Guidance

Regulations: timber and FLEGT licences

Guidance for businesses trading in timber and timber-related products.

From 1 January 2021 there are some differences in the rules for importing and exporting timber in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and importing and exporting timber in Northern Ireland. Those differences are explained on this page.

Overview

The European Timber Regulation (EUTR) and Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) no longer apply in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales).

The Timber and Timber Products Placing on the Market Regulations (UKTR) and UK FLEGT Regulations apply in Great Britain from 1 January 2021 but the requirements remain the same as under EUTR.

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 UK – currently only Indonesia – must be accompanied by a FLEGT licence.

There are two separate regulatory regimes:

  • the UK Timber Regulations
  • the FLEGT Regulations

Each of these regulatory regimes consists of a suite of separate regulations, including:

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 full list of products covered by FLEGT is set out in the VPA with Indonesia.

Extent of obligation

Any natural or legal person who buys and sells timber or timber products already placed on the GB (England, Scotland and Wales) market – a trader – or first places timber or timber products on the GB market – an operator – is responsible for compliance.

How to comply

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 harvested timber on the GB market and to avoid doing so must first 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 to negligible, 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.

The following checklist (provided for reference) is used by OPSS to review due diligence systems. 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.)

Timber regulations: due diligence checklist (ODT, 65.2KB)

Monitoring organisations

Operators can either develop their own due diligence systems or use one provided by an approved monitoring organisation (MO).

Find out how to become an approved MO or find a list of MOs approved in the UK (PDF, 120KB, 2 pages)

  • The UK will recognise monitoring organisations based in the UK. These are independent bodies which can support businesses to comply with the Timber Regulation.
  • The UK will not automatically recognise EU or EEA monitoring organisations at the end of the Transition Period.
  • Businesses in Northern Ireland can still use EU or EEA monitoring organisations.

Trading through Northern Ireland

While NI remains part of the UK customs union, EU Timber regulations are in force. If you are moving timber to or from NI, you should be aware of the following:

  • There will be no new Due diligence checks on timber flowing from NI to GB.
  • Due diligence checks will take place on timber flowing from GB to NI.
  • Due diligence checks will take place on timber entering NI directly from non-EU countries. They will not take place if entering directly from an EU or EEA country.

Complying with the FLEGT licensing regulations

Timber imported from countries that have implemented VPAs with the UK – currently only Indonesia – must be accompanied by a FLEGT licence. Operators should obtain these from the supplier and submit them to OPSS at flegtenquiries@beis.gov.uk 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.

FLEGT licence verification form (ODT, 27.1KB)

FLEGT licence information sheet (PDF, 141KB, 2 pages)

The role of the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS)

OPSS is appointed by Defra to enforce the regulations in GB and NI, 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 to find out more

For traders or operators in Great Britain:

For traders or operators in Northern Ireland:

Contact us

If you have a specific enquiry about compliance or wish to contact us regarding suspected non-compliance we recommend that you complete the online enquiry form, choose the relevant legislation and follow the on screen instructions.

Alternatively you can contact our helpdesk on 0121 345 1201.

Or in writing to:

Office for Product Safety and Standards
4th Floor Cannon House
18 The Priory Queensway
Birmingham
B4 6BS
United Kingdom

Subscribe to our free email alert service to keep up to date on the latest developments concerning the legislation that OPSS enforces.

Published 2 April 2014
Last updated 27 August 2021 + show all updates
  1. List of monitoring organisations updated.

  2. Link added to the new voluntary partnership agreement (VPA) with Indonesia.

  3. First published.