No Date Yet for New U.S./Canada Wood Pallet Rules


Our customers who ship to Canada have asked us when the agreement allowing non-heat-treated pallets for shipments between the U.S. and Canada will end. The short answer is we don’t know yet.

Here’s the story. For many years, the U.S. and Canada have allowed companies to make shipments between their countries using wooden pallets that weren’t heat treated. That applied as long as the wood used for the pallets came from the U.S. or Canada. (The agreement applied only to shipments from the continental U.S., however.)

It’s been a unique arrangement; wood pallets from all other countries shipped to the U.S. or Canada have to be heat-treated and stamped as outlined in the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures—ISPM 15.

In 2012, however, the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) and the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Canadian equivalent of the FDA) announced that the two countries have decided to phase out this exemption. Wood pallets traveling between the U.S. and Canada, moving in either direction, would, at a future point, have to meet the ISPM 15 standards for heat treatment and for markings.

The phase-in of changes in ISPM standards usually takes a year or two, so most people in the industry expected the new requirements to go into effect sometime in 2014. But it didn’t happen. Now we’re already halfway through 2015, and there’s been no further information on the issue, so it’s unlikely anything will happen this year. So the ISPM-15 requirements could happen sometime in 2016 or in 2017 or even later, depending on how fast the bureaucracy in both countries moves.

The official word from the CFIA, on a webpage dated more than a year ago, is that the two countries are “collaborating on the development of a strategy that would involve a phase-in period for the eventual full implementation of the ISPM 15 standard for wood packaging material that moves between both countries.”

While we can’t give you a more definitive answer about the change in U.S./Canada ISPM 15 standards at this point, what we can say positively is that we will be prepared to help our customers comply when the change does occur. All PalletOne locations are audited and certified annually by third-party inspectors to provide HT pallets for export in accordance with the most current ISPM 15 requirements.

The PalletOne Team is knowledgeable about ISPM 15 rules and regulations, and we keep up to date with the latest changes in wood packaging export requirements. We will let you let you know as soon as we hear anything official about the Canada/US. changeover–or about any other modifications in the requirements for wood pallets used in the export business.

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