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Summaries of EU Legislation

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Licensing system for imports of timber to the EU

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Licensing system for imports of timber to the EU


Council Regulation (EC) No 2173/2005 setting up the FLEGT licensing scheme for timber imports



Known as the forest law enforcement, governance and trade (FLEGT) regulation, it establishes a licensing scheme that ensures that the wood imported into the EU is harvested legally.

It complements Regulation (EU) No 995/2010, which aims to combat illegal logging.


This regulation applies to imports of timber products listed in Annexes II and III from partner countries listed in Annex I.

Membership in the FLEGT licensing scheme is implemented through voluntary partnership agreements (VPAs) with timber-producing countries that wish to sign such agreements. Each VPA specifies the agreed schedule and the commitments.

Exporting countries that sign a VPA must develop a verification system for the legality of their timber products.

All timber shipments from VPA countries must be accompanied by a FLEGT licence that certifies compliance with the requirements of the FLEGT licensing scheme. Without a FLEGT licence, timber shipments cannot enter the EU market.

When there is any doubt about the validity of a FLEGT licence at an EU border, competent authorities must request further verification by the authority that issued the licence (the costs of the check are met by the importer unless the EU country in question decides otherwise). Customs authorities may suspend the release of timber if they believe the FLEGT licence to be invalid.

EU countries must determine the sanctions to be imposed for violation of this regulation.

Each year before 30 April, EU countries have to submit a report to the European Commission that indicates:

the quantities of timber products imported into their territory under the FLEGT licensing scheme;

the number of licences received;

the number of cases and quantities of timber and timber products imported without a FLEGT licence (i.e. prohibited imports).

Regulation (EU) No 657/2014 amended Regulation (EC) No 2173/2005 as regards the delegated and implementing powers of the European Commission.


From 30 December 2005.


The FLEGT authorisation system was first proposed in 2003 by the forest law enforcement, governance and trade action plan, which aimed to combat illegal logging and improve the supply and demand of legal timber. It mainly targeted the timber-rich regions of central Africa, Russia, South East Asia, and parts of South America.

For more information, see the European Commission’s website on forests.


Council Regulation (EC) No 2173/2005 of 20 December 2005 on the establishment of a FLEGT licensing scheme for imports of timber into the European Community (OJ L 347, 30.12.2005, pp. 1-6)

The successive amendments to Regulation (EC) No 2173/2005 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market (OJ L 295, 12.11.2010, pp. 23-34)

last update 10.11.2015