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Korea: new regulation against illegal timber trade

The Republic of Korea aims to stop the trade in illegally-felled timber and is introducing new legislation accordingly. The new regulation will apply to exporters from October 1, 2019.

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Korea’s new law on the sustainable use of wood has been trialed in a test phase launched in October 2018. The aim here is to promote the legal timber trade by restricting the import and distribution of illegally harvested wood. According to the Korean authorities, the test phase was successful. While 80% of the documents had still not been submitted correctly in November 2018, that proportion had fallen to 20% by June 2019.

Declaration process for importers

The new regulation concerns the following types of wood: round timber, sawn timber, anti-fouling wood, wood products treated with fire retardants, lumber-core plywood, cross-plywood and wood pellets.

When importing these products into Korea, Swiss exporters must proceed as follows:

  • An importer submits an import declaration to the Minister of the Korea Forest Service. This works via UNI-PASS, an electronic customs clearance system provided by Korean customs.
  • Submitted documents are checked by the inspection body. If the documents are complete and correct, the Minister issues a certificate for the import declaration. If, on the other hand, the import declaration is accepted subject to conditions, the importer must submit additional documents to the inspection body within 30 days.

If the importer has not inspected the imported timber according to the legislation, the wood may not be sold in Korea. It must be returned or destroyed. Violations of Korea’s new timber law may result in fines of up to 30,000 US dollars or custodial sentences of up to three years.

Do you have questions about exporting timber to Korea?

Contact Jacqueline Tschumi, consultant for Korea at Switzerland Global Enterprise by phone at 044 365 54 83 or by email. Contact

Further information on the regulations for the export of timber products to Korea can be found in the PDF at the end of this article.

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