What is fumigation? Procedures and goods requiring fumigation?

For many import markets, Vietnamese goods must undergo the fumigation process and have accompanying documentation. Similarly, Vietnamese customs also have strict requirements for fumigating exported goods. So, what is fumigation? What types of goods need to be fumigated? Let’s explore this with SSR Logistics in the following article. 

What is fumigation of export goods

What is fumigation of export goods? 

Fumigation is a crucial process that ensures the safety and quality of certain commodities during import-export. This technique involves using chemical agents to treat pests such as termites, moths, and insects in agricultural goods or those originating from wood. The fumigation process is mandatory for specific commodity groups such as grains, fruits, and vegetables, as these goods are highly susceptible to pest infestations that can cause significant damage and loss.  

Fumigation involves enclosing the goods in a sealed chamber and introducing the chemical agent in the form of a gas. The gas penetrates the packaging and the goods, killing all pests present, including their eggs and larvae. The treated goods are then ventilated to remove any residue of the fumigant.  


Fumigation of Export Goods 

The fumigation process is regulated by international and national standards to ensure that the chemicals used are safe, effective, and do not harm the environment or human health. Importers and exporters must comply with these regulations and obtain the necessary permits and certificates before shipping goods that require fumigation.  

Overall, fumigation is an essential process that protects the integrity of international trade by preventing the spread of pests and diseases that can have significant economic and environmental consequences. 

Why fumigation is needed? 

The primary goal of fumigation is to ensure the hygiene and quality of goods. Dry agricultural goods that are packed in containers for transportation often sit for over 24 hours and are highly susceptible to becoming moldy and containing microorganisms. To prevent disease transmission and harm, businesses must issue disinfection certificates, committing to disinfection. 

Countries such as the Americas, Australia, and Canada have very strict import regulations, and ensuring fumigated shipments is crucial to prevent goods from being returned to the origin country and avoid heavy penalties.  

Marine transportation time is long, and it takes around 20 days for goods from Vietnam to reach Europe. During this time, goods packed in sealed containers experience high temperatures (over 40°C) and a humid environment that facilitates rapid breeding of mold and insects. 

Therefore, Vietnamese exporters transporting overseas goods must carry out fumigation procedures and obtain fumigation certificates to ensure their goods meet the necessary standards and avoid any potential issues. 

Commodity groups requiring fumigation certificates for export 

Commodity groups such as coffee, rice, corn, pepper, cashew nuts, beans, and others that fall under dry agricultural products require fumigation certificates for export. Additionally, product packaging materials originating from wood, jute bags, and wood pallets, as well as goods made of wood such as jute straps, wood pallets for ceramic products, wood crates for machinery, parts, and pallets for dry goods, also require fumigation certificates for export. Other goods may also be required by import countries. It is important to ensure good quality fumigation, as poor fumigation quality can lead to negative consequences. 


Wood and wood products for export require a fumigation certificate. 

Fumigation Process for Export Goods 

Exported goods that require fumigation can be treated in two ways. The first method is to apply disinfectant on wooden pallets and seal confirmation within 1-2 days. After that, fumigation documents will be issued. The second method is to fumigate the empty container before packing the goods. Nowadays, the most commonly used fumigation method is post-packing when the container is sealed. This method is fast, simple, and has higher potential coverage. 

Chemicals commonly used to fumigate export goods 

Currently, export goods are often fumigated using chemicals. The main chemicals used include: Methyl Bromide (CH3Br), Phosphine (PH3), Aluminium Phosphide (AlP). Specifically: 

Methyl Bromide (CH3Br) 

Methyl Bromide (CH3Br) is a chemical that has been widely used for disinfection purposes. It is known for its excellent diffusion and penetration abilities and is commonly used to disinfect large shipments, warehouses, or cargo holds with a capacity of tens of thousands of cubic meters. Methyl Bromide (CH3Br) is also used to treat various dry agricultural goods, handicrafts, wood products, fresh vegetables, flowers, and fruits to ensure their quality and prevent the spread of pests and diseases. 

Phosphine (PH3) 

Phosphine can be used as an effective replacement for Methyl Bromide in fumigation, although it lacks thorough penetration ability and requires longer incubation time. 

Aluminium Phosphide (AlP) 

AlP is the initial formula for the fumigant Phosphine (PH3), which is a toxic gas used to eliminate insects. When placed in a disinfection space, AlP combines with the moisture present in the air to release PH3. Due to this, disinfection time for AlP tends to be longer than Methyl Bromide.  

When goods are transported and require fumigation, freight forwarders and customs brokers assist customers with the necessary paperwork and procedures as per the customs requirements. This ensures that the paperwork processing for goods always happens quickly. 

Documents required for fumigation certificate 

To obtain a fumigation certificate, you need to submit the Commercial Invoice, Packing List, and Bill of Lading. The certificate will be issued 2-3 days after the completion of onboard goods fumigation and the submission of complete paperwork. The relevant authority will provide you with the certificate.

How important is goods fumigation and what if businesses forget or fumigate inadequately? 

No Fumigation: 

In 2009, an exporter of ceramic products shipped a 40-foot container to Europe without fumigating the wood pallets, which was a necessary packaging requirement. Upon arrival, the customs authority discovered this and imposed a fine of 20,000 EUR (over 400 million VND). The authority demanded that the goods be either returned or destroyed locally. 

Forgotten Fumigation: 

Businesses involved in import-export procedures may sometimes forget to fumigate their goods. In 2010, a handicraft exporter realized this mistake in their shipment to Europe on time. Luckily, the goods were still at the Singapore port. This company had to request the Singapore branch of the shipping line to fumigate the container; the cost was close to USD 600 for a 20-foot container. 

Inadequate Fumigation: 

Although the exporter had requested a fumigation service, Australian Customs still requested re-fumigation because the quality was unsatisfactory. The fumigation service normally requires the use of chemicals and a duration of 12 hours before the container is loaded aboard the vessel at HCMC port. It should be noted that the cost incurred was about USD 1,000 per 20-foot container. Australia is very strict about fumigation requirements. For imported goods with packaging, exporters must provide a Fumigation Certificate and a Packing Declaration listing the packaging material components. This declaration must be submitted to the Australian importer soon after the vessel departs HCMC. 

Unaccepted Fumigation Certificates: 

There were cases when Australian Customs did not accept fumigation certificates from some Vietnamese fumigation service providers due to quality issues. To avoid this, businesses should consult freight forwarders or brokers who have Australian agents who can verify the information. 

Consequences of not ensuring the quality of fumigation 

Fumigating goods is a critical process that businesses must not forget or perform incorrectly. The consequences of such mistakes can be severe and may include facing substantial fines amounting to hundreds of millions of Vietnamese dong, compulsory return or destruction of goods at the port, rejection of fumigation certificates, and requiring re-fumigation at a significantly high cost.


Fumigation is a crucial step for goods that require a fumigation certificate 

Where can goods be fumigated? 

If you’re in need of fumigating your goods, you can search for companies that offer fumigation services online or ask your contacts for recommendations. However, for quick and dependable service, it’s recommended to seek advice and obtain fumigation certificates for your goods from SSR Logistics. 

SSR Logistics is a company that provides both customs clearance and fumigation services. They guarantee that you will receive fumigation certificates that meet the importing country’s regulations. 

In addition, with a modern warehouse system and an experienced transportation team, SSR Logistics also provides a variety of accompanying services such as: warehouse leasing, domestic transportation, international transportation by sea and air, and international express delivery

With devotion and high responsibility, SSR Logistics is confident it can meet all the stringent requirements of customers, delivering a world-class import-export service experience. 

In summary, fumigating goods plays a crucial role in the logistics and import-export industry, requiring assurance of quality and adherence to the regulations of this process. Hopefully, it gives you an overview of fumigation. See more articles in our Logistics Knowledge section. 

If your business still has difficulties with fumigation and customs declaration procedures. Please get in touch with us, SSR Logistics, for a free consultation on customs declaration procedures or to learn more about our customs declaration service here

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