Overseas Shipping: How to Prepare and Receive Wood Pallets


In today’s global economy, there’s a good chance your business will either be sending goods out of the country or receiving them from other countries. 

If your company sells products internationally, there are a few key things that you will need to know in advance, especially when it comes to using wood pallets for shipping and receiving goods. One thing you don’t want to deal with is getting your shipment stopped at the border. 

Ensuring that your freight meets international requirements is vital to make certain that there will not be any delays either going out to another country or coming into the US. Think about it: on each day, there are more than 1.8 billion wood pallets in use in the U.S. Additionally, there are billions more that move across the globe.

Why Have the Regulations? 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has set standards for wood packaging material (WPM) going in and out of the United States.

Why the concern? For starters, untreated wood can bring unwanted pests into (and out of) the country. It’s fairly well documented that untreated wood brought Asian long-horned beetles and the emerald ash borer to the United States. To date, the USDA estimates that the destruction brought about by those imported pests is close to $1 billion. The effort to eliminate pests both at home and abroad is an international cooperative effort.

You Can’t Beat the Heat

To reduce the spread of pests that may be in the wood of the pallet, a set of regulations exists called ISPM 15 (International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15). This requirement specifies that any wood pallet is treated—usually with heat—to ensure there are no pests left in the wood that might be transported to a different country.

The wood is heated to a temperature of about 140 F for about half an hour. That heating ensures that all larvae and insects are killed off so you can use the wood for international shipping.

If you are using wood pallets to send internationally or receive from another country, you will need to look for an “HT” or “ heat-treated” stamp on both sides of the wood.  This shows the wood was heat-treated and did not come in contact with any harmful chemicals.

If your company needs pallets heat-treated for shipping overseas, Hope Timber Pallet can take care of it. We are certified with ISPM 15 (International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures). All heat-treated pallets are stamped with a compliance mark. Heat treatment and mold prevention services are available for additional charges.

Some Additional Thoughts About International Shipping

Aside from ensuring that you are not transporting invasive pests across international borders, there are some other best practices to be aware of for international shipping. 

  • In general, your loaded pallet should be no more than 60” high for international shipping.
  • Most experts recommend shrink-wrapping your loaded pallet to reduce both damage and theft at all parts of the shipping process. In addition, having appropriate labels is vital.  
  • Not only the shipper and consignee labels must be visible, but also any other important information such as “Do not double stack” or “sensitive items” should be affixed to in a way that assures your shipment will arrive safely.
  • Finally, be careful about ensuring your shipment doesn’t have exposure to moisture, which can damage or ruin entire shipments.  

In the end, the wood pallet is the base of your international shipping, so it’s best to make sure you have a good source for high-quality wood pallets like those we make at Hope Timber Pallets. Let us know if you have a need for pallets for international shipping, as we are always ready to help.  And that will be one less worry for you as you send or receive your merchandise from an international destination.

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