Exporting music instruments to the USA

Got a new way of doing something? Or maybe an old method that needs some clarification.

Moderators: kiwigeo, Jeremy D

Post Reply
User avatar
peter.coombe
Blackwood
Posts: 553
Joined: Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:52 pm
Location: Bega, NSW
Contact:

Exporting music instruments to the USA

Post by peter.coombe » Sat Sep 17, 2011 3:49 pm

With all this Lacey Act stuff in the USA some of you might find this useful

Tips for exporting musical instruments to the USA

I have just send a mandola to the US and it went through US Customs without any problems so I thought I would write this up to help anyone else who is thinking of sending an instrument to the USA. Follow this procedure and all should be well. I am assuming the instrument is worth more than $2000 USD, and the customer is paying for it so it then is a “commercial” shipment to the USA.and needs to be formally cleared in the USA.
Note that this is going to take some time. Assume about 3 hrs work, but at least you won’t need to spend hours and hours reading and researching what is required which is what I had to do.

(1) First thing to do is to be careful what woods you build with. Don’t even think about anything that is CITES listed. So, Brazilian Rosewood is out. Even if only used for bindings, forgetaboutit. Also don’t use any wood from high risk countries such as Madagascar, Indonesia or Malaysia. Illegal logging is rampant in these countries and will raise the red flag. Australian native woods are good.
(2) As you build, weigh each individual piece and note down the weight. Weights don’t need to be exact, they are not interested in exact amounts for such small quantities. Weight of bone nut and shell inlay will also be required.
(3) As you get closer to finishing get your US customer to apply for a US Fisheries and Wildlife import/export permit. This is likely to take 6-9 weeks to be issued. Your customer will need to contact their local F&W office. Here is the form http://www.fws.gov/forms/3-200-3.pdf
(4) Once you have finished the instrument, fill out the forms for plant material and if there is any animal material such as a bone nut or shell inlay, also the F&W form for wildlife. Send these forms to your customer, or the information they require if you can’t save the form. You will need the scientific names of all the species, the amounts and country of harvest. You won’t be able to fill out all of the forms, leave that to your customer since it is a US form and is their responsibility.
Plants
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/ ... ndex.shtml

Wildlife
http://www.fws.gov/le/pdffiles/3-177-1.pdf
http://www.fws.gov/le/pdffiles/3-177ins ... 022011.pdf
(5) Wait for the US import permit to be issued.
(6) When you pack the instrument, make sure you include an invoice inside the package that lists all the information contained on the above forms and the US F&W import permit number.
(7) On the outside of the package attach a notice that it contains wildlife and the import permit number.
(8) The package must also have 3 copies of the Australian Customs commercial involce form attached with your letterhead on the form.
(9) Also attach a list of all the woods and wildlife, with the import permit number listed – i.e. all the information that is on the forms above. Never use common names for woods, always use the scientific names. Common names can cause confusion and problems. This is not strictly necessary if you have done (6) & (7), but it is nevertheless a good idea to do it anyway.
(10) Send the package and give your customer the tracking number, they will need it. It is highly recommended to send via a courier. A customs broker is required in the US and couriers such as DHL include that in the price, although you will choke at the shipping cost (I don’t have the bill yet). Beware – UPS charges extra for this service. If you send via Australia Post that will cause hassles in the US since your customer will need to organise a customs broker and pay the brokerage fee. The cost will work out not too far off what a courier will charge. Australia Post is also problematic for larger instruments such as guitars because of the package size restrictions. The package needs to enter the USA via a “port of entry”, so make sure it goes through LA which is a “port of entry”. DHL always goes through LA and I think the other couriers do as well so that should be ok.
(11) Wait with fingers crossed for the package to arrive safely. Inform your customer that they will need to keep all the documentation, and pass it to the new owner if they sell the instrument.
Peter Coombe - mandolin, mandola and guitar maker
http://www.petercoombe.com

jeffhigh
Blackwood
Posts: 1491
Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2008 5:50 am
Location: Caves Beach, NSW
Contact:

Re: Exporting music instruments to the USA

Post by jeffhigh » Sat Sep 17, 2011 4:37 pm

Shit!........... takes less for a tourist to enter

MattW
Myrtle
Posts: 71
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2011 9:42 pm

Re: Exporting music instruments to the USA

Post by MattW » Sat Sep 17, 2011 4:43 pm

Thanks for posting this, and doing all the legwork.

Seems ANY importer is stuck with the documentation requirement you mentioned in the last point. So presumably an importer would need to pass this documentation on to the wholesaler, then to the retail outlets, who would then need to pass it on to whoever walks into the shop and buys the instrument, or table, or pool cue, or shell inlaid jewelry box etc. It doesn't just effect musical instruments. Either the whole system must be crumbling under the weight of its own legislated requirements, or the majority of the shipments aren't being checked. The feds certainly cant be following up down the track to check if the retail chains are passing the paperwork onto the buyer. There's just not enough Feds.

I wonder sometimes if laws aren't passed just to keep these people in jobs and give them an excuse to draw a wage.
Cheers

Matt

User avatar
peter.coombe
Blackwood
Posts: 553
Joined: Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:52 pm
Location: Bega, NSW
Contact:

Re: Exporting music instruments to the USA

Post by peter.coombe » Sat Sep 17, 2011 9:57 pm

Shit!........... takes less for a tourist to enter
:lol: :lol: All too true I am afraid. I had no choice but to do the legwork. Chuck (the Duke of Pearl) has written a dissertation about this for the GAL and that was very useful, but I am very much relieved it passed through US Customs problem free.
Peter Coombe - mandolin, mandola and guitar maker
http://www.petercoombe.com

User avatar
ChuckM
Wandoo
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Sep 03, 2011 5:59 am
Location: Colorado, USA
Contact:

Re: Exporting music instruments to the USA

Post by ChuckM » Sun Sep 18, 2011 1:37 am

Excellent post. Thanks for the time frames as well. The Lacey act also applies to interstate commerce within the US. I know that a good number (most?) luthiers in the US are sitting on piles of Brazilian Rosewood they paid a lot for and wonder if it's going to be possible to sell (or even advertise) instruments made from it. The recent raid on Gibson for Indian Rosewood, which shouldn't be a problem, has spooked a lot of folks here.
Chuck Morrison

User avatar
Nick
Blackwood
Posts: 3646
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 11:20 am
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Contact:

Re: Exporting music instruments to the USA

Post by Nick » Sun Sep 18, 2011 10:27 am

This should become a sticky Peter, great information from somebody who's actually been there, done that, & passed it on for the rest of us. Cheers.
"Jesus Loves You."
Nice to hear in church but not in a Mexican prison.

User avatar
Kim
Admin
Posts: 4402
Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2007 8:32 pm
Location: South of Perth WA

Re: Exporting music instruments to the USA

Post by Kim » Sun Sep 18, 2011 10:40 am

Nick wrote:This should become a sticky Peter, great information from somebody who's actually been there, done that, & passed it on for the rest of us. Cheers.
Good idea Nick :D

Thanks for the effort Peter.. 8)

Cheers

Kim

User avatar
peter.coombe
Blackwood
Posts: 553
Joined: Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:52 pm
Location: Bega, NSW
Contact:

Re: Exporting music instruments to the USA

Post by peter.coombe » Sun Feb 05, 2012 4:11 pm

An update -

A F&W import/export permit theoretically is not required if the instrument is being sent to an individual, and is not to be re-sold in the USA. However, for this to apply it needs to be delivered to the home address of your customer, it cannot be delivered to a business adress or a work address. So, the address must correspond to the address recorded against the customers SS number. I have not tested this yet, the safe thing to do is to get a permit. I would suggest the customer contact US F&W first to confirm it is ok if they don't get the permit before going ahead without a US F&W import/export permit

Peter
Peter Coombe - mandolin, mandola and guitar maker
http://www.petercoombe.com

Bob G.
Wandoo
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 11:34 am
Location: Big Island, Hawaii, USA
Contact:

Re: Exporting music instruments to the USA

Post by Bob G. » Mon Apr 20, 2015 5:28 pm

I bring in small quantities of shell from Australia for resale to local builders here in Hawaii. Here's the way import goes in the U.S. for commercial purposes. I am required to have a U.S. Fish & Wildlife permit, which costs $100.00/yr. Each shipment I bring in, whether it is worth $1.00 or $1,000.00 costs me an import fee of $93.00. I am required to submit forms to Fish & Wildlife before the shipment arrives. They are supposed to inspect any animal or wood product as it comes through customs. Here's the good part. They never look at anything, but want me to call them when it arrives so that they can close the case file. I fully support laws governing endangered species and the need for inspection controls. However, this is another case of the government run amuck. There are lots of stories out there on the internet about luthier's having problems, but little that seems factual and not just anecdotal. I ship most of my instruments to Japan, none with any CITIES restricted materials but all have lots of shell, and at this point I just write down 1 guitar or 1 uke on the customs form. When the first government official decides to take up the CITIES banner, we're probably in trouble. The paperwork, delays, and fees will become burdensome. If they would just come up with some simple, useful guidelines, that would ease all our minds, but governments do not work that way. I think it's known as "government for the government" and not "government for the people"!As far as I know, from what I've learned shipping wood to Australia, the customs departments are much more critical of imports in your part of the world. Canada is a tough cookie too. If you can get an instrument out of Australia, I doubt that you will have problems with U.S. delivery to private customers. Let's keep each other informed of any problems that we experience. Enjoy your building! Bob www.pegasusguitars.com

kpcart
Kauri
Posts: 34
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 11:12 pm

Re: Exporting music instruments to the USA

Post by kpcart » Sun Apr 26, 2015 12:58 am

hi Peter.Coombe

this is my experience with CITES wood guitars, selling only to private addresses as a private seller, and i think you can easily no declare as commercial when you negotiate with your buyer (they will get commersial receipts over the net from you anyway). even if declared as commercial, simply do not remark where any of the wood is from... no customs in the world will stop a guitar and cut it up to determine where the wood was made from.
i have sent many guitars to america and around the world, a few with Brazillian rosewood, and have had no problems ever (various vintages). i think problems happen when people declare the instrument on export specifically as a CITES wood, ie as "Brazillian rosewood guitar". if you think about it logically - no customs in any country will stop a guitar, and go to the extend of removing the finish and DNA testing the wood to determine its origin --- but they might if it is declared on doc papers. that is why big guitar outlets now list Brazillian Rosewood instruments as CSAR (central south american rosewood) - these outlets post CITES wood guitars everyday without problem, and without CITES documentation (who in their right mind is going to seek CITES documentation for a 1995 Ramirez spruce/Brazillian for example that has gone through 4 owners).
so in summary, I think you are looking for trouble only if you specifically state the origin of woods on export documentation of invoice and state that it is a new gutiar) - simple thing to do is not mention it is a CITES wood and nothing ever happens.
Most brazillian used now is pre cites anyway, and pre-cites built guitars should logically be exempt. as i mentioned before the only way to legally prove anything is by DNA testing - i have never heard of postal agencies calling for a dna test for a musical instrument - but i have heard of holdups because the wood species was declared, so simple answer do not declare the wood.... you are not hurting anyone if you are morally using PRE-CITES wood.

User avatar
dpo
Beefwood
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2016 11:14 am
Location: Waikato New Zealand

Re: Exporting music instruments to the USA

Post by dpo » Sat Sep 08, 2018 4:27 pm

I have sent over forty banjo uke's to the US and never filled out any paperwork other than shipping documents. Have hasd zero issues.
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments that take our breath away.

Kind Regards
Dennis

Southern Cross banjo Ukes
New Zealand

User avatar
peter.coombe
Blackwood
Posts: 553
Joined: Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:52 pm
Location: Bega, NSW
Contact:

Re: Exporting music instruments to the USA

Post by peter.coombe » Mon Oct 08, 2018 10:35 am

Assuming your declare your banjo ukes are worth less than $2000 USD, then you do not need to do the Lacy Act paperwork. That might explain the zero issues.
Peter Coombe - mandolin, mandola and guitar maker
http://www.petercoombe.com

User avatar
peter.coombe
Blackwood
Posts: 553
Joined: Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:52 pm
Location: Bega, NSW
Contact:

Re: Exporting music instruments to the USA

Post by peter.coombe » Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:04 pm

I have not looked at this thread for a while, but it bothers me that anyone would advocate exporting CITES listed species without the paperwork. What I outlined is the LEGAL way to export instruments to the USA, assuming they are worth more than $2000 USD. Exporting any species of rosewood from Australia in any quantity without the CITES paperwork is now ILLEGAL. Mahogany is ok if it is in a finished instrument, no paperwork is required. You might get away with it because Customs don't care about guitars or mandolins, but it is still illegal, and in IMHO unethical. CITES is there for a reason.

As for this vexed problem of what is "commercial", the latest information I have about the US rules is if any party is conducting a business, then the transaction is commercial. So if you are registered as a business in Australia, then any instruments you sell into the USA is a commercial transaction.
Peter Coombe - mandolin, mandola and guitar maker
http://www.petercoombe.com

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests