Timber and bamboo packaging

​​​​​Timber and bamboo packaging and dunnage (loose packaging) used to support, protect or carry products for international trade are subject to import conditions. The import conditions can be found on BICON under “timber and bamboo packaging” (for packaging imported as a commodity) or “non-commodity” (for packaging used to support other commodities).

Types of packaging and dunnage

Timber and bamboo packaging includes cases, crates, pallets, bearers, beams, skids, load boards, drums and blocks made from solid timber, plywood or reconstituted wood, bamboo, bamboo laminate or a combination of these materials. Import conditions vary depending on the type of packaging.

For the purpose of biosecurity, timber and bamboo packaging are grouped into three different types:

  • permitted packaging material
  • packaging and dunnage containing solid timber
  • packaging containing bamboo

The biosecurity risks are different for each of these types of packaging however all may harbour significant pests.

Read more about exotic pests that may arrive in imported timber and timber products.

1. Permitted packaging material

Photo of bamboo pallet
Image of plywood veneer sheeting

Permitted packaging materials are made solely of sufficiently processed timber or bamboo and have a very low biosecurity risk. Types of permitted packaging include:

  • reconstituted wood, plywood and veneer that have been sufficiently processed; and
  • bamboo laminate and veneer that have been sufficiently processed (e.g. bamboo oriented strand board).

Manufacturing activities that constitute sufficient processing include:

  • shredding or stripping of the bamboo/timber
  • boiling or steaming
  • peeling/veneering
  • kiln drying followed by a moulding/pressing process to produce laminates or veneer articles.

Provided they are clean and free from solid wood, unprocessed bamboo and biosecurity risk material such as bark and soil, permitted packaging materials do not require treatment and do not need to be declared as 'prohibited packaging' on packing declarations.  

2. Packaging and dunnage containing solid timber

​​​Photo of a pallet

Timber and bamboo packaging made from solid timber or a combination of solid timber and reconstituted wood or plywood, requires mandatory treatment and must be declared on packing declarations (see the Non-Commodity Information Requirements Policy for details of the declarations required).

There are a number of treatment options and clearance mechanisms available for packaging and dunnage containing solid timber. Importers should ensure that it has either:

  • been treated in accordance with ISPM 15; or
  • undergone an acceptable offshore treatment in accordance with the import conditions outlined in BICON.

Where packaging and dunnage containing solid timber is not treated in accordance with ISPM 15 or where an acceptable offshore treatment has not been carried out, it will require a mandatory treatment when it arrives in Australia as per BICON, or may be exported or destroyed at the importers expense.

All packaging and dunnage containing solid timber (whether treated in accordance with ISPM or another acceptable form of treatment) must comply with ISPM 15 bark tolerance requirements.

For packaging and dunnage containing solid timber that also contains bamboo, see ‘packaging containing bamboo’ below.​

3. Packaging containing bamboo

Photo of a bamboo palletPhoto of bamboo pallet

Packaging containing bamboo includes, crates, cases, pallets, bearers and blocks made from the genus Bambusa, Dendrocalamus, Phyllostchys and allied genera, and packaging that contains a combination of timber and bamboo.

This packaging material requires a mandatory treatment (as detailed in BICON​) and must be declared on packing declarations. See the Non-Commodity Information Requirements Policy for details of the declarations required.

Documentary requirements

The Non-Commodity Information Requirements Policy contains detailed information on documentary requirements for packaging materials and containers. The documentary requirements for timber and bamboo packaging materials and dunnage differ depending on the type of consignment and the types of packaging materials used in the consignment.

The supplier or the packer of a container is required to complete a packing declaration for containerised cargo. Only Full Container Load and Less than Container Load consignments require a mandatory packaging declaration to be presented to the department. Packing declarations are not required for air and break bulk cargo consignments.

Cargo types not requiring a packing declaration will be subject to routine surveillance activities.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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