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Moving Ivory And Pianos With Ivory Keys To The UK

The Border Force in the UK are currently ensuring that EU Regulation 338/97 and its accompanying amendments are being complied with, by paying very close attention to any ivory (particularly pianos with ivory keys) being imported into the EU and we ask that you follow and read these guidance notes so as to avoid problems.

Modern pianos with plastic/man-made keys
Importation of modern pianos without Ivory keys are permitted once any taxes have been paid, but the Border Force may want to physically inspect shipments in order to verify what material the keys are actually made from.
We recommend that your client prepares a statement addressed to the Border Force stating:
“My piano is a modern instrument (insert manufacturer name & model number if known) with man-made keys and no ivory content. The piano was made in (date) and/or I have owned the piano since (date)“
Then sign & date this statement.
The piano does not have to be declared on the UK C3 customs form unless it meets other requirements such as being of very high value and/or a new purchase.

Pre-and post-1947 ivory items including pianos with ivory keys
Guidance on moving Personal Effects and Household Goods into and out of the EU can be found here: see pages 73 to 80 inclusive.

Non-EU Residents
Importation of pianos with ivory keys, by persons normally taking up residence in the EU are permitted but:
(a) The client must obtain a CITES (re-)export permit from the country that they are exporting the piano from if that country requires that such a permit be issued, subject to national legislation, prior to packing & shipment

EU Residents
Importation of pianos with ivory keys into the EU for the first time, by persons normally residing in the EU are permitted but:
(a) The client must obtain a CITES (re-)export permit from the country that they are exporting the piano from, prior to packing & shipment
(b) The client must obtain a UK CITES Import permit, prior to packing & shipment

Re-Introduction of pianos with ivory keys into the EU, by persons normally residing in the EU are permitted but:
(a) The client must present one of the following to Border Force at the point of re-introduction:
A Customs-endorsed “copy for the holder”of a previously used EU CITES Import or Export permit; or
The copy of the CITES (re-)export document previously presented upon first introduction into the EU;
Proof that the Ivory/Piano with Ivory keys were acquired within the EU.

EU and Non-EU Residents
The client must declare these items on Page 3. of the UK C3 form in the bottom section ‘Prohibited and Restricted Goods’.
Please note that there is a high probability that the Border Force will inspect the shipment at the port under their control and substantial inspection/container demurrage/dock rent charges will accrue which will be for your client’s account.
Also, CITES permits cannot usually be applied for retrospectively and if pre- and post-1947 ivory items/piano keys arrive in the UK without the appropriate CITES documentation, the Border Force will take seizure action and may ultimately dispose of the piano along with the Ivory attached thereto.
Finally, please note that shipping pianos between relatives and/or to companies for restoration purposes will generally be treated as commercial transactions and CITES Import and (Re-) export permits will be required.
To download the documents by pdf, please click here.

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