About the FLEGT licence
This resource explains FLEGT licences, a special document that facilitates the entry of timber and timber products to the EU market. It describes what a FLEGT licence is and how FLEGT licences benefit timber operators in the EU and timber producers in countries outside the EU. It describes how FLEGT licences link two major features of the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Action Plan on illegal logging and associated trade: the EU Timber Regulation and Voluntary Partnership Agreements. For more information visit the frequently asked questions on FLEGT-licensed timber.
FLEGT licences are documents issued by timber-producing countries that have ratified a Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the EU. The licences confirm that timber or timber products comply fully with the relevant laws of the country of export. FLEGT-licensed timber and timber products are considered to comply with the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation, which prohibits EU importers and EU timber producers from placing illegally harvested timber and timber products on the EU market. EU importers therefore do not need to undertake further due diligence on FLEGT-licensed timber.
In order for a VPA country to issue FLEGT licences, it must put in place a timber legality assurance system and other measures outlined in the VPA. When fully operational, VPA timber legality assurance systems are robust and credible. Legality assurance systems control supply chains, verify legal compliance and are independently audited. The systems are built on practical definitions of legality that have been developed through participatory processes involving stakeholders from government, the private sector and civil society.
FLEGT licences therefore indicate that products comply with a broad range of laws and regulations in the partner country, such as a selection of those relating to forest management, environmental aspects, labour rights, community benefits, import and export procedures, and payments of fees and taxes.
Advantages of FLEGT-licensed timber
FLEGT licences discourage illegal trade and level the playing field for law-abiding businesses. The advantage for EU traders is that FLEGT licences eliminate the risk of importing illegal products. Operators trading in FLEGT-licensed products do not need to undertake further due diligence, which can be time-consuming and costly. Authorities responsible for enforcing the EU Timber Regulation in EU Member States recognise FLEGT licences as proof of legality.
The advantage for partner countries is that FLEGT-licensed timber products are considered legal under the EU Timber Regulation, making it easier for EU operators to import their products. Once a country begins issuing FLEGT licences to products listed in its Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), EU member states will not allow such products to enter the EU unless they have a valid FLEGT licence. FLEGT licensing strengthens legal trade and excludes illegal trade.
The supply and demand measures of FLEGT
The EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan addresses illegal logging through demand- and supply-side measures that facilitate legitimate trade in timber products. Demand-side measures include the EU Timber Regulation, while supply-side measures include Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) with timber-producing countries outside the EU. The FLEGT-licensing scheme links these demand-side and supply-side measures.
FLEGT licensing brings social, environmental and economic benefits
FLEGT licences show that a country manages its forests in line with forest management and environment laws, as well as labour and community welfare legislation. They show that logging rights have been granted according to the law, and that timber is legally harvested. The licences also confirm that products comply with legal requirements for trade and export, and that required taxes and fees are paid.