U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) has issued CSMS 17-000612 advising, effective November 1st, they will penalize any documented violation of the wood packaging material (WPM) requirements, eliminating its previous policy of allowing up to five (5) violations before taking such action. There will be no annual reset for calculating repeat violations and each WPM violation may incur a penalty.
Within the CSMS CBP states this policy change is designed to motivate compliance with requirements for non-exempt imported WPM (e.g., crates, boxes, and pieces of wood used to support or brace cargo); requirements that have been in effect since September 16, 2005.
Such WPM must be heat treated or fumigated with methyl bromide at approved facilities at places of origin to kill harmful timber pests that may be present. It must also display a visible, legible, and permanent mark certifying treatment, preferably on at least two sides of the article. The mark must be approved under the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) in its International Standards of Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM 15) regulation.
The above CBP guidance includes:
These guidelines include the penalty potential, normally based on the severity of the violation, as well as on the value of merchandise imported, duties, taxes, etc. involved. (Note: This CBP “penalty” web posting also includes reference to the above-noted “five  violations.” This concept no longer exists as of November 1st.)
The trade community is reminded the US-Canada exemption to ISPM-15 enforcement still exists:
That exemption pertains to WPM made entirely of Canadian origin wood, or entirely of U.S. origin wood, used in trade between the two countries. The exemption only pertains to WPM coming directly to the U.S. from Canada (as defined by USDA), or directly to Canada from the U.S. (as defined by Canada).
Note: Even with the above-noted exemption in place, the USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Plant Protection & Quarantine (PPQ) inspectors always reserve the right to inspect the WPM on inbound shipments. If pests or contaminants are found, the shipments can still be detained or refused.
Livingston will continue to monitor this process, posting updates to our website, as appropriate.
Your general questions about this regulatory update may be directed to Livingston’s US Regulatory Affairs group: email@example.com.