ISPM 15 Requirements Have Not Changed, But Enforcement Is Tightening
(Another informative article by Rick Leblanc - Packaging Revolution).
An announcement by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in late September 2017 resulted in a scramble as brokers and shippers sought to understand and communicate the changes to their customers and trading partners.
The main point is that the U.S. is stepping up enforcement of ISPM 15 regarding solid wood packaging entering the U.S. Previously, five violations in a calendar year were typically allowed before penalties were assessed, with an annual reset. Now penalties may be issued at the first violation.
ISPM 15 is an established program, implemented several years ago to help prevent the transfer of harmful timber pests internationally. Nonexempt wood packaging material (WPM) imported into the United States must have been treated at approved facilities and display a visible, legible, and permanent mark certifying treatment, preferably in at least 2 sides of the article. The mark must be approved under the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) in its International Standards of Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM 15) Regulation of wood packaging material in international trade (https://www.ippc.int/en/publications/640/).
The announcement (shown later in this article) did not acknowledge the exemption for Canada when lumber of Canadian origin is used in solid wood packaging and pallets, prompting concern that the Canadian exemption had been removed.
To clarify, ISPM 15 requirements for import into the U.S. have not changed. For exports from Canada, wood of Canadian origin does not require treatment or ISPM-15 stamp, although the Canadian origin should be noted on the customs declaration. For wood not originating in Canada, the ISPM 15 stamp is required. For other countries, as per present practice, compliance with ISPM 15 is required.
Watch Out for Common Mistakes
The reduced tolerance for violations is a signal for shippers to fully comply with ISPM 15. Brian Isard, the general manager of the Canadian Wood Pallet and Container Association, urges supply chain participants to “not take any shortcuts”. Common mistakes which lead to trouble for shipment to U.S. and other international destinations include stamps that are not clearly legible, the use of non-compliant, non-stamped blocking and bracing, or the use of dunnage stamped material for crating.
Brokers and others are advising shippers to purchase solid wood packaging and pallets from ISPM 15 certified providers in order to avoid problems at the port of entry. “People who are not using proper timber – watch out,” Isard cautioned.
The announcement marks a tightening of enforcement rather than a change of ISPM 15 requirements.
USDA clarifies the exemption for timber of Canadian origin in this recent update. https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/import-information...
Isard notes that further information relevant to Canada (Table 3-167, page 202) and other countries can be found in the APHIS Miscellaneous and Processed Products Import Manual.
UPDATED WOOD PACKAGING MATERIAL PENALTY GUIDANCE
Issuance of Penalties as a Consequence of Wood Packaging Material
Pursuant to U.S. Code of Federal Regulations 7 CFR § 319.40-3 (effective since September 16, 2005), non-exempt wood packaging material (WPM) imported into the United States must have been treated at approved facilities at places of origin to kill harmful timber pests that may be present. The WPM must display a visible, legible, and permanent mark certifying treatment, preferably in at least 2 sides of the article. The mark must be approved under the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) in its International Standards of Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM 15) Regulation of wood packaging material in international trade (https://www.ippc.int/en/publications/640/). Any WPM from foreign origin found to be lacking appropriate IPPC-compliant markings or found to be infested with a timber pest is considered not properly treated to kill timber pests and in violation of the regulation. The responsible party (importer, carrier, or bonded custodian) for the violative WPM must adhere to the Emergency Action Notification stipulations and be responsible for any costs or charges associated with disposition.
The purpose of the WPM requirement is to prevent the introduction of exotic timber pests. Introduced exotic pests lack the natural environmental controls that may be found in their respective native lands to keep them in check. When exotic timber pests go unchecked they can cause widespread tree mortality with detrimental ecological impacts. Additionally, there may be economic impact for the lumber, fruit, and nut industries, as well as the loss of horticultural trees. Eradication efforts can prove to be very expensive and ineffective once an exotic pest is introduced, as is the case with the Emerald Ash Borer which was introduced with infested WPM. Therefore, preventing introduction is critical with these exotic pests.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is responsible for enforcing the regulation at ports of entry. To motivate WPM compliance, effective November 1, 2017, responsible parties with a documented WPM violation may be issued a penalty under Title 19 United States Code (USC) § 1595a(b) or under 19 USC § 1592. This is a change from the previous published threshold of 5 violations. There will be no yearly reset for calculating repeat violations as each WPM violation may incur a penalty.
As trade industry members, you are encouraged to educate your supply chains about ISPM 15 requirements. Informational material on WPM is available from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.