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The Fumigation Certificate, in respect of international shipping of sea freight, also referred to as a 'pest control certificate' is the proof that wooden packing materials used in international sea freight shipping e.g. wooden pallets and crates, wood, wool etc have been fumigated or sterilized prior the international shipment. Fumigation certificates in international shipping usually contain details such as purpose of treatment, the articles in question, temperature range used, chemicals and concentration used, etc.

ISPM15 in international shipping

The fumigation certificate as an international sea freight shipping document is not a mandatory international shipping export document. However, it assists in quarantine clearance of an international seafreight shipment upon the arrival to the destination.

The fumigation for international shipping using a sea freight services should be completed by a certified vender prior the international shipment will be submitted to an international seafreight carriers shipping facility in the country of origin of the international shipment. If not completed and fully documented at origin, then the fumigation may be done at the destination upon arrival of international seafreight shipment to the country of destination; OR for international shipments with transshipments at a time of transshipment, i.e. at a time when cargo will be reloaded form one container/vessel to another in order to be shipped to the final destination.

If a fumigation certificate in international seafreight shipping is required but not presented or incomplete, then additional costs related to fumigation of the international seafreight shipment may occur upon arrival of the international shipment to the destination. Noncompliance will result in wooden packing materials and wooden pallets being destroyed by the destination country port authorities at consignee's cost and may result in delayed customs clearance. Shippers/Consignees will bear the cost of the fumigation and/or delayed customs clearance due to this noncompliance on the international shipping procedures related to international shipping of seafreight containing wooden packing materials.

Note: Obtaining of fumigation certificate for international cargo shipping is shipper's responsibility. A Fumigation Certificate, in respect of international shipping of sea freight (if required), can be obtained by international shipper from a local fumigation company. If you consider that a fumigation certificate is required for your international seafreight shipment, then search the internet or refer to your local Yellow Pages in order to find a nearest fumigation company in your area that specialized in fumigation of cargo for the international shipping.


At a glance the ISPM15 international shipping rules may appear quite complicated. I order to make it simpler we would suggest to international shippers using common sense to understand these rules:

Usually, in international shipping of seafreight, importing countries make fumigation compulsory for wood-packing materials that contain solid wood / timber and logs. But importing countries do not require fumigation for cardboard boxes, plywood, blockboard, MDF/HDF (wood-based products obtained by pressing wood fibres), OSB (a competitor for plywood), hardboard, particle board and some other man-made boards. Why?

Because solid timber and logs that are shipping internationally, probably have harmful living insects. It is necessary to fumigate solid timer and logs before international shipping overseas. Otherwise, those harmful insects probably will cause great damage to the forests in importing countries.

The goal of fumigation is to protect forests of destination countries from insects that may reside inside of internationally shipping timber. The fumigation is a pesticide treatment using poisonous gases to kill pests inside of international shipping wood.

But there will not be living insects in some internationally shipping "man-made" wood-packing materials such as cardboard boxes, plywood, blockboard (wood-based products obtained by gluing blocks of wood together and sandwiching them between 2 veneers), MDF/HDF (wood-based products obtained by pressing wood fibres), OSB (a competitor for plywood), hardboard (high-density fiberboard), particle board and so on. These "man-made" wood-packing materials are produced under high temperature and high pressure. During production, all the insects in these "man-made" wood-packing materials will be killed because of high temperature and high pressure.

Because of no insects, then these "man-made" wood-packing materials will not require to be fumigated during the international shipping. I.e. no fumigation certificate is required for your seafreight international shipment that contain these "man-made" wood-packing materials listed above.

Currently, in the international shipping industry, using alternative packing materials such plastic packing materials (plastic pallets, crates etc) become more and more popular due to its full compliance with the ISM 15 rules.


Timber boring insects pose a significant quarantine risk on internationals shipping to Australia and New Zealand and therefore all timber used in FCL containers must be treated before the container can be considered for immediate release. This relates also to the exposed timber components of the container itself.

Quarantine's concern does not only relate to timber pests but also to the cleanliness of internationally shipping seafreight containers.

All conditions prescribed for international shipping by the Quarantine and Customs Authorities must be met before any internationally shipping cargo can be removed from a terminal or break bulk depot.


The following steps should be taken to ensure prompt delivery of internationally shipping goods in Australia and New Zealand without detention by the Quarantine Authorities:

  • All international shipping ocean freight bills have a code which indicates if wood is used in packing or securing of internationally shipping cargo in a container. If wood is used in international shipping containers to Australia, then all documentation must have a packing declaration with a fumigation certificate of the internationally shipping container or a treatment certificate of the wood used.
  • For FCL containers if the internationally shipping goods themselves are not subject to quarantine inspection and the timber components, such as the floor and linings have been treated by an acceptable method, then the internationally shipping container is free to move anywhere provided packaging meets quarantine requirements and the internationally shipping container is clean.
  • As far as practical, timber should be avoided in international shipping to Australia and New Zealand and alternative material such as cardboard, plastic, new jute or metals used. If timber crates, cases, pallets or dunnage are used in an international shipment, then the timber should have been treated by one of the methods approved by Australia/New Zealand Plant Quarantine.
  • It is essential that the internationally shipping container is clean and free from soil or plant and animal contaminants such as grains, flour, meat, bones, hides and skin.
  • Straw packing, rice hulls and similar plant materials are prohibited for international shipping and therefore should not be used as packing for any international shipments. Alternative material such as shredded paper, wood-wool or synthetic materials are acceptable for international shipping provided they are not contaminated with material which could be a quarantine risk.

Whenever possible in international shipping of FCL containers to Australia and New Zealand are cleared through quarantine on documentation but a number of them are inspected at importer's premises to verify this international shipping documentation. Where infringements of quarantine requirements are found all subsequent consignments from that exporter may be directed to a depot for clearance. Apart from the delay all the possible prejudice to subsequent international shipments all cost for remedial action will be charged to the consignee.

You may download and see a form of Australian Wood-packing declaration for international shipping of seafreight to Australia in this link


LCL containers shipping internationally and carrying goods for delivery to approved break-bulk depots, where normal quarantine inspections of internationally shipping cargo can be undertaken, do not necessarily have to beat any special requirements. However, should evidence of infestation be found in any international shipping wooden crates or cases then fumigation will be undertaken. The cost to the exporter in the shape of treatment charges, delay and inconvenience in such international shipping may well outweigh the small additional costs of using treated timber when making up the internationally shipping crates and cases.

Other Restrictions in international shipping of LCL seafreight containing wood-packing materials

For your guidance we would also draw your attention to the additional following restrictions on international shipping of LCL seafreight to Australia and New Zealand.

(a) Fumigation of internationally shipping household furniture and personal affects will not permit immediate release of containers. Containers carrying these goods must pass through an approved depot for unpacking and treatment of internationally shipping goods subject to quarantine.

(b) Internationally shipping containers must be free from soil, plant material and contamination from animal products. Thorough cleaning of the inside and outside of internationally shipping containers prior to the international shipment will assist in removing contamination and could alleviate the need for expensive and time consuming quarantine treatment of international shipments in Australia and New Zealand. All contaminated internationally shipping containers detected entering Australia and New Zealand are treated before release.

(c) Any international shipping material of a plant origin or likely to carry any disease or pests of plants is subject to quarantine. Some internationally shipping items are prohibited except by special permit. Internationally shipping FCL seafreight containers of agricultural products emanating from the UK and NW Continent (non Khapra beetle area) must be preceded by a packers certificate of the internationally shipping container cleanliness prior to packing, a fumigation certificate for the empty internationally shipping container (not required if container is not lined), and a phytosanitary certificate.

(d) Items such as internationally shipping motor vehicles or internationally shipping agricultural machinery contaminated with soil must be cleaned before they are released. Steam-cleaning prior to international shipment will obviously go a long way to ensuring the internationally shipping cargo will be in an acceptable condition on arrival but this can never be guaranteed.

(e) Phostoxin is the proprietary name for aluminium phosphide. It is applied in solid form, usually as tablets and relies on a reaction with moisture in the air to release phosphine gas. Use is on a limited basis and normally where an internationally shipping commodity is known to have an adverse reaction with methyl bromide. Please note it can only be used as an internationally shipping commodity fumigant and is not an accepted method of timber treatment in international shipments to Australia or New Zealand.


To ensure that no expensive delays happen to your international shipping cargo on arrival and to ensure that it is immediately released for onward movement into the country, we recommend that you take the following precautions during the international shipping to Australia and New Zealand:

(1) If using your own or leased internationally shipping container ensure that its exposed timber components have been permanently treated to the international shipping requirements of the Quarantine Authorities and the containers registered with them. Otherwise the internationally shipping containers must be fumigated within 21 days prior to the international shipment.

(2) Where possible do not use in your international shipment wood for pallets, packaging, dunnaging or securing materials if you can find suitable alternative arrangements not subject to quarantine regulations, for example:

Internationally shipping paper products, hardboard, plastic products, fibreboard, cardboards, metal, clean dry used motor tyres, inflatable dunnage, wood-wool, and metal or plastic strapping.
Chipboards, plywood and particle board are also suitable provided they are new and manufactured in Canada, Europe, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, UK or USA.

Limited internationally shipping timber products are not acceptable, neither are internationally shipping material such as straw, rice hulls, or similar plant materials.

(3) Where wood is used for internationally shipping pallets, packaging, dunnaging or securing material then it must meet quarantine requirements in one of two ways:

(i) Be permanently treated by an approved for international shipping preservative such as copper-chromium-arsenic salts or copper-chromium-boron salts.
(ii) Be temporarily disinfected by one of the approved for international shipping methods below. Timber treated by one of these methods must be packed in a container used in international shipping or shipped within 21 days of treatment.
(a) Methyl Bromide fumigation
(b) Sulphuryl Fluoride (Vikane)
(c) Heat or kiln sterilisation
(d) Steaming
(e) Immersion in a hot liquid

Further information related to international shipping to Australia or New Zealand may be obtained by consulting the following publications available from your local ACA Containers Office:

(a) Internationally shipping Cargo Containers – Quarantine Aspects and Procedures. Australian Quarantine Service.

(b) Summary of Australian Plant and Animal Quarantine Requirements in international shipping. Australian Quarantine Service.

(c) Requirements for internationally shipping seafreight Containers and Containerised Cargo. Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. New Zealand Forest Service.


Methyl bromide fumigation is the most practical and economical method of timber treatment in international shipping. Loaded international shipping containers may be fumigated to treat the exposed timber components of the internationally shipping containers, timber packaging or the cargo. ACA International can arrange for your internationally shipping container to be fumigated prior to international shipping if you require this service or on arrival of your internationally shipping cargo if your quarantine documents are not in order.

A fumigation certificate for international shipping to Australia or New Zealand must be completed and signed by the fumigation contractor, who must be able to comply with ACOP (Approved Code of Practice) for the control of substances hazardous to health.

The quarantine declaration section of the Export Cargo International Shipping Instructions must be completed by the international shipper for coding on the manifest (IEF).

Certificates and/or Declaration for internationally shipping timber treatment will be forwarded by international Shipper to Consignee with invoices or international shipping documents.
Where fumigation has been carried out by ACA International or their agent on behalf of the international shipper fumigation certificates will be forwarded centrally. 


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