Certification Programs

Setting the Standard for Excellence in the Hardwood Industry

NHLA offers hardwood-specific certification programs to improve profitability, differentiate your company from competition, and attract customers.

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NHLA Strap And Seal Financial Guarantee

The NHLA Strap & Seal Financial Guarantee provides peace of mind to both buyer and seller that the contents of a shipment will meet or exceed the expectations of the purchase contract. The packages are all strapped and sealed using individual serial numbers, identifying that the packages were inspected by an official NHLA Inspector and documented to ensure the validity of the inspection. If for any reason there is a quality issue with a financially guaranteed shipment, NHLA will reimburse the buyer the difference in the value of the shipment! This program is available for domestic shipments only.

NHLA Facility Grade (FG) Certification (Members Only)

The NHLA Facility Grade Certification Program raises the industry standard. The Program is a voluntary quality assurance program (QAP) for NHLA members who manufacture, sell, or purchase hardwood lumber. Companies that participate in the program are illustrating to customers and potential customers their willingness to openly submit to independent quality checks. Being “NHLA Certified” differentiates your business from the competition and assures customers that your lumber is “On Grade.” Contact the NHLA Chief Inspector (901-377-1818) to learn how this program can enhance your reputation and give your company a competitive edge.

Companies who participate in the Facility Grade Certification program are noted on the NHLA Membership Directory and in the printed NHLA Buyers Guide.

Learn More About The FG Certification Purpose

The following regulations outline the requirements to qualify under the program and the benefits to the Members who participate in this program. These requirements and benefits may be changed by the Association from time to time.

  • The NHLA Facility Grade Certification Program is a voluntary quality assurance program available only to NHLA Members. Inquiries can be directed to NHLA headquarters. 
  • Approval of a Member’s grading practices will be made from the NHLA Chief Inspector’s office after the appropriate evaluation has been conducted. 
  • The NHLA member is required to sign a license agreement to qualify under the NHLA Facility Grade Certification Program. 
  • To qualify under the program, the member must satisfy the following conditions: 1. An initial site visit by an NHLA Inspector at each facility. 2. The site visit must include comparison grading for money value of at least 7,500 board feet of lumber selected by the NHLA Inspector. The monetary value of all lumber checked must be within 4% total monetary value of the NHLA Inspector’s findings to receive a “passing” grade for the site visit. 
  • The Member facility that qualifies for the program agrees to submit to two follow-up visits from a National Inspector to spot-check lumber quality annually. 
  • Total cost to enroll in the NHLA Facility Grade Certification Program is $1,740 per year – which includes all services and fees.

After the initial inspection of the Member facility by an NHLA Inspector, the facility is issued a formal License Agreement indicating that its lumber inspection procedures qualify under the NHLA Facility Grade Certification Program.

Upon signing the agreement, the facility is formally licensed to use the Association’s registered Facility Grade Certification logo under the following terms and conditions:

Licensees may use the official logo of the NHLA Facility Grade Certification Program on hardwood lumber of the standard grades. 

  • Licensees may only mark or represent lumber produced or received at a facility certified under the program.
  • The license may be withdrawn by the Association for violation of the terms of this agreement or for failure to remain in good standing. 
  • No action to withdraw the license will be taken by the Association until the Member has received written notice within thirty (30) days of the alleged violation of this agreement.
  • If a facility fails to meet the 4% value differential, the facility must agree to up to 2 days of in-house inspector training as determined by the inspector. Training must take place within 90 days of noncompliance and will be billed at $870 per day.
  • The licensee, upon receipt of notice of intent to remove eligibility, will have ten (10) days to request an appeal.
  • On appeal, the Chief Inspector or National Inspector may perform a re-inspection at the facility in question at the expense of the licensee. The Chief Inspector’s determination after re-inspection shall be final.
  • If the Chief Inspector determines that the licensee is no longer eligible under the NHLA Facility Grade Certification Program, the licensee may reapply to the program after six months.
  • The Association accepts no responsibility for settlement of claims. Settlement of claims is strictly between the seller and buyer.
  • The Association accepts no responsibility for financial losses as a result of claims.
  • The Association is not responsible for enforcing agreements between the buyer and seller.

NHLA Sales Code Including Settlement by Mutual Agreement

By entering into this agreement, the licensee agrees to settle claims resulting from shipping or receiving lumber under the terms of the current version of the NHLA Sales Code, including settlement by mutual agreement between buyer and seller.

Only the Chief Inspector’s office has the authority to withdraw eligibility from a licensee participating in the program. The conditions for removal from eligibility include:
1. Representing sales of lumber not eligible for the NHLA Facility Grade Certification Program as “certified.”
2. Failure to reach a satisfactory quality level in money value comparisons after two successive site visits.
3. Failure to settle claims on certified lumber shipments under the NHLA Sales Code, including settlement by mutual agreement.

Sustainability Verification Certificate (SVC)

The National Hardwood Lumber Association offers members a Sustainability Verification Certificate to help answer questions regarding the sustainability of North American hardwoods.

Produced in collaboration with the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), this letter is designed to be given to your customers as documentation of North American hardwood sustainability. It shows that NHLA and its members are committed to the sustainability, education, and advocacy of North American Hardwoods.

The sustainability of North American hardwoods has been documented and supported by several scientific and academic reports and independent and government agencies.  This is what the seal looks like:

Certification Programs nhla sustainability verification certificate

NHLA Kiln Drying (KD) Certification

The NHLA Kiln Drying certification program can save exporters time and money. The program achieves the same goals as the APHIS Phytosanitary Certificate at a lower cost to your business.

View a list of the current KD Certified Companies HERE

If you have questions about your current KD Certification, please contact us at 901-377-1818 or email us HERE.

The USDA-APHIS is actively pursuing the acceptance of the program in many countries including China, please submit additional countries that are not on the list that would be beneficial to our Chief Inspector.

Current list of countries that accept the NHLA Kiln Drying Certificate: 

  • Australia (Accepts KD Certificate, but with higher temperature requirements 74°C for 18 hours. )
  • Brazil 
  • Mexico 
  • Vietnam 
  • Venezuela 

European Union Members*†: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom. Non-EU Members*†: Albania, Montenegro, and Switzerland follow the EU requirements.

*Oak species only, bark-free.

† Ash with unlimited wane is now accepted on the NHLA KD Certificate with a PHYTO with additional steps needed below:

1. Separate Process Manual for this portion of the program.
     a. Including Aerial photo or drawing of facility.
     b. Process flow chart of operation.

2. Bark-free Ash with a minimum of 50 sq. cm on any one piece.

3. Drying period of 14 days, including air dry time.

4. Dry bulb temperature of 160 F for 20 hours.

5. Each pack must have a KD Clip and the number recorded on the KD Certificate.

6. KD Certificate and PHYTO for each shipment.

7. Each pack marked with KD – HT.

8. Each pack must be 10% MC or Less, tested with a moisture meter and recorded for auditor.

9. Currently, an APHIS representative will need to inspect shipments prior to obtaining a PHYTO.

Program Fees

KD Certification Program fees are as follows and include audit charges:

NHLA Member: $520 per month or $500/month if billed annually. Non-NHLA Member: $670 per month

Additional Costs

Postage for sending Certificates and ID Tags

ID Tags (Currently at $11.00 per hundred)
Certificate Paper (Currently at $11.00 per hundred sheets)


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