Passports for Guitars



  • Joli GadjoJoli Gadjo Cardiff, UK✭✭✭✭ Derecho, Bumgarner - VSOP, AJL
    Posts: 542
    Learned a lot today about Lacey and Cites...

    Here's an interesting article about all of this:’s-guide-cites-conservation-treaty
    - JG
  • Hmmm..this is scary indeed.

    I am hoping to go to Django in June but if I daren't risk taking a guitar....what would be the point?

    I woUld appreciate hearing how you make out on guitar passport
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Craig BumgarnerCraig Bumgarner Drayden, MarylandVirtuoso Bumgarner S/N 001
    Posts: 795
    Here is another article, specifically about guitar passports. The way I read it is the passport provision was passed on March 13th and will take approximately 90 days to implement, so no passports until mid June at the earliest. It also reads like it might be harder to get a passport for a modern instrument than a vintage instrument. It seems there is an understanding that old instruments may not have full documentation and there will be a willingness to except it is pre-CITES just because it looks genuinely old. A modern instrument containing CITES restricted material, on the other hand, will likely need a full legal paper trail back to standing tree to get a passport, as it does now to cross boarders without the passport ... -provision

    I hope one will also be able to get a passport for a guitar that does NOT contain CITES restricted material, but just looks like it. Relying on all customs agents to properly identify woods and shells every time is nerve wracking. A passport would relieve the anxiety of taking an expensive guitar across borders EVEN if it is endangered species free.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320
    What genious thought this mess up? Jeez!
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471
    This is a serious drag. My family and I plan to do an extended stay (if not outright move) from the US to Europe sometime over the next two years. I can't even begin to fathom this. Talk about "chilling effect" on international movement. I'm going to risk my beautiful Rodrigo Shopis being seized, irrevocably? Riiiiiiiiiight.

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • Craig BumgarnerCraig Bumgarner Drayden, MarylandVirtuoso Bumgarner S/N 001
    Posts: 795
    Reduction of risk is the point of the passport for musical instruments, to take the uncertainty out of the process. This initiative is being hailed by lots of musicians and groups representing musicians as a real step forward. The passport, if it works as intended, will be a single universal document to facilitate passing through borders with instruments. Now if you have undocumented Brazilian rosewood, ivory, Hawksbill turtle shell, in a guitar built last year, you are probably not going to get a passport, but that wasn't supposed to happen anyway. If the guitar is legit, you should be able to get a passport and it will hopefully clear up a lot of the anxiety at the customs desk.

    As the original draft proposal was drawn up by the US Fish & Wildlife Service, who enforces the LACEY Act, it would seem the passport will also ease compliance with LACEY as well. Again, I hope one will be able to get a passport even if a guitar contains no CITES I materials so as to make it easy to prove.
  • Posts: 4,784
    Came across the article that talks about even tighter CITES regulations enforced last year:
    A couple of interesting bullet points from it:
    -Martin's logistics staff estimates they spend 40 percent of their time dealing with new regulations.
    - months after regulations were adopted, the US acoustic guitar export fell 28 percent, electrics 23 percent
    - Martin says they have orders, they have customers, customers are ready to pay but Martin can not ship the guitars because the paperwork is stuck somewhere
    - guitar makers are lobbying for getting musical instruments exempt from the regulations and CITES officials are willing to discuss that in 2019.
    - because, Martin argues, besides highlighting sustainability efforts on a part of guitar makers as a whole, they use 50 cubic meters of rosewood a year compared to 2,000,000,000 cubic meters Chinese furniture makers use.
    - Martin stopped using rosewood on US built models below $3,000 and Taylor said they lost tens of thousands of dollars last year because of paperwork delays and complications to ship guitars overseas.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320
    What a nightmare. No common sense.
  • ronzo4600ronzo4600 PNWNew Eimer's, Lebreton & Selmer
    edited April 2018 Posts: 44
    Interesting thread and I was just poo pooed about this very subject last week. As numerous woods were added to the list as Appendix II, I feel it's imperative to have some sort of document when traveling with your instrument.

    In 20 years of flying around with Brazillian Rosewood, I've had two guitars seized in the US and one in Europe. The European incident involved theft of my Han'che Weiss Favino by an Air France baggage handler and then was seized by authorities for some obscure reason involving treaty woods. It took a trip to the Embassy, and four days of hassle and cash to get it back. The U.S. events were quickly resolved with a few minutes of conversation and CBP form 4457.

    There are two documents available to a U.S. citizen to protect yourselves from traveling with CITES products in/on your instrument. Firstly CBP form 4457 "Certificate Of Registration For Personal Effects Taken Abroad" is a must have. Simply fill out the form on your computer, print and take to the closest CBP office for visual inspection and the "rubber stamp". If I have the CITES number available I will include it in the description of the instrument as well.

    Every guitar I own has this document completed, the instrument inspected by a CBP officer and stamped and safely stored in my wallet.

    I have been asked several times upon entry to the U.S. by duly authorized CBP, Fish and Wildlife or Agricultural inspectors to inspect an instrument. As soon as that case is opened, I produce form 4457 and all is good, along with a welcome home and have a nice day statement from the inspector.

    Secondly the U.S. has had an instrument passport available for several years and if you're willing to go through the hoops, it's handy when you get a trainee inspector or worse, an ESL inspector. The instrument passport prevents ALL problems!

    We all know what it's like when common sense flies out the window and the "book or words" takes precedence over everything. It's not fun, and anything less than humble or polite is going to get your instrument taken away. I've actually had an inspector in Seattle tell me that he was my new best friend and to watch my mouth or I'd lose the guitar.

    So while the rules and regulations can be stiffling or worse, do yourselves a favor, spend an hour or so filling out the form, seeking out a CBP officer and having the darned thing stamped. It will save you time, energy and a giant hassle if you are unlucky enough to have your instrument questioned.

    Here is the link to the 4457 form: Form 4457_0.pdf

    Here is the link to the passport form:

    Hope this helps some of you. Traveling with an instrument can be challenging or worse and it's become something of an art form for me. I try to make it as easy as I can.

    Lastly, for those of you who have been denied boarding with your instrument or forced to check it, here is the official ruling:
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320
    Wow, thanks Ronzo!
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