Rosewood, Ivory and Nickel update


Paul McManus here with an important update for you!

I attended the course that we had organised for the industry at DEFRA in Bristol last week and it was great to have BBICO, Stentor, Andertons, Auden Guitars, Robert Morley Pianos and Pure Acoustic there with me to quiz and question the authorities!

Here are a few pointers that may be of help…………….

  • We had a full debate with our hosts about the lack of consistency some parts of the checking procedure were taking with various bits of paperwork our industry was submitting in bringing Rosewood into the UK
  • This was accepted and APHA/CITES/DEFRA agreed this had to improve at their end
  • 5 more Case Officers are being recruited to help with the 47,000 licenses they are dealing with each year! (not all for MI!!)
  • The 10kg exemption for non-commercial movement of Rosewood instruments SHOULD be accepted in all 183 Countries that are signed up to CITES. Not as reassuring as we would like…..
  • There is an urgent need for the authorities to recommend appropriate companies that can test materials on our behalf to identify the species. We made the point to the meeting that we are sometimes working “blind” with older instruments in trying to identify what they are made of and if it is a protected species
  • A full debate took place about the total lack of paperwork that will occur with older instruments where there is no way to prove age or sourcing of materials
  • The authorities accepted that the ”word” of the owner/seller had to be accepted in cases such as this (the legal word is provenance) and that any declaration that can be made about the instrument becomes legally binding as being the truth
  • There is a 15 day lead time in processing license applications and this naturally means that an urgent order for an instrument from abroad is now unable to take place
  • Indeed, getting the export and import license can equate to a month in lead time
  • The authorities were at pains to stress that if a delivery arrives at the UK with an export licence but NO import licence……the delivery may be impounded
  • A bonded warehouse does not get round the issue
  • If you don’t order the import licence until the delivery is on the seas, you take the risk of not having the import licence in time for when the delivery arrives!
  • We got into an interesting debate about instruments being exempt if donated and no cash involved……..
  • 1947 and before that date are still exempt and classed as antique….as long as you can prove it!


The meeting to present the case to Parliament for an exemption of musical instruments has (naturally) been postponed until after the Election. The Coalition of MIA/MU and ABO will obviously press for an early date to make our presentation. In the meantime, the whole Ivory “ban” is also on hold until after the Election.


Many thanks to Rotosound/PRS Guitars/Denis Wick and BBICO for all their guidance on how we tackle the proposed restrictions on nickel and nickel compounds. I am speaking to the authorities as I write and will update you on next steps on behalf of the industry……