How to create durable ISPM 15 compliance marks on wooden pallets
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How to create durable ISPM 15 compliance marks on wooden pallets

Shipping products using wood packaging and dunnage between countries is a process regulated by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). Wooden materials like pallets and crates can potentially carry diseases or insects from one country into another where an infestation would negatively impact the ecosystem. Composed of 175 member countries, the IPPC has established requirements around the treatment of wood packaging leaving and entering their countries to prevent infestations that could be harmful to their local plant life.

What is the process for treating wood pallets used to ship exported goods?

According to International Standards For Phytosanitary Measures No. 15 (ISPM 15), wood materials greater than 6mm in width require debarking and heat treatment or methyl bromide fumigation. If heat treated, the wood pallet must be treated for at least 30 minutes and maintain a core temperature of 133° F. After the heat treatment or fumigation, pallets must then be stamped or branded with a compliance mark. Exceptions to this process include products made from an alternative material, like paper, plastic, plywood, particle board or fiberboard.

What does the ISPM 15 compliance mark consist of?

To indicate proper heat treatment or methyl bromide fumigation with wood pallets, a 2” stamp of compliance is required. The mark consists of: a tree symbol, country code, producer code and treatment code. This compliance stamp is required on every 24 inches along the pallet.

  • XX – 2-letter country code
  • 0000 – series of unique alphanumerics to indicate the wood treatment agent or packaging manufacturer
  • YY – treatment code; either HT (heat treatment) or MB (methyl bromide) 


Non-compliance may result in shipments being rejected by customs, resulting in costly fees associated with the re-export of the goods for the importer.

How can manufacturers of wood pallets easily and cost-effectively create the ISPM 15?

ISPM15 pallet marking requirements are commonly met with the use of stamp rollers, stencils or hot branders. Whether manual or automated, these techniques are costly, consume considerable electricity and are potential fire hazards.

A more efficient alternative to hot branders or stencils is automated high resolution inkjet coding. This method of applying the ISPM 15 mark has proven successful amongst lumber suppliers and created third party approved ISPM 15 marks. High resolution inkjet creates a durable 2” mark that can withstand the heat or methyl bromide treatments pallets must be put through. With mark legibility as a priority for pallet manufacturers to maintain compliance, inkjet marks created with a lightfast ink satisfy readable compliance standards just as well as heat branded marks or stencils. As an added benefit, inkjet technology has the potential to create variable codes for shipping facility locations or manufacturing date codes. To achieve variable codes with stamps, stencils or hot branders would require investing in a unique and expensive coder.

Our Product Identification Experts at Diagraph – a leading provider of marking and coding solutions to satisfy traceability requirements – have experience working with pallet suppliers and are available to help you strategize the best ways to achieve compliance in your pallet production. Call us today at 1.800.722.1125 for more information on high resolution inkjet technologies

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