CITES for Dummies!


Here’s some excellent first-hand advice and guidance from Doug Chandler of Guitar XS…

We are lucky to be part of “the industry of human happiness”, where challenging rules and stereotypes are often part and parcel of the process of creating great music and, being musicians at heart, it’s a frame of mind many of us carry through into our business lives.

However, in applying for the necessary CITES permits to import musical instruments containing Rosewood you will be dealing with public employees who often have a very different outlook on life, where the correctly ticked box and the correctly crossed “T” are paramount, and where correctly completed paperwork is the only thing that will result in your application’s forward movement.

Trouble-free import of musical instruments containing Rosewood is therefore like many of life’s little challenges: to ensure a successful outcome you need first to understand a few basic rules, and then follow them closely……

The first rule to remember is that every item that’s listed on CITES Appendix 2, (aka Annex B in the EU), and that is traded across National borders has to show a paper trail of Export, Import and/or Re-Export Permits from source to end-user.

By importing or exporting items listed on Annex B you become part of that paper trail.

So, the first thing you need to do is satisfy yourself that your overseas supplier has already obtained a legitimate Export Permit for the instruments he/she plans to send to you. If your supplier is in the USA, for example, they should provide you with a stamped Export Permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the US Government Department responsible for CITES.

One of the key indicators you need to look for on any Permit is the CITES “Elephant” logo. If it isn’t on the Export or Re-Export Permit that accompanies any shipment from your supplier, it probably isn’t a valid CITES Permit. If in doubt check with DEFRA.

Next, you need to download form FED 0172, the universal form you must complete and submit to DEFRA whenever you plan to import an instrument containing Appendix 2 Rosewood into the EU, or export or re-export one to a non-EU country. Download it at:  

For the remaining time we are in the EU you can use any Import Permit issued by DEFRA to export to another EU country without the need for additional Permits.

What will happen when we leave the EU and the Customs Union nobody knows at this point in time. In theory we will then need Re-Export Permits to sell into Europe, and our European customers will need to use these to apply for their own Import Permits to import from us. Plenty of fun ahead…

In the meantime here’s a quick guide to completing Form FED0172, assuming you want to import some guitars containing Indian Rosewood. I have now completed many applications for Import and Re-Export Permits successfully using the information below, but if you are in any doubt about any of the questions call DEFRA for clarification:

Box 1: Your supplier’s name and address.

Box 2: The nature of the Permit application, in this case “Import”.

Box 3: Your name and address.

Box 4: Your supplier’s country.

Box 5: Your country.

Box 6: Not applicable.

Box 7: UK CITES, Bristol address.

Box 8: Enter “WPR”, (the code for processed wood products), followed by the number of items on the shipment, the type of wood (“Dalbergia Latifolia” in this case), and the approximate year of manufacture. Also enter the following in the (more than likely) event you are unable to obtain documentary proof of the origin and date of harvest of the wood your supplier is using:

“Pre-convention (O), source unknown (U)”.

Box 9: Not essential but enter it if you know it. (If your supplier is in the US their Export Permit from USFWS will already contain this information).

Box 10: Enter the number of items you want covered by the Permit.

Box 11: Enter “2.0”, the CITES Appendix number.

Box 12: Enter “B”, the equivalent EU Annex letter.

Box 13: Enter letter “O” (For Pre-Convention). See Box 8 above.

Box 14: Enter letter “T” (for Trade).

Box 15: Leave blank.

Box 16: Leave blank.

Box 17: Leave blank.

Box 18: Enter your supplier’s country.

Box 19: Enter your supplier’s Export Permit number.

Box 20: Enter the date of issue of your supplier’s Export Permit.

Box 21: Enter the scientific name, in this case “Dalbergia     Latifolia”.

Box 22: Enter the common name, in this case “Indian Rosewood”.

Box 23: You can sign, date and snail-mail the completed form, or you can email it. If you email the form you must enter the following wording in Box 23:

“I, (your name), am the owner of this email account, I am also the applicant. My email address is (your email address). Please accept this as my electronic signature”.

The next important rule to remember is that no Permit is valid unless it contains a Customs stamp applied at the point of exit from the country in which the Permit was issued.

This can be problematic if you need to Re-Export your instrument containing Rosewood to a non-EU country, for example Switzerland. The freight forwarding industry is very sophisticated and works closely with world-wide Customs authorities to ensure goods move rapidly from one market to another. In the UK and most of Europe the computerized systems in play examine goods predominantly at Import into a particular country, not when they leave it. Consequently, few freight forwarders can accommodate a request to submit a Permit to Customs for stamping at the point of export. Check with your forwarder that they can do this for you before you release the goods.

You must ensure this happens, or your Permits will be invalid.

Finally, here are some key words you need to understand:

“CITES”, the “Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species” of flora and fauna, is a Non-Governmental Organisation subscribed to by 182 Nations, who agree to be bound by its rulings. However, individual countries have considerable freedom to decide the “nuts and bolts” of how the rulings are implemented. So, Import and Export Permits can and do differ in appearance from country to country.

“Appendix 2”. A CITES list of various flora and fauna, trade in which must be controlled in order to ensure their survival. All Rosewood (Dalbergia) species with the exception of Brazilian (Dalbergia Nigra) are on Appendix 2. (Brazilian is on Appendix 1, meaning it is “threatened with extinction” and trade is severely restricted).

“Annex B”. The European Union list that broadly equates to CITES’ Appendix 2, with some additions. These include Madagascar Rosewood, import of which is subject to a separate EU restriction. While we remain members of the European Union all CITES Permits issued by DEFRA in the UK are EU Permits and are valid in any European Union member country.

“DEFRA”, Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs”, the UK’s “Management Authority” for CITES, and the one you will have direct contact with whenever you make a Permit application. In my experience the folks at DEFRA are helpful and knowledgeable regarding CITES issues, don’t hesitate to call them with queries surrounding completion of your Form FED0172, the number is 0117 372 3700.