Most shippers export some, if not all, of their products on pallets. There are international regulations that govern the shipment of wood packaging materials (WPM) which are implemented to reduce the transfer of unwanted pests between countries. The regulation that governs WPM is ISPM 15, International Regulation of Wood Packaging Material in International Trade.
If your pallets do not comply with ISPM 15 or are not exempt from ISPM regulations this could be a logistical nightmare that could cost you serious time and money.
Plywood and OSB panel pallets are exempt from ISPM and do not need additional treatments. They do not need the ISPM stamps. However not having the stamps can lead to delays when the import inspector does not understand the material is exempt from ISPM.
Even with proper treatment of wood pallets, or exempt plywood pallets, you are still at the mercy of the import country inspectors. Stories abound of paperwork issues, missing HT stamps, illegible HT stamps, etc. For that reason, some companies use plastic, corrugated, or steel pallets that are clearly free of pests and exempt from ISPM 15 regulations.
If a unit load is non ISPM compliant, it is usually detained in the receiving country. This means the cost and time needed to resolve the issue is at the mercy of the local inspector. Clearly, it is in your best interest to do your homework up front to prevent inspection issues.
- Make sure you are working with a reputable pallet supplier that can provide ISPM certified heat-treated pallets.
- Make sure these pallets are clearly and properly stamped on both sides of the pallets with the ISPM mark (see photo).
- Check with your pallet supplier if there are any additional regulations or paperwork required for your country of import.
- Make sure your internal company does not modify the pallets (extra boards, crating, etc.) onsite. This invalidates the pallet stamps and will likely lead to issues at the country of import.
- Plastic is usually the alternative material of choice if you want a non-wood pallet. The cost of plastic pallets is low enough that in some cases, they are similar to wood.
Have you ever had an ISPM nightmare? We want to hear your story. Comment below to let us know what happened and how your problem was resolved.
Post by: John Clarke, Technical Director