Travelling with Instruments

Stringed instruments and bows can be made from all sorts of different materials. Some of the raw materials traditionally used are now subject to species protection. There are strict trade and import regulations for the entry and exit of individuals with instruments over the borders of the European Union and to countries outside the EU.

If your instrument or bow contains plant or animal materials which, in their processed form, are not subject to the protection of species convention CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), then a verification of the materials in a so-called ‘Declaration of Materials’ is recommended. This Declaration of Materials can be issued by master violin makers and bow makers through maintaining the utmost duty of care.

In addition, for trips to the US a negative certificate from the BMLFUW (Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management) is recommended. This can be requested by submitting the Declaration of Materials to the Ministry, with processing times taking approximately 2 - 3 weeks.

With both the Declaration of Materials and the negative certificate, travelling musicians may pass through the green gate at customs.

Declaration of Materials - Geige

Declaration of Materials - Violin

Declaration of Materials - Bogen

Declaration of Materials - Bow

On the other hand, if your instrument or bow contains plant or animal materials, which in their processed form, are subject to the protection of species convention, then a CITES certificate is required for all travel in and out of the EU and to countries outside the EU.

Protected materials are: ivory, tortoise-shell, whalebone, bone of protected species, lizard skin, leather of other prote4cted species, specific mother-of-pearl, and rio palisander.

In these cases, import and export to countries both within and outside the EU must be carried out with a CITES certificate for musical instruments. Travelling without a CITES certificate could lead to the confiscation of the instrument or bow.

It is strictly prohibited to import or export any instrument or bow containing ivory to the US.

If travelling with an item containing ivory, musicians must always pass through the red gate at customs where the CITES certificate along with supplementary documentation must be submitted for stamping. The same applies, when re-entering the EU.

A CITES certificate for musical instruments can be applied for at, or at the BMLFUW, Abt. 1/8, Stubenbastei 5, 1010 Vienna. Long processing times should be anticipated.

A visit to my studio can provide you with additional information, protect you against problems when travelling, and prevent your instrument or bow from being confiscated.

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