Last Thursday, May 15, 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced changes intended to ease international travel with musical instruments under the new enforcement of the ban on bringing African ivory into the States. The recent policy decree banning the importation of African ivory caused great unintended consequences for traveling musicians whose instruments contain small ivory parts, such as bow tips. (For details on the original executive order regarding ivory, read my interview with Heather Noonan from April 30.) In direct response to urgent appeals from the American Federation of Musicians, the League of American Orchestras and other organizations representing musicians, the USFWS revised their policy to include “common-sense” solutions.
The new policy permits travel with instruments purchased prior to February 25, 2014, instead of the original date of February 26, 1976. While this will ease travel for many musicians, problems still exist for many traveling musicians:
- It is unclear what documents will suffice to prove that an instrument was purchased before February 25, 2014.
- Any instruments containing ivory, purchased after that date, will not be permitted into the US.
- There is no reliable system in place for obtaining the necessary CITES permits, so travel is still risky for musicians with these instruments.
- The ban may be extended to interstate domestic sales.
For more information about the update on the ivory ban, read the complete report from the League.