Introduction to ISPM 15

A number of countries around the world require wooden packaging materials to be treated to a standard known as ISPM 15 (International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures 15). This is a regulation which aims to stop the spread of pests and diseases which may inadvertently be transported in unprocessed raw wood used to make various types of packing material.

This regulation is controlled by International Plant Prevention Convention (IPPC) and it applies mainly to the use of untreated coniferous softwood and non-coniferous hard wood, but not to the use of plywood, veneer, constituted wood products or products where glue, heat and pressure or a combination have been applied.

ISPM 15 requires wood packaging material (WPM) to be heated treated to 56 degrees centigrade for 30 minutes at the core of the product or treated with Methyl Bromide as a fumigant. In some circumstances, only a Methyl Bromide treatment is effective, for example, against pests such as the Kappa and Bark beetle.

Treated wood has the IPPC mark which consists of a rectangle with the IPCC “wheat sheaf” logo on the left and an XX-0000 YY code on the right. XX refers to the country code, 0000 is a unique identification mark of the wood treatment agent or packaging manufacturer and YY the type of treatment used (HT for Heat Treatment and MB for Methyl Bromide).

As of October 2010 the ISPM15 regulation is implemented in Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, European Community, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, Russia, Seychelles, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, USA and North America.

Even though these countries have all implemented ISPM15, some countries require additional and stricter controls. For example, the Australian Quarantine requirements prohibits the entry of wood products infected with non indigenous bluestain. Since ISPM 15 treatments are not lethal to bluestain fungi, and the heat treatment in the absence of moisture reduction could actually increase susceptibility to this infection, it is recommended that for shipments to Australia other treatments for the wood in addition to ISPM 15 should be used. The additional requirement is for the wood to be kiln-dried to below 20% moisture content, which is indicated by the mark ‘KD’ or ‘kiln-dried’ on the wood packaging unit. However, since timber, even if kiln dried, has a tendency to absorb condensation during long container voyages, kiln drying does not guarantee that bluestain infection will not develop.

It is always a good idea to check whether the country being exported to has special requirements for packing at the time of the contract negotiations, since the cost of complying with the regulations can be costly if the shipment is large.

Maria Narancic from Point to Point Export Services is an independent international trade adviser who assists organisations world wide with their international trade projects, documentation, Documentary Credits and import/export training.  She is based in the United Kingdom.  If you require any further assistance with the matters mentioned above, please do contact us by e-mail on or check out other international trade articles on the Point to Point Export Services website at

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