Did you know that the United States is the biggest consumer of wood products in the world? Despite its common use, there are many rules around the import of wood and timber products. Importing wood to the USA might seem like a daunting prospect, but it doesn’t have to be.
Importing wood to the U.S. requires importers to obtain a timber and timber products import permit from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). A customs bond is also required as wood is regulated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Many importers partner with a Customs Broker to ensure compliance.
Our guide below provides you with everything you need to know in order to successfully import wood to the U.S.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees the import of wood products through the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). APHIS sets the rules and regulations around how to import timber and wood products.
APHIS works to eliminate foreign pests and diseases from wood and wood products. APHIS requires that wood imports be heat treated or receive chemical treatments before entering the U.S. Heat treatment involves processing the wood in a kiln or microwave energy dryer. Chemical treatment involves fumigating the wood with a surface pesticide.
It takes approximately 30 days to receive the permit, so you will need to file in advance. The import permit indicates the type of treatment the wood requires: heat treatment or chemical treatment. You will also likely need a phytosanitary permit to import wood and wood products.
APHIS will also likely need to inspect your imported wood or timber products. APHIS inspection stations are located strategically near major seaports and airports. You can find APHIS inspection stations in:
At the inspection stations, APHIS agents and specialists examine imported wood and timber to make sure it is free of diseases and pests that could be damaging to U.S. natural resources and agriculture. These specialists also make sure the wood and timber adhere to Federal import permitting requirements and regulations.
It is important to know that wood products with bark imported from China might not be allowed entry in order to prevent the spread of wood-boring insects.
According to information from the USDA, all raw softwood lumber should be consigned to a facility with a valid compliance agreement with Plant Protection and Quarantine when the lumber is imported. The lumber and wood products must be heat treated within 30 days of release from the first port of arrival.
The USDA also states that the only softwood logs that are allowed entry into the U.S. are the Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata) from New Zealand and Chile, and Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) from Chile.
It's important to note that some types of wood, like Plywood and OSB, will have some additional requirements that need to be complied with. For example, Plywood from China can be subject to antidumping and countervailing duties. To learn more, check out our article How to Import OSB and Plywood From China.
If the wood you are importing comes in the form of trees from either natural or planted forest stands, you will need to fill out a declarations form. This form is very specific, asking for information such as the tree’s scientific name, country of harvest, value, and description. Christmas trees (Douglas & Fraser Firs being the most popular variety) come with a special set of rules. Learn more by reading our article on how to import Christmas trees.
If the wood you are importing is of an endangered species, it will fall under guidelines set by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES-listed types of wood and timber products include African Teak, Brazilian Rosewood, among others.
CITES rules also require that:
Teak is an important type of imported wood. Known for being watertight, teak wood is a hardwood commonly used in indoor and outdoor furniture, boats, flooring, decking and paneling. Teak is typically grown in Central America, Indonesia and India.
To import teak, you’ll need to file for an import permit and complete other documentation. You’ll also have to pay import duties and fees. One of our Licensed Customs Brokers can help you with this process.
You can start the teak import process by finding a supplier in the country of origin. From there, you will need to file PPQ Form 585 (application for permit to import plants or plant products), obtain a phytosanitary permit and pay any fees. Then you can confirm shipping arrangements with the supplier or handling agent. Teak can enter the country at many U.S. ports, so it might be wise to find one close to where the teak will be used or sold.
Like teak wood, rosewood is an incredibly popular wood known for its use in crafting musical instruments, specifically guitars, and Chinese furniture, known as “hongmu”. While the most common type of rosewood is grown in Brazil, you can also find species grown in Madagascar, parts of Central America and West Africa.
This wood is so sought after, in fact, that the entire Dalbergia genus is listed under the CITES list Appendix II (at risk and in need of protection), and Dalbergia nigra (Brazilian Rosewood) is listed under Appendix I, meaning it’s considered at risk of extinction.
So what does this mean for importers? While not completely banned, the import of rosewood is heavily regulated. In the U.S., importers must complete both PPQ Form 621 (Application for protected plant permit to engage in the business of importing, exporting, or re-exporting terrestrial plants or plant products that are protected) and PPQ Form 587. They’re also required to obtain an export certificate from the CITES Management Authority in the exporting country.
Similarly, if you plan to re-export rosewood out of the U.S., you will be required to obtain an export certificate from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
To learn more about importing rosewood to the U.S., take a look at our article that breaks down every details about the process.
Finished wood products, like wood furniture, are commonly imported to the U.S. You need to follow a few special rules when importing wood furniture. These rules help deter illegal logging and protect the U.S. from invasive species of insects. These rules also protect U.S. markets.
When importing wood furniture, you must follow the same inspection and permitting processes as with other wood products.
There might be some extra fees associated with importing wood from certain countries. It is important to note that wood furniture imported from China is also subject to anti-dumping duties. According to rules set in place by the Tariff Act of 1930, the U.S. government can place tariffs on goods sold at less than market value and “dumped” on U.S. markets.
Furniture imported from China is often less expensive than U.S. manufactured furniture and that makes anti-dumping rules apply. Wood furniture imported from China is often subject to these extra duties.
Want to learn more about importing wood furniture? Check out our complete guide on importing wood furniture to the U.S.
In addition to the permits and forms listed here, one of the most important things you’ll need in order to ship wood products internationally is the correct HTS codes. HTS codes are used for tariff and product classification and provide information on the import duty owed on goods when imported to a specific country.
Here you will be able to find the tariff rate of wood products depending on their form (logs, pellets, sawdust, etc.), type (coniferous or non-coniferous), species (cedar, pine, rosewood, douglas-fir, etc.) and a variety of other factors. Because wood and timber products can take so many forms, the duty rate may be measured in weight, dimensions, or the number of products you’re planning to import.
Once you have your HTS code and all of the proper documentation in place, it’s time to determine how to ship your wood. It’s critical to find a carrier and port of entry that works in order to get your wood imports to their destination as simply and easily as possible. In addition to Customs clearance, we can help you ship and store your wood no matter where you are in the United States.
Need more information about importing wood to USA? Whether you’re a lumber importer or want to import wood furniture, make, make the process easy and contact USA Customs Clearance today.
Our Licensed Customs Brokers handle your wood importing and shipping needs. You will find our value-added customs brokerage services can work seamlessly to provide you with a stress-free importing process. Have questions or ready to get started? Schedule a consulting session with our Licensed Customs Brokers and get the help you need.