This notice is being issued in response to requests made by members of the local trade community at the Trade Meeting held at the Port of Champlain on October 15, 2009.


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) revised its import regulation for wood packaging materials (WPM), 7 CFR § 319. The final rule was posted in the Federal Register September 16, 2004, with an effective date of September 16, 2005. A copy the Federal Register posting is attached for your information and use.

The regulation requires non-exempt WPM used in international trade to be treated to kill harmful insects that may be present. WPM must be marked with the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) logo, the two-letter International Organization for Standardization (ISO) code for the country that treated the WPM, the treatment facility number assigned by the national plant protection organization, and either HT for heat treatment or MB for methyl bromide. USDA must approve any abbreviations other than HT for heat treatment and MB for methyl bromide. A listing of approved exceptions will be maintained in Appendix A.

The rule requires regulated WPM to be marked in a visible location on each article, preferably on at least two opposite sides of the article, with a legible and permanent mark that indicates that the article meets the requirements of the regulation. Paper treatment certificates will no longer be required or accepted.

The regulation restricts the importation of many types of wood articles, including wooden packaging materials such as pallets, crates, boxes, and pieces of wood used to support or brace cargo. The regulations formerly referred to these types of wood packaging materials as solid wood packing materials, defined as ‘‘wood packing material other than loose wood packing material, used or for use with cargo to prevent damage, including, but not limited to, dunnage, crating, pallets, packing blocks, drums, cases, and skids.’’ Effective September 16, 2005, the U.S. regulation allows for violative regulated WPM to be exported; there are no treatment options available for importers of violative WPM into the United States.

For the purposes of this rule, WPM that are imported as cargo, such as a container or truckload of new or unused pallets, are to be considered WPM and subject to the rule. Its status as merchandise is irrelevant.

Non-regulated and Exempt Wood and Wood Products:

Regulated WPM do not include any manufactured items, such as worked wood items, even if those items are used to contain other non-regulated merchandise. Examples of non-regulated manufactured items might include such things as carved or formed wooden bottle stoppers, wooden boxes built to house fuel gauges or armaments, and ammo crates. Wine crates for any vintage year prior to 2006 are also non-regulated; wine crates for vintage year 2006 and beyond are regulated. Exemptions and exceptions are found in Appendix B.

Regulated WPM do not include any manufactured wood, such as fiberboard, plywood, polywood, strandboard, whisky and wine barrels, and veneers, nor do they include “loose wood packing materials” as defined in 7 CFR § 319.40-1. Examples of loose wood packing materials include excelsior (wood wool), sawdust, and wood shavings produced as a result of sawing or shaving wood into small, slender, and curved pieces. Dunnage is not always “loose wood packing materials”; when it is not, it is regulated.

The regulation allows several exemptions and exceptions. WPM made from Canadian origin wood are excepted from the marking requirements; for purposes of enforcement of this exception and absent any proof to the contrary or a statement from the importer, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will consider the country of origin of merchandise coming from Canada to be the country of origin of the accompanying WPM.

An exemption allows importation without marking of otherwise-regulated WPM used by the U.S. Department of Defense to package non-regulated articles, including commercial shipments pursuant to a DOD contract.

Also permitted is the importation of unmarked firewood, mesquite wood for cooking, and small, noncommercial packages of un-manufactured wood for personal cooking or personal medicinal purposes as long as these items arrive directly from Mexican Border States and are entered as such.

CBP will enforce the WPM regulation on goods moving under T&E or IT bond. In instances where officers of a contiguous country detect that WPM moving on a T&E are violative, the shipments will be allowed to transit out of the U.S. for exportation to a country other than Canada or Mexico.

Phased Compliance:

CBP conducted a special operation during the month of July 2005 to determine the baseline level of WPM compliance. Based on examination results, CBP is performing phased-in compliance enforcement of the USDA WPM regulation.

Phase I began on September 16, 2005, and served as an informed compliance period, with no stoppage or exportation of shipments for violative WPM. During this phase, all visual exams of cargo performed by CBP Officers or Agriculture Specialists included a WPM component. If WPM were found to be violative, the broker and importer were informed of the non-compliance and given further information.

Phase I was successfully completed on January 31, 2006.

Phase II began February 1, 2006. CBP began full enforcement of the ban on violative crates and pallets. CBP continued informed compliance measures on all regulated WPM except crates and pallets. Immediate export of all shipments found to contain violative crates and pallets was ordered if the Port Director determined that it was not feasible to separate merchandise from violative WPM.

Phase II ended successfully on July 4, 2006.

Phase III began July 5, 2006. This phase represents full enforcement of the WPM ban regulated by 7 CFR § 319. CBP will no longer conduct informed compliance at the shipment level. Immediate export of all shipments containing violative WPM will be ordered if the Port Director determines that it is not feasible to separate merchandise from violative WPM.

Requests to separate merchandise from violative WPM must be made in accordance with the process outlined in Appendix C of this document.

All expenses incurred for the services of CBP Officers and Agriculture Specialists involved in the separation of cargo will be billed to the importer or other party of interest. Arrangements for the reimbursement of expenses must be made prior to any manipulation. WPM and associated merchandise will be exported at the expense of the importer or party of interest.

Additional detail and frequently asked questions (FAQ) can be found on the WPM pages at:

The FAQ are updated as necessary to provide WPM processing guidance for the trade. Questions regarding this information notice should be directed to Supervisory CBP Agriculture Specialist Edmund Ryan at (518) 298-7216.