Instruments and bows containing small amounts of ivory purchased before February 2014 can now be transported into the US


Changes to US ivory import rules have been announced by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, intended to ease international travel with musical instruments. Earlier this year, new regulations were introduced by the Obama Administration, intended to protect African elephants by combating illegal trade in ivory.

The result was that any instrument purchased since February 26, 1976 that contained African elephant ivory – including ivory-tipped bows – would be prohibited from entering the US. The rules did not make allowances for vintage instruments which were legally manufactured years before the ivory ban.

Under new amended regulations, a musical instrument that contains African elephant ivory may now be brought into the US if the ivory was legally acquired prior to February 26, 1976; the instrument has not been bought or sold since February 25, 2014; and the musical instrument qualifies for and is accompanied by a valid CITES certificate.

While a step forward for musicians, the rules still prohibit the entry of antique instruments and bows containing ivory purchased after February 25, 2014. There are also proposals from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to ban future domestic interstate sale and re-sale of legally-made instruments containing ivory.

The League of American Orchestras is continuing to hold discussions with the Obama Administration which an aim of protecting both wildlife concerns and those of travelling musicians.

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