not use any wood in your packing at all. Use plastic shipping supplies.

When you pack your goods for international shipping from the USA, keep in mind the following:

  • Cargo shipping from the USA in cardboard shipping boxes complies with ISPM15 regulations. For extra protection, we'd recommend heavy-duty cardboard shipping boxes that are widely available online. Then you palletize your shipping boxes on certified or plastic pellets.

    Always keep in mind that when you deliver your loose cardboard boxes to an ocean freight carrier's freight terminal (CFS), then the CFS can properly palletize and shrink wrap your shipping boxes for international transportation from the USA for a fee of $35-50 per pallet, including the cost of the pallet. Use the opportunity. Do not palletize shipping boxes on your own. Deliver light shipping boxes to CFS and leave the palletizing to professionals. Besides, that loose shipping boxes are much easy to handle, most important that you will transfer responsibilities on ISPM15 compliance to the CFS. Then your cargo should not face any problems related to ISPM 15 during transportation from the USA overseas. 

    ship boxes from the U.S.

  • If you palletize your shipping items for transportation from the USA on wooden pallets, use the ONLY ISPM15 certified, stamped pallets. The same applies to ship crates from the U.S. Do not use not-certified raw wood packing materials in any cargo deliveries from the USA overseas.
    Pallets for international shipping from the U.S.
  • Wood packaging supply wholly made of wood-based products, such as plywood, particleboard, oriented strand board, or veneer that have been created using glue, heat, and pressure or a combination thereof should be considered sufficiently processed to have eliminated the risk associated with the raw wood. It is unlikely to be infested by raw wood pests during its international shipping. Therefore should not be regulated and restricted by the ISPM15 when shipping from the USA overseas. However, if a shipping crate is complex, then proof of compliance with ISPM15 may require anyway.

    an ISPM 15 complied crate for the ocean freight shipment

  • Using plastic packing materials in shipping goods from the USA that do not contain wood makes the shipping exempt from ISPM15 rules. If you are shipping goods from the U.S. stored on plastic pallets, in plastic cases, or crates, then you should not worry about ISPM15 at all. Such pallets, cases, and crates of different sizes and forms designed for international cargo transportation from the USA are widely available on the market.

Plastic pallet for international shipping of ocean freight                   Plastic crates for international shipping sea freight

The ISPM15 regulations in shipping goods from the USA overseas fall into two key areas:

  1. The shipping freight itself and,
  2. Providing proper shipping documentation related to ISPM15.

That means that besides the proper packing of internationally shipping cargo, you should pay attention to the ISPM15 related documentation. The documents have to be submitted to the ocean freight carrier before cargo is realized for shipping from the U.S. 

Different countries in the world have different levels of restrictions related to ISPM15. For example, if you are shipping cargo from the USA to Australia or New Zealand, your cargo and ISPM15 related documents will be checked especially strictly. Cargo trans-shipped via Hong Kong or Singapore most likely will be subject to ISPM15 documentation verification as well. Types and forms of such documents may vary from country to country.

  • If you self-pack goods for further international transportation from the USA overseas using wood packing materials, then we suggest you to ask about ISPM15 requirements (and other import regulations) specific to your destination country by contacting the consulate of the country in the USA or related officials (the customs or customs broker) in the country. Most of the time, a fumigation certificate should be sufficient. You may download and see the form of the Australian Wood-packing declaration on shipping boxes, crates, and pallets from the USA to Australia in this link.

  • If you hire a professional packing company to prepare your cargo for the shipping from the USA or use an international moving company, then parties that are taking care of packing your shipping from the U.S. goods should be aware of and comply with the ISPM15 regulations. Ask them in advance.


Cargo fumigation in shipping goods from the USA

Ocean freight carriers are implemented the following Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) fumigation requirements for shipping freight from the USA to Oceania:

The seasonal measures for Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) regulations are outlined in the respective websites of Australia's Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) and New Zealand's Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).
Shippers should be guided by their consignees and consignees' customs brokers regarding the applicability of the regulation to their shipments. Due to the nature of the requirements, the cost for non-compliance, and the expense for onshore treatment in Australia / New Zealand will be for the account of cargo and could be significant.
In short, the regulation requires that all shipments deemed as high risk by DAWR and MPI standards be treated before loading from high-risk origin countries of which the USA is named. With consolidated cargo, the rule states that if one shipment in the container is considered high risk, the entire container is considered high risk.
For this reason, ocean freight carriers will require that all shippers review the requirements to determine their shipment's risk and determine whether the cargo requires fumigation. Ocean freight carriers will require a signed declaration from the shipper to that effect before considering any shipment for loading.
Typically ocean freight carriers will be providing fumigation services for LCL at load ports and gateways, and the below measures will be in effect:

  • A completed BMSB form will be required for all shipments.
  • For LCL, shipments deemed as HIGH RISK by the DAWR or MPI will be typically subject to the fee of $30 w/m with a minimum of $100-$300 per shipment, depending on the carrier. 
  • Sulfuryl Fluoride will be the treatment used.
  • If your shipment is deemed to be sensitive to the fumigant and CANNOT be fumigated, ocean freight carriers may be offering non-fumigated services based on availability.
For FCL shipping from the USA, shippers must request in advance to obtain fumigation charges.
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