What is the Story about Taking or Sending Wood Overseas
Update (April 25, 2022): The guidelines have changed and many countries now say wooden goods are prohibited. We will look into it further and write an updated blog post.
Many of our customers come to our online store looking for Australian made gifts to take or send overseas and a frequently asked question is whether there is any problem with this; are the goods treated ( no ) and do they have accompanying documents to say so ( they don’t need them ) - generally, what is the story on taking wooden articles to overseas destinations. In a nutshell the story is there is no problem at all! With the exception of New Zealand it is safe to take or send wooden products to just about everywhere including the US, Europe and Asia.
No mention of wooden products on either of these arrival cards – Japan and the USA
So Why do People Worry?
People are aware that there is a problem with Australia and wood but don’t realise the concern is with wood coming into Australia, not going out. Think about all those happy tourists who leave the country every day clutching their wooden didjeridoos and boomerangs, all quite confident of taking them home to be given pride of place among the travel souvenirs – no problem there at all. For the whole EU, the only oblique reference to restrictions on wood (wood being a plant material) are that “Some food and plant products are restricted if they: a) aren’t free from pests and diseases b) aren’t for your own use c) weren’t grown in the EU” . For a little anecdotal information, we have shipped hundreds of items to the UK and Europe without a hiccup.
Examples of finished wooden products
Wooden Products Coming into Australia & New Zealand
These two countries have very strict regulations about bringing in wooden products. Both are islands and free of many of the diseases and pests found in other parts of the world so understandably they want to remain that way. If you want to take or send a wooden product to New Zealand it must be declared and will possibly be inspected depending on the nature of the article. Wood with bark attached or insect holes or in a raw unfinished state will attract attention while finished wooden products will usually be allowed through. Regarding our range, the Banksia products and the Ironbark coasters could raise a flag – the Banksia having seed holes that could harbour insects and the Ironbark coasters still having bark attached. NZ customs, if they decide a piece of wood is a problem will offer the following choices which also apply to Australia:
- Have it destroyed (no charge).
- Have it treated (at your cost) - takes a few days after which you can collect it
- Have it shipped back to the country of origin (at your cost)
Having said that we have sent many of both these products to NZ in the past with no consequences. We assume that if they were inspected they were judged clean.
There is no problem, or certification required, in sending or taking wooden products overseas with the exception of New Zealand whose Customs may inspect products of unfinished timber if they think it necessary. Just remember all those boomerangs and didgeridoos leaving the country every day bound for the four corners of the globe! If you want to bring in that carved wooden mask from New Guinea however, you might be with Customs for some time.