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Thread: CITES and rosewood

  1. #1
    Registered User HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default CITES and rosewood

    I know of an individual in Canada with a mandolin he might be willing to part with. I suspect that if I were to travel to visit him (I live in the USA), I could well be tempted to buy said mandolin.

    Here's the problem. The headstock veneer might be rosewood. While doing some research on the internet, I am seeing some real horror stories about trying to bring something that might or might not contain a fraction of an ounce of rosewood into the USA.

    What would be involved with bringing that mandolin home with me, legally?
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    My thoughts. If there is a way to get in touch with the luthier, you might find out if it is or is not the restricted rosewood. and if not, get a signed note to that effect. If it is rosewood, you should get the date it was made. If the mandolin predates that particular CITES regulation (and the luthier can attest to it on that piece of paper) I think you are legal. Doesn't mean you won't get hassled, but the paper might help.

    If the date it was made is after the CITES law, my understanding is you can't bring it into the country.

    Of course: never ever take legal advice from someone on the internet. Never. From me or anyone.
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    Phoenix Mandolins Jenny's Avatar
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    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    Here is a recent article about the new CITES regulations.

    https://reverb.com/news/new-cites-re...sewood-species
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    Well just ignore everything I said above. The reverb article linked above pretty much covers what you, or the seller, may need to do.
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    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    Thank you, Jenny. Glad to see this exception, though I'm not sure if it would help in Hank's situation:

    "It does not apply to ... instruments carried for personal use while traveling internationally [unless they contain more than 22 lbs. (10 kg) of the regulated woods]."

  7. #6
    Registered User HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    The way it looks to me so far: if it is NOT rosewood, no special paperwork, hassles, etc, are required, but the practicality boils down to one customs office's ability to look at the headstock and determine what is and what is not rosewood based on a photo of the back of a classical guitar in the office's manual. Very risky. If they think it looks like rosewood, it will be seized. Even if I have paperwork from the maker saying it isn't. So my best bet may be to very truthfully say "nothing to declare" and sail through (the mandolin in question was made in the USA so, no duties for reimportation). But if I am stopped and the inspector thinks he sees rosewood, my new mandolin is gone.

    If the headstock veneer actually is rosewood, my friend in Canada would technically be an exporter and thus required to obtain a certificate from the relevant Canadian govt agency stating that this particular mandolin qualifies for an exemption from the CITES regulations (which it does). A call to a Canadian music store about this was interesting -- yes they have made sales to the US this year, yes they have tried to get the necessary certificates, but no, they are still waiting and have no idea when they will be issued.

    That's what I have so far after filtering out what looked to be a few angry reactions to the regs or official declarations like "no problem, just get the certificate and you're good to go." (which is technically true).

    Yeah, I know, I could just put on a poker face at customs and say 'nothing to declare' and probably sail right through. But I don't want to do that.

    I guess what I am hoping for (but the hope has faded a lot) is that someone here has been through all this and has found a way to cut the red tape and just get it done.
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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    This seems a little extreme. I've not travelled outside the US with any instrument recently, but there are so many varieties and species of rosewood from so many locations around the world...is someone implying it is all banned? I just bought a nice chunk of East Indian Rosewood from a reputable local wood supplier for making arm rests and pickguards.

    Edit - I read the reverb article and it does say indeed that all species of tonewood are subject to the rule. There is a pretty free flow of musicians and instruments across the US-Canada border here in WA. I play with many BC musicians at Wintergrass. How much of an issue is this for you folks in each country? Are the customs folks ok with the small amount of RW in most instruments? Do you have paper for all your instruments? What about vintage instruments?

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    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    If the rosewood is not Brazilian Rosewood and the mandolin is your personal instrument then there is no problem, no paperwork is required. Personal instruments are exempt, Brazilian Rosewood is not because it is on CITES Appendix I. There has been a LOT of unnecessary panic about Rosewood on the guitar forums so I would not take any notice of that. Indian Rosewood is used a lot on guitars and just everyone seems to have hit the panic button unnecessarily. Indian Rosewood and all the other rosewoods except Brazilian are on Appendix II. The situation of Brazilian Rosewood has not changed, you need CITES paperwork even if it is your personal instrument. Dealers, Luthiers and wood suppliers are about the only people affected by the listing of Rosewoods on Appendix II.

    If the date it was made is after the CITES law, my understanding is you can't bring it into the country.
    Not correct if not Brazilian Rosewood.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    Quote Originally Posted by peter.coombe View Post
    Not correct if not Brazilian Rosewood.
    I am confused. According to the article sited above:

    While Brazilian Rosewood is currently under CITES protection (those laws will stay in place), this move places all the other nearly 300 species of rosewood under similar regulation.
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    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    So I'm a student of environmental science and policy at my university in Boston and I've studied the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species a lot. (More to satisfy my intense love of birds and bird conservation, but that's another story. Any bird nerds feel free to meet me over on eBird. ) There are only a couple of species of "rosewood" that are protected under the Convention: Aniba rosaeodora (Brazilian Rosewood), Dalbergia stevensonii (Honduran rosewood), and a couple other rosewood trees in genus Dalbergia that are not used in instrument construction as far as I know. The Brazilian and Honduran are in appendices I and II respectively. Dalbergia latifolia -- better known to us pickers as East Indian rosewood -- is not protected under the convention, although it is rated as "vulnerable" by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), meaning that while its conservation is important, its transboundary trade is not prohibited.

    And really what it breaks down to are sales and trade. Most of the time, even with an Appendix I wood like Brazilian on an instrument, nothing's gonna happen crossing a border. Customs agents in my personal experience and from what I've heard from far more frequent fliers with far more expensive instruments is that customs agents are generally not the type to be picky with that sort of thing. Watch out if you've got lyrebird feathers in your hat though.

    For more information about what trees (and other critters) are protected by CITES, check out their database of protected species and other resources on their website here.
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    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    Quote Originally Posted by dchernack View Post
    Dalbergia latifolia -- better known to us pickers as East Indian rosewood -- is not protected under the convention, although it is rated as "vulnerable" by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), meaning that while its conservation is important, its transboundary trade is not prohibited.
    Actually... the recent changes do include D. latifolia:

    "1. What changes to rosewood protections under CITES have been made?
    At the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP17), held in September/October 2016, the entire genus Dalbergia spp. (except for Brazilian rosewood (Dalbergia nigra), which is listed in Appendix I), the three bubinga species of Guibourtia demeusei, Guibourtia pellegriniana, and Guibourtia tessmannii, and kosso (also called African rosewood) (Pterocarpus erinaceus) were listed in Appendix II.The listing of the Dalbergia genus means that all species of Dalbergia are now included in the CITES Appendices. The listings became effective on January 2, 2017"
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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    From the Reverb article - " While Brazilian Rosewood is currently under CITES protection (those laws will stay in place), this move places all the other nearly 300 species of rosewood under similar regulation." If that's really the situation,then there are no exemptions to the rule.

    If a seller wishes to sell an instrument ''outside the borders of their home country'',then it's up to them to obtain the required permissions & paperwork to allow them to do so - IMO.

    Quote :- "customs agents are generally not the type to be picky with that sort of thing." ..If customs agents are being instructed to monitor these woods,then don't be surprised if they pick up on it. It's a bit like taking an instrument on board an aircraft,you might get away with it,but you might not,
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    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    Thanks for the correction! I wasn't aware that the recent Conference of the Parties had changed the rule to include the rest of the genus.
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    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    HonketyHank: As Peter Coombe has said, if you are travelling with the mandolin in person, then there is an exception for a single personal possession containing CITES listed material. As long as it's a single item (no tortoiseshell pick in your pocket!) then you should be fine. The only caveat, is that this hasn't been worked out yet - which is to say CITES have published their recommendations, but each member country then has to decide how to implement them. For the sake of completeness, I should mention that 2 countries - Russia and Japan - do not recognise exceptions for personal items.

    Also note that popping it in the post as part of a commercial transaction certainly would be a problem.

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    Yep, it's all rosewood now.

    I've heard that Fender is no longer making guitars with rosewood fingerboards. They could still ship overseas with permits, but this removes that extra overhead and keeps costs down. I guess they thought it wasn't worth the hassle to continue with rosewood just for the domestic market on the USA-made models. I'll bet most other high-volume guitar makers will follow.

    Also, it's not just rosewood. African Blackwood (Grenadilla) was included in the new CITES II regs, which affects everyone making clarinets, flutes, wooden whistles, and bagpipe chanters and regulators.

    I have a Blackwood "Irish flute" made in Canada, purchased here in the USA. I'm not sure if I'd have to file paperwork and fees now, if I ever had to send it back for repair work or adjustment. I'm also wondering if it's safe to carry on a trip to Ireland or Scotland in the near future, under the "personal use" ruling for CITES II. The thing about CITES is that it's just a "floor" for the countries that have signed on to it, and individual countries are free to add their own additional restrictions.

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    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    Something else that occurs to me.... should you wish to apply for an instrument passport in future, it would be helpful to be able to prove that it was made pre-ban. Makers name and date on the label might be enough. Also note that at present, countries do not officially recognise each others instrument passports - for example the I happen to know that the US does not yet recognise EU issued instrument passports. I'm assuming that this is a matter of recognition, given that this is all so new...

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    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    Sending a flute for repair would be a problem if you need to pay for the repair because then it is a "commercial" transaction. All commercial transactions need CITES paperwork. However, if you carry it across the international border yourself then it is exempt.
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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    Quote Originally Posted by peter.coombe View Post
    Sending a flute for repair would be a problem if you need to pay for the repair because then it is a "commercial" transaction. All commercial transactions need CITES paperwork. However, if you carry it across the international border yourself then it is exempt.
    I've been following the adventures of local flutemaker Casey Burns on the Chiff & Fipple forum, who has been in contact with the authorities about doing business (he makes blackwood flutes, among other woods). I just noticed he posted the following in this C&F thread -- "if the instrument is being sent for repairs that is not considered a commercial transaction (sale) and the instrument is exempt. If the instrument is being hand carried as a personal item it is also exempt."

    So, pending verification, it looks like repair shipments across borders won't be affected. I guess it's seen as a "service" and not a sale?

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    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    The problem with "commercial" is that different countries have different definitions of what a "commercial" transaction is, so the answer to the question about repairs may be different for different countries so you do need to do your research. CITES does not define "commercial". What I have been told for the USA is that if one party in the transaction is carrying on a business and money changes hands then it is a "commercial" transaction. If you are a professional flute maker or mandolin maker then you are carrying on a business so a repair that involves a charge is a commercial transaction. Seems logical to me, but there is some conflicting information about that. According to CITES rules, only the sending country needs a permit for rosewood, but it looks like some countries require import permits as well. Unfortunately it is not simple, and the authorities don't always give you the right answer. Best thing is to avoid rosewood species or carry the instrument across international borders yourself.
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    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    I too have my doubts about repairs - as far as customs and import duties are concerned, they will charge duties on the cost of the repair (ie the commercial transaction), not the value of the instrument. So at least one arm of the state views this as "commerce" under international law....

  26. #21

    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    Purely as an observation, I'll note that some people, myself included, have successfully used vinyl labels and skins on musical instruments. I've used them to fancy up a fretboard, and some have used them unify the appearances of their instrument bodies and headstocks.

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    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    "Also, it's not just rosewood. African Blackwood (Grenadilla) was included in the new CITES II regs, which affects everyone making clarinets, flutes, wooden whistles, and bagpipe chanters and regulators. "

    Yup. In addition to things actually called Rosewood, African Blackwood, Cocobolo, Kingwood and Tulipwood are all Dalbergias and prohibited. I have a stock of some of those woods that I've had for a very long time, but I don't have the documentation proving when I received them, so I won't ship whistles of those woods out of the US.
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    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    Over the past year and 6 months, I have had to work in Kuwait on a project. This afforded the chance to visit Europe for my wife and I (she stayed stateside and worked). We have been to Italy, Germany, Austria and Ireland. For work visa, I had to also travel to Dubai and the Bahrain. For each trip, I took my mandolin. I was not asked once what woods were used on my mandolin. In fact, they never even took it out of the case and just ran it through the x-ray machine (with the case still latched tight). Now, this was my experience and my mandolin does not have any rosewood.

    Funny story, I was going through Frankfurt Airport traveling back stateside for the holidays last year. The security did not question anything on me or mandolin case. However, they were very skeptical regarding a piece of galena (lead sulphide mineral).
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  29. #24

    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    Aside from what I just read here, I know nothing about contraband rosewood. What I do know is that the last time I drove into Canada, my wife and I (a pair of very straight-looking sixty-somethings) were kept in the customs office and asked dozens of questions while two officers outside combed through every inch of our car.

    They looked into everything they could get at without a screwdriver or socket wrench - emptied the glove compartment and console and the little bags inside our backpacks where we had our soap and shampoo and toothbrushes and whatnot. We had some presents we were taking to my stepdaughter, and they had lots of questions about those.

    It probably didn't help that my wife's French is minimal and mine is nonexistent. It took about forty-five minutes.

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    Default Re: CITES and rosewood

    I recall reading somewhere on a guitar site about a guitar being shipped to Martin for repairs, and Martin not being able to ship it back due to not being able to get the permits due to rosewood. Don't know it that ever got resolved.

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