Why is Plant Health Certification for Exports Necessary?
Pests and diseases can be carried on plants, seeds, wood and wood products. If you intend to export such material you must comply with the importing country's plant health regulations. The controls may require physical action by the exporter and official inspection and paperwork.   Controlled products usually must be accompanied by a Plant Health (Phytosanitary - pronounced 'Fyto- Sanitary') Certificate issued by one of the Plant Protection authorities of this country declaring the goods to be free of harmful organisms.

In Great Britain the export service of the plant health inspections and the issue of certificates is undertaken by:

a. the Forestry Commission - for forest tree seeds, wood and wood products; and

b. the Agricultural Departments (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - DEFRA and the Scottish Executive for Environment, Rural Affairs and Development - SEERAD) for plants, soil and used forestry machinery.

View a guide to exporters on applying for phytosanitary certification services for wood and wood products destined for non-EU countries.

Exporters should note that in accordance with ISPM7 'Export Certification System' –

'The phytosanitary certificate should contain sufficient information to clearly identify the consignment to which it relates.  the phytosanitary certificate should not carry other information, of a non-phytosanitary nature'.

This guidance makes it clear that phytosanitary certificates are issued for plants and plant products that are subject to phytosanitary control measures and are not issued for commercial reasons.  Exporters should not therefore apply for phytosanitary certificates purely for commercial purposes eg their customer in China considers that a phytosanitary certificate is required regardless of China Notice 2005/11 and the ISPM15 marking requirements.

Exporters are reminded, however, that phytosanitary certificates can be required for the importation of wood and wood products depending on a particular country's landing requirements and therefore it is always prudent to check with the importing countyr's National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) to see whether you need a phytosanitary certificate.  Details of most NPPO's can be found at

Some countries also require an import licence or permit, which their NPPO will usually issue.  Again it is your responsibility to ensure that you have one where this is required.  You will need to produce the import permit to us in order that we can include details, where required, on the phytosanitary certificate.

Australia adopts ISPM15 bark tolerance for imports of wood packaging material wef 1 July 2010.

Following the adoption of the revised version of the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures Publication No. 15: Regulation of Wood Packaging Material in International Trade (ISPM 15) in April 2009, Biosecurity Services Group (BSG) undertook to review Australia’s requirement for bark freedom on solid wood packaging material. From 1 July 2010 Australia will accept solid wood packaging material that is treated and marked as ISPM 15 compliant and meets the bark tolerance requirements defined in the revised ISPM 15 standard. This requires that solid wood packaging material be debarked, but allows a tolerance for small pieces of bark that have not been completely removed during milling.

This tolerance for bark will also apply to solid wood packaging treated with other AQIS approved treatments. The ‘bark free’ declaration is still required but the ISPM 15 tolerance limits apply. Any wood packaging and dunnage exceeding the ISPM 15 bark tolerance limit will be subject to treatment, export or destruction at the importer’s expense.

Further details can be viewed on the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service's website and AQIS's Notice to Industry No. 18-2010 'Adoption of bark tolerance for imports defined in the wood packaging standard ISPM 15'

Lacey Act
Here is the latest update issued by the USDA on 3 February about implementation of new requirements concerning declarations by importers of certain commodities.  It should be noted that the onus is on the importer in the USA to make the declaration, although to do so and to avoid delays in customs clearance at the US border, exporters are advised to make sure that the information that the importer needs is made readily available. For further information about the phase in dates for different commodities (updated 25 February 2009)

Wood packaging material and cardboard boxes not being used to carry plant or plant products will be exempt from the new requirements.  For further information  (updated 13 October 2008)




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