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Korea’s regulation to promote legal timber trade

According to the 2012 report of INTERPOL, 15-30% of the world's timber products are estimated to be illegally harvested, and the value of the timber harvested is estimated at 111 trillion won ($ 100 billion) annually.

As such illegal logging causes serious environmental problems such as deforestation and climate change, recently, APEC encourages member states to introduce a system to promote trade in legal timber trade, and 32 countries, including the US, EU, and Australia, have already enacted and implemented relevant laws.

※ Countries introduced: United States('08), 28 countries of EU('13), Australia('14), Indonesia('16), Japan('16)

In response, the Korea Forest Service has implemented the Act on the Sustainable Use of Timber from October 1, 2018, after the revision in Mar. 21, 2017, to actively participate in international efforts to preserve the global forest environment and to import only legally harvested timber.

※ The related laws can be downloaded below:

Changes resulting from the introduction of the regulation

Starting October 1, 2018, only legally harvested timber and timber products can be imported.

In the meantime, in case that timber was imported, only tax return was filed under Article 38 of the Customs Act. However, as of October 1, 2018, import declarations must be made to the Minister of the Korea Forest Service according to Article 19-2 of the Act on the Sustainable Use of timber.

In addition, documents must be inspected for the legality of harvest, by the Korea Forestry Promotion Institute, an inspection agency designated by the KFS, before the completion of customs procedures.

Import Declaration Items

The applicable HS Codes for each item and item of import declaration according to Article 18-3 of the Enforcement Decree of the Law on Sustainable Use of timber are as follows.

  • 1. Log (HS4403)
  • 2. Sawn timber (HS4407)
  • 3. Anti-decay wood (HS4407)
  • 4. Fire-retardant treated wood (HS4407)
  • 5. Laminated wood(HS4407)
  • 6. Plywood (HS4412)
  • 7. Wood pellets (HS4401.31)

Timber legality verification document

Documents that can prove timber legality are as follows, according to Article 19-3 (2) of the Act on the Sustainable Use of timber:

  • A logging permit issued under the laws of the country of origin
  • Documents established and notified by KFS Minister as internationally accepted for certifying legally harvested timber or timber products;
  • Documents established and notified by KFS Minister as mutually recognized in accordance with the bilateral agreement between Korea and the country of origin;
  • Other documents established and notified by KFS Minister as proof of legal logging.
※ Detailed standards of timber legality proof document can be downloaded below:
※ Attached Form 1 can be available in case of the US, 28 EU countries, Australia, Japan and Indonesia, and the form can be downloaded below.

Import declaration process

  • The importer must obtain the documents to prove the legality of the timber or timber products to be imported.
  • The importer shall submit an import declaration to KFS Minister by attaching documents corresponding to any one of the subparagraphs of Article 3 of the “Detailed standards for Determining Legal Logging of Imported Timber/Timber Products” through UNI-PASS, the Electronic Customs Clearance System of the Customs Service.
  • If the result of the document inspection is appropriate, KFS Minister will issue a certificate of import declaration. The importer shall file a customs declaration to the head of a customs office, under the Customs Act, including the above documents, to clear customs.
  • In case the report is accepted in accordance with the latter part of Article 19-3 of the 「Act on the Sustainable Use of Timber」, supplementary documents must be submitted within 30 days of the completion of customs clearance. In this case, sales and distribution are prohibited until a confirmation certificate is issued.

To operate pre-consultation system

Regarding timber legality proving documents, to solve non-conformity issues which might occur during customs clearance in advance, KFS and KOFPI, the import inspection agency, are conducting 'pre-consultation' program by phone and e-mail.

*Email : importinspection@korea.kr

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