How does the Ivory Act affect travelling musicians?
The 2018 Ivory Act has finally come into force, prohibiting commercial activity in elephant ivory, including imports and exports of ivory items. Although the act is a near-complete ban, musicians are relatively unaffected as there is an exemption for pre-1975 musical instruments and their accessories containing less than 20% ivory by volume, thanks to lobbying by the ISM and other music industry organisations. The act also does not apply to mammoth ivory, which is commonly used for bow tips.
You do need to have a Musical Instrument Certificate (MIC) before travelling with an exempted item. An MIC is currently free and lasts for three years, and you must have it stamped by customs when entering and exiting the EU. To apply for an MIC, visit the DEFRA website. You can also follow our guide to whether you need an MIC and how to apply for one.
For those planning to sell exempted ivory items, there is now a digital application process, which was launched on 24 February. The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) is responsible for checking registrations and applications for their compliance with the Ivory Act. If you plan to buy or hire an instrument or bow containing ivory, be aware that you (as well as the seller) are responsible for checking that it is exempt from the Ivory Act.