I am considering importing items from New Zealand, made from ancient kauri wood, items ranging from jewelry pieces to coffee tables, for re-sale. What are the import/duty requirements of such an operation?
Country of Origin
New Zealand maintains normal trade relations with the US, so there are no specific trade restrictions that would interfere with imports from that country.
The duty amount payable would depend largely on the types of item being imported rather than the material they are made from. Coffee tables, for example are found in chapter 94 of the USHTS, while wooden jewelry would likely be found in chapter 71. You will need to classify each type of article being imported and assign it an HTS number to determine the rate of duty for that item.
Imports of Wood
The USDA (US Department of Agriculture) publishes regulations regarding the importation of wood products (including craft products manufactured from natural plant materials) in chapter 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations. One of their primary missions is to prevent the spread of insects and disease that could have an environmental impact on the United States.
Although there is no mention specifically of kauri wood in chapter 7, import restrictions of wood products from New Zealand are mentioned in 7CFR319.40-5, but they are with regard to logs and unrefined lumber. A list of regulated products can be found on the USDA website. To ensure your import is not regulated by the USDA, you should determine the class and genus of the wood used in your commodity and check it against this list or with your local USDA office. Some woods may be subject to a visual inspection, and if determined to be pest free, will be allowed entry into the United States. Others must be treated to ensure that they are pest free before they can be brought into the US.
I am going to import solid oak floor and engineered oak floor from China. Do I need a license for doing this?
Wood from China is a tightly restricted commodity due to a concern for disease and pest carrying imports. Manufactured wood products that undergo intensive heat and pressure in their fabrication are exempted, but solid oak flooring may be subject to the USDA Suspension of Manufactured Wood Item Imports from China which states:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service APHIS), beginning April 1, 2005, will suspend the importation of craft items from China that contain wooden logs, limbs, branches, or twigs greater than 1 centimeter in diameter and with intact bark. Manufactured wood items that have been heat treated or fumigated with methyl bromide and have had 100 percent of the bark removed are not subject to the import suspension.
Is there a requirement for fumigation for pallets made of plywood?
There is no fumigation requirement because plywood is a product of heat and pressure that by nature of its manufacturing process is free of pest and plant-born disease. You can read about the requirements for wood packaging material on the APHIS (Animal Plant Health Inspection) portion of the USDA website.
I am undertaking a trip to Australia in October and a friend who is a woodworker has asked if I could bring back some native wood for him to work with in his backyard woodshop. He uses the pieces to make small bowls and things out of and doesn’t market any of the finished wood commercially at all. What would be required to bring in 3 pieces about a foot long each for him?
Regardless of whether the wood is for commercial or individual use, you will be asked to declare it to US Customs when you return to the United States. Many types of wood are subject to inspection, and if declared pest-free, will be allowed to enter the United States. Some, however, must be fumigated or subjected to heat treatment before they can be imported. Before leaving the US, you should determine the scientific name of the wood you will be importing and check with US Customs and the USDA regarding the import requirements for that species.
I have shipped household goods from the U.S. to Papua New Guinea and would now like to return some of them in one of my original crates that was constructed from American plywood and dimensional lumber. I have heard that the dimensional lumber used is an issue with international shipping now. Do I have to remove and replace the 2×4 braces in my crate or would it be allowable for return shipping?
Yes, you will have to replace or treat the dimensional lumber according to the Wood Packing Material Questions and Answers (Phase II):
- Dimensional lumber used as a bracing in pallets/crates otherwise constructed of plywood must meet proper heat or chemical treatment to ensure that they are free from pests and disease prior to importation.
- Because country of origin will be nearly impossible to confirm for imported pallets and crates, all wood packing materials are assumed to be of foreign origin and are subject to the Wood Packing Material requirements.
Please note: This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not specific legal advice. As an importer, it is your responsibility to meet all the legal requirements for importing goods.