ISPM - 15 FAQs (Frequently  Asked Questions)

Wood packaging material made of unprocessed raw wood is recognized as a pathway for the introduction and spread of pests. To limit the entry and spread of quarantine pest through international trade, the International Plant Protection Convention adopted the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures Guidelines for Regulating Wood Packaging Material in International Trade (ISPM 15).

  • What is ISPM 15?

ISPM 15 is the 'International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures Publication No. 15: Guidelines for Regulating Wood Packaging Material in International Trade'.

          Why was ISPM 15 developed?

 ISPM 15 was developed to address the global spread of timber pests by regulating the movement of timber packing and dunnage in international trade. ISPM 15 describes phytosanitary measures to reduce the risk of introduction and/or spread of quarantine pests associated with solid timber packing material (includes dunnage).

  •  Who developed and endorsed ISPM 15? 
The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) addresses plant quarantine through the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). The IPPC is an international treaty administered by the FAO and implemented through the cooperation of member governments. India is a member or 'contracting party' to the treaty.

ISPMs are recognised as the basis for phytosanitary measures applied by members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) under the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.

  • What countries have implemented ISPM 15 for their exports?

Many countries, including India, have implemented systems to accept ISPM 15 compliant imports. India has implemented ISPM 15 for exports also. Countries are not obliged to advise trading partners of their ISPM 15 export readiness so it is difficult to determine the ISPM 15 implementation status of various countries. The National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) of the importing country is the authority to give you the correct information. For a brief list of countries, see our page on ISPM Countries.

  •  What is timber packing and dunnage?

     * Packing used to support, protect or carry a commodity.

    * Packing includes dunnage, pallets, crating, packing blocks, drums, cases, load boards, pallet collars and skids.

    * Packing can be constructed of any material including timber (or wood).

    * Dunnage is used to secure or support a commodity but does not remain associated with the commodity.

  •  Will fumigating wooden pallets and boxes get rid of Fungal infection?

      No. Methyl bromide is very effective against insect pests, but is not lethal to commonly found fungal species. If you wish so, Aqua & Arthropods Pest Control can perform anti-fungal treatment for your wooden packaging material.

 ·Why does the revised (2009) ISPM-15 require all timber packing (including dunnage) to be free of bark?

Bark has the potential to contain numerous pathogens of quarantine concern. It also acts as a shelter site for insect pests and encourages post treatment infestation by both insect and pathogen pests. The presence of bark also hampers inspection procedures and may reduce the effectiveness of methyl bromide fumigation. For these reasons, countries require imported timber packing to be free of bark. 

  • What does an ISPM 15 compliant stamp or mark look like? What do the symbols in the stamp mean?

Timber packing and dunnage bearing the mark below is certified as having been subjected to an ISPM 15 approved treatment.

 ISPM 15 mark

An ISPM 15 compliant mark must include:

    * The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) symbol

    * The ISO two letter country code 'XX' (e.g. IN for India, US for United States, CN for China, GB for United Kingdom) followed by a unique number '000' assigned by the National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) to the treatment provider of the timber packing. This component of the mark enables the treatment provider of the timber packing or dunnage to be identified.

    * 'YY' indicates the ISPM 15 approved treatment applied to the timber packing material or dunnage, where:

MB represents methyl bromide fumigation.

HT represents heat treatment.

  • Where should ISPM 15 marks be located on timber packing?
To aid in validation inspections ISPM 15 compliant marks should be clearly visible and they should appear on at least two opposite sides of the article being certified. The marks must be permanent and not transferable. Hence metal plates and stickers are not acceptable.
  • · Do the ISPM 15 approved measures of heat treatment and methyl bromide fumigation offer permanent protection to timber packing against timber and non-timber pests?

Neither of the ISPM 15 approved measures offers permanent protection against post-treatment infestation of timber packing by timber and non-timber pests. The treatments only control pests present at the time of treatment. Often, post-treatment infestation of solid timber packing is an important quarantine issue.

  •  Should repaired, re-manufactured and re-cycled wood packaging material be subject to re-treatment in addition to being re-certified and re-marked?

Yes: in order to establish chain of custody and maintain accountability, repaired, remanufactured and recycled WPM shall be subject to re-treatment. All previous ISPM15 markings shall be removed or obliterated and the product re-certified and re-marked by an authorised agency.