Guidance for businesses trading in timber and timber-related products.
Timber supply chains are regulated to ensure harvesting practices are legal, encourage sustainable harvesting practices and support global forest governance. Businesses trading in timber and timber products must take steps to ensure that they originate from legal sources.
Timber imported from countries that have implemented voluntary partnership agreements (VPAs) with the EU – currently only Indonesia – must be accompanied by a forest law enforcement, governance and trade (FLEGT) licence.
The Timber and Timber Products (Placing on the Market) Regulations 2013 and the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Regulations 2012 (as amended) are the underpinning legislation.
What is covered?
The regulations cover imported and domestic timber and a broad range of timber products, including composites such as furniture, pulp and paper.
The regulations do not apply to recycled products or printed papers such as books, magazines and newspapers. Packaging materials are also exempt if they support, protect or carry another product, but are covered if they are products in their own right (or containers that give products their essential character, such as decorative gift boxes).
The full list of products covered by FLEGT is set out in the VPA with Indonesia.
Who is responsible for compliance?
Any natural or legal person who buys and sells timber or timber products already placed on the EU market – a trader – or first places timber or timber products on the EU market – an operator – is responsible for compliance.
How do I comply with the timber regulations?
Traders must keep records of who they buy timber or timber products from, and any traders they sell them to.
Operators must not place illegally harvest timber on the EU market and to avoid doing so must apply a due diligence system, under which they:
gather information on timber, including its species, quantity, supplier, country of harvest and compliance with applicable legislation
assess the risk of timber being illegal, applying set criteria in the regulations
mitigate any identified risk, by obtaining additional information or taking further steps to verify legality
All species in composites must be considered separately, but where they are a mix of virgin and recycled timbers, only the former need to be assessed.
Operators can either develop their own due diligence systems or use one provided by an approved monitoring organisation.
The following checklist is used to review due diligence systems by officers from the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPS&S) and is provided for reference. It indicates the information that operators need to demonstrate compliance. (The depth of supporting evidence required varies with risk, depending on factors such as the complexity of the supply chain, species risk, country risk and the nature of the product.)
How do I comply with the FLEGT licensing regulations?
Timber imported from countries that have implemented VPAs with the EU – currently only Indonesia – must be accompanied by a FLEGT licence. Operators should obtain these from the supplier and submit them to OPS&S at email@example.com for verification before the customs declaration is made, together with a completed copy of the following form. This submission may be made on behalf of the operator by a third party, such as an agent or freight forwarder. Once verified, the relevant timber is considered legal, removing the obligation to exercise due diligence.
What is the role of the Office for Product Safety and Standards?
OPS&S has been appointed by Defra to enforce the regulations in the UK, checking that appropriate records are maintained by traders and operators, ensuring that the due diligence systems of operators are fit for purpose, and verifying FLEGT licences.
Where can I find out more?
Timber regulation (European Commission)
This includes the list of approved monitoring organisations and guidance on EU timber regulation (at the bottom of the page).
FLEGT voluntary partnership agreements (European Commission)
If you have a specific enquiry about compliance with the regulations, please use the contact details on our enforcement services page.
Subscribe to our free email alert service to keep up to date on the latest developments concerning the legislation that OPS&S enforces.