Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Public sector timber procurement policy

Public sector timber procurement policy

This guidance is relevant to your business if you supply timber or wood-derived products to UK government departments, their executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies.

All government departments, agencies and bodies must buy all their timber and wood-derived products from either legal and sustainable sources or Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) licensed or equivalent sources.

Some other public bodies, such as local councils, have also adopted similar responsible timber procurement policies.

As a supplier you need to be aware of the government's timber procurement policy and how this might affect your business. Remember you may be part of a larger supply chain.

In the event of a No Deal Brexit

Please read guidance published on GOV.UK for the rules that will apply to buying and selling timber and timber products from 1 January 2021

GOV.UK: Trading timber. Imports and exports from 1 January 2021

If you import FLEGT licenced timber or timber products into the EU you will require a FLEGT licence. The National Measurements and Regulation Office (NMRO) can provide information about licences.

NMRO: flegtenquiries@nmro.gov.uk

New guidance has been produced to help mitigate the risks of illegally harvested timber entering the supply chain.

GOV.UK: Guidance on mitigating measures to mitigate the risk of illegally harvested timber entering the supply chain. (PDF, 173KB, 2 pages)

A digital service is being developed and this means you may need to complete a paper and electronic application. More information is available at:

UKNMO:  UK-specific FLEGT FAQs

If you import FLEGT-licensed timber, you will be required to submit the electronic FLEGT licence for verification to Regulatory Delivery before the timber arrives in the UK. Under an interim licence verification process, the FLEGT licence should be emailed to flegtenquiries@beis.gov.uk, along with a completed copy of the FLEGT licence verification form. This form is available at https://www.gov.uk/flegt.

Providing that the original licence was issued electronically, there is no need for the operator to submit a hard, paper copy to Regulatory Delivery; a submission of the electronic licence will suffice for verification purposes. The cost of licence verification is £9.60 per licence. Operators will be invoiced at the end of the current financial year in order to collect payment for licences verified from 15 November 2016.

Regulatory Delivery will continue to develop the UK FLEGT online system. A Customs Information Paper on the import process for FLEGT-licensed products can be found at https://www.gov.uk/publications/FLEGT. If you use a freight forwarder or agent please check that they are aware of these requirements.

The EC has developed a website as an information point for FLEGT licences. It has a comprehensive Frequently Asked Question section.

FLEGT Licenced Timber - Essential Information

The cost of a FLEGT licence has been reduced - from £31 to £9.60

Does the timber procurement policy apply to your business?

The policy applies to your business if you supply timber or wood-derived products for use by a:

  • central government department, eg the Ministry of Defence
  • executive agency, eg Highways Agency or
  • non-departmental public body, eg Scottish Natural Heritage or the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

What does the timber procurement policy cover?

The policy covers materials and products including:

  • timber used in construction, including as part of temporary site works, eg joists, window and door frames, site hoardings, formwork etc.
  • office furniture, eg desks, shelving etc.
  • office products, eg paper, notebooks, other stationery items etc.
  • packaging materials or products, eg cardboard packaging, pallets etc.
  • wood chips for producing energy
  • fencing.

If you supply any of these materials and products to government departments, agencies or bodies you must check that they come from approved sources.

You should check the origin of your materials or products. If necessary ask your suppliers for details.

You must be able to provide evidence that your products comply with the timber procurement policy if requested. The evidence should state the source of the timber or product and prove that this source is legally and sustainably managed. For example, you could use chain of custody certificates from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes (PEFC).

Further information on the timber procurement policy

The Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET) provides free advice and guidance to public sector buyers and their suppliers about the timber procurement policy and how to comply.

If you are not sure whether your product is covered by the policy or what type of evidence will be accepted contact the CPET Helpline or see their website for further advice.

Email: cpet@proforest.net

CPET Helpline: 01865 243766


CPET:UK Policy -Timber procurement for public sector

CPET: UK Government's Timber Procurement Advice Note (2013) (Adobe PDF - 594KB)

GOV.UK: Guidance on mitigating measures to mitigate the risk of illegally harvested timber entering the supply chain. (PDF, 173KB, 2 pages)

Scottish Government: Scottish Procurement Policy Note SPPN 09/2004 Procurement of Timber and Timber Products (Adobe PDF - 128KB)

Scottish Government: Scottish Procurement Policy Note 9 of 2005 Timber and Timber Products

Northern Ireland Executive: Procurement Guidance Note 04/06 - Procurement of Timber and Wood Products (Adobe PDF - 235KB)

WWF: Responsible sourcing of forest products

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