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Thread: Taking a mando out of the country

  1. #1

    Default Taking a mando out of the country

    I'm going on an international trip & wanted to take a mandolin with me(out of the US, to Ireland & the UK). The CITES regulations got me worried, so i called Elderly Instruments & a very knowledgeable & helpful person there talked to me about the CITES minefield. I had thought that instruments made before a certain date were exempt from CITES regulations, but that is no longer the case. I also thought that only Brazilian rosewood was embargoed, but because it's hard to distinguish between Brazilian and other rosewoods, all rosewoods are embargoed, as is anything with ivory in it (think nuts in older instruments). She also told me the regulations are constantly changing. The only way around any of the regs is to get a 'passport' for each instrument you take out of the country, (from the US Fish & Wildlife Service if you're in the US), and because of time constraints (she said it would take at least 6 weeks), I bought a cheapo mando and crossed my fingers that the store that sold it to me didn't sell me something with rosewood in it, so I can offload it when I get back.

    I'd be interested in other folks' experiences with regard to this minefield.

  2. #2
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012

    Default Re: Taking a mando out of the country

    If new, even on el cheapos, it is very possible that your fingerboard and bridge, and possibly your peghead overlay, are rosewood painted black. Older instruments might have ebony instead, which may also be embargoed by the time you travel. Keep the receipt handy, print out the specs so you have them with you, and be prepared to give it up at one border or another.

    In today's environment, having a cheap instrument for traveling is the only way to go. Good luck!
    -- Don

    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."

    Gibson F-9
    2016 "$199.00 solid F style" MKLFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug
    (plus a large assortment of banjos, dobros, guitars, basses and other noisemakers)

  3. #3
    Pittsburgh Bill
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: Taking a mando out of the country

    I have taken a mandolin to Europe several times with no problems. I do carry a copy of CITES regs for the over zealous customs officer, but as of yet not encountered one for that reason. You are more likely to find a US storm trooper customs agent on your return to the US convinced that because you are a musician you are carrying illegal narcotics. I have found most European customs agents to be much more congenial than US agents.
    Do be aware of airline regs. regarding carry-ons. Airlines tend to be my biggest worry.
    Good luck
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Collings MT
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Kentucky KM-950

  4. #4
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Pacific Northwest, USA

    Default Re: Taking a mando out of the country

    This isn't personal experience, so take it with a grain of salt, IANAL, etc. It's based on discussions I've followed in other forums, mainly Chiff & Fipple where this is now an issue for Blackwood (Grenadilla) flutes.

    My understanding is that as long as you don't have CITES Appendix I material on your instrument (Brazilian rosewood, ivory, etc), and if you're carrying an instrument for personal use only, then you shouldn't have any problems moving through customs in either direction.

    The key issue here is that "personal transport" is allowed for newly listed CITES II materials like rosewood. It's the sale of musical instruments and shipment across borders that now requires a permit for rosewood and some other newly listed CITES II items. You don't have to get any special permits unless you're transporting something for sale.

    That's the theory anyway. Unless you hit a customs inspector having a bad day, you should be fine.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Taking a mando out of the country

    Thanks for the quick replies, fellas. Because i just bought the cheapo mando, I've still got the receipt, so can prove it's mine and where I bought it. International travel, particularly with an instrument, isn't as easy as it used to be, but even in my youth I've had a) a resophonic guitar lost by an airline (Athens) and b) an electric guitar impounded (London), so you maybe can see why I'm wary. I've carried a mandolin and tenor banjo across borders in the past without problems though, so I'm reasonably confident I'll be OK this time.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Glover, Vermont

    Default Re: Taking a mando out of the country

    We're just back from our third trip to Ireland via Aer Lingus. We have had no problem carrying instruments as carry-ons. Neither have we had problems with customs coming or going. (Fiddle, Mandolin and Guitar.) The key certainly seems to be what folded path (post #4) mentions: "personal transport. We shared your concerns before we started going to Ireland regularly ... but they ended up unfounded.
    Go and Enjoy!
    mandolin ~ guitar ~ banjo

    "I'm convinced that playing well is not so much a technique as it is a decision. It's a commitment to do the work, strive for concentration, get strategic about advancing by steps, and push patiently forward toward the goal." Dan Crary

  7. #7
    Mandolin tragic Graham McDonald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Canberra, Australia

    Default Re: Taking a mando out of the country

    With one personal instrument it should not be a problem. In a padded gig bag, over your shoulder, it is highly unlikely it will be even looked at. As pointed out above the CITIES regs have been modified to allow the transportation of personal property. I was in and out of the US last month with a mandolin carried that way with no difficulties at all. Sometimes a little negotiation about room in the overhead bins on the plane is needed, but that has always worked out as well.

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