How to ship a guitar LEGALLY with CITES permits.

alk-3

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Hey All. I'm not really sure where to post this thread, as it really pertains to anyone with a rosewood guitar these days..if it belongs elsewhere maybe a Md can move it...


This is a post I’ve sort of wanted to do for a while now, and finally just got the urge to do it. This will probably be a pretty long post, but for those who are interested, it will hopefully be helpful.


My hope is to lay out the correct way to deal with CITES when shipping a guitar. There is so much misinformation about this floating around (mostly) guitar forums, and so many people interjecting completely false information, I thought maybe I should go ahead and write out what is actually required. This is not an opinion or my best guess, this is factual information. I ship CITES guitars regularly both commercially and direct to end users.


Most of you will only ever have to deal with Non commercial shipments (in other words, you’re either selling or buying a guitar from an individual as an individual, not as a business, or to resell etc.).


In this example I am the shipper residing in Canada and am sending a guitar to a private purchaser in the USA. The species in question is Brazilian Rosewood, but this also applies to all other species of true rosewood. The same basic procedure exists when shipping from the U.S.A to Canada, but every country has its own set of rules the follow to enforce CITES.


Disclaimer!!


PLEASE!! If you plan to comment something along the lines of “Ahh, just ship the guitar, the government sucks anyway!!” or “this is just some cash grab over reach etc etc.” or “what the f#@$! The tree is already dead, how can permits bring it back to life??” please just save it. There are so many places you can add your completely devoid of fact opinion without cluttering up a thread that I hope will be a source for FACTUAL information by those who know and who have experience doing it legally.


If you make the decision to ship a guitar internationally without the correct paperwork, that is your choice, but there are risks just like there are when you break any law. This thread is for those who wish to ship correctly and legally.



Okay, so lets get started..


In a nut shell, for personal shipments from CANADA to the U.S.A you only need a valid export permit. For commercial shipments you need a valid export permit AND a valid IMPORT permit issued by the destination country (U.S.A) that is a whole other matter requiring a lot of other work.


First (and this is often the hardest part of the whole process) you have to have rosewood with a paper trail dating to before the wood was banned under the CITES convention – OR!! Dating to before either Canada and the USA recognizes the need for controlling the trade of the species, whichever is earliest.

The USA considers the cutoff for legally trading Brazilian rosewood internationally to be 1992, which is the date CITES declared the species to be in danger of extinction.

In Canada that date is much more difficult because we consider the species to be in danger after end of year 1973.


Providing proof of age is relatively easy in the case of a vintage guitar, as you can provide serial numbers. For more recent Indian rosewood guitars (dating from before jan 1st 2018) you can simply provide your purchase receipt dating to before January 1st 2018. - NOTE: when buying used guitars always ask for a copy of the original recipt. this should become standard practice for guitar owners going forward as CITES is not going away, and one day you may need to prove your guitars age. Just pop a copy of the recipt in the case pocket and be done with it.

When it comes to raw lumber, or newly built guitars from old lumber, there are a few ways to prove your wood is legal. One way is to produce invoices that date to a time period pre-ban. Of course most people don’t hold onto paperwork that long, so this is likely going to be very difficult.

Another method is to find someone who has personal knowledge of your specific lumber having entered the country before the ban and have that person write a sworn statement. You will need a lawyer to do this, and have it signed by the person who has personal knowledge. If you ask a lawyer about this, they will know how to prepare a proper declaration. It must be very specific including dates, locations, and back story about the lumber, and any knowledge of it having changed hands before and after this persons involvement.


Here is an example of a sworn declaration:




Once you have your declaration, you are free to apply for your CITES export permit.

Here is what that looks like, filled out.










You can email this along with your declaration and any other proof of origin to the address on the permit.

Be sure to fill out your address and the recipients address correctly and it should not be a work address, it should be the residence of the recipient.


After a day or two you’ll get an email acknowledging your application. That looks like this:




Then a couple of weeks later, youll receive your permit in the mail.




It will contain two original permits and one copy for your records.

It will look like this, except WITHOUT the blue stamp.




At this point you will have to setup the shipment, so get online with the fedex website and create your shipping labels.


You cannot ship CITES materials through the postal service (technically you can, but you'll need to hire a broker to deal with customs on your behalf which is very complex). So it must be through a courier service, and in the case of FedEx must be shipped express (not ground).


You’ll be given your tracking number when your shipment is setup. Your tracking number is your WAYBILL number. You’ll have to write it on both original permits in the space provided.

You will now have to take both original copies of your CITES export permit AND the guitar to your nearest “port of entry” which is your nearest boarder crossing point. This can be an international airport, or a land crossing. You will have to speak to a customs official (in my case, a CBSA officer) and have them endorse the permits. The endorsement is the blue stamp above.

The officer will keep one of the permits, and give you the other permit. The officer will send their copy back to the CITES office to be kept on record.

You then take your remaining copy and head home to pack the guitar up to be shipped.

Once you have your labels all printed out, make sure you have a commercial invoice (FedEx will provide it based on your shipment information) you place your permit into a separate envelope and write clearly on the sealed envelope as follows:



Place that in its own separate clear sticky envelope and tape it shut.. you don’t want anyone opening this, as its your only original copy, and must not be lost.
This copy is only to be romoved by the recipient country's enforcement officer and stamped, and then this copy is returned to the originating countries office to remain on record as having entered the receiving country legally.

It's also a good idea to write directly on the box your CITES permit number etc. as follows:




You will also need to fill out a LACEY form this is for a les paul style guitar, with all the species and amounts etc. as follows:




And that’s it, you can now ship your guitar safely!
If your shipment contains more than one box, you should always write the CITES permit number clearly on each box in case they get separated.

Also note that although all of this takes a lot of time, it actually does not cost any money. So its obviously not a cash grab by any stretch..


Hope that helps out some people, even if it only serves as a source of information.
 
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DrSte31n

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Alk-3, thank you so much for posting this (and paruwi for making it a sticky). Very useful information.

Can the same permit be obtained to travel internationally with your own personal instrument (not for sale)? Do you need different/specific permits for all destinations (countries) you’re traveling to, including layovers, etc?

Thank you!
 
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RAG7890

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Awesome Tom. Great post. :thumbs: :applause: :applause: :applause:

Thanks. :)

Cheers, Rudi
 

Unionjack515

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This seems to be a great post. Admittedly a bit scary as I’m in the US and just sent my project Traditional up to Gord Miller in BC Canada for refinishing. He told me of the 850 or so guitars he’s worked on that were shipped from the US, he’s never had a problem regarding CITES. The only direction he gave me was to write the following on the package and the customs paperwork: “US goods going to Canada for repair only. Not for sale. To be returned to US owner upon completion.” Due to be finished in about 3 months, so I guess the proof will be in the pudding...
 
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alk-3

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Alk-3, thank you so much for posting this (and paruwi for making it a sticky). Very useful information.

Can the same permit be obtained to travel internationally with your own personal instrument (not for sale)? Do you need different/specific permits for all destinations (countries) you’re traveling to, including layovers, etc?

Thank you!
You can travel with your own personal guitar across boarder, as long as you list it on your declared personal items form (in Canada that is called a B4 form i think.). Also, you cannot bring a guitar back into your home country without first bringing it out with you.. in other words, you cannot fly to a country to buy a guitar then bring it home as a personal effect without a permit.. if you leave your country with it, you can bring it back (as mentioned, you must declare it though).
Also, you cannot ship the item to your destination and then arrive later yourself.. it must be carried by you in transport as a personal effect.
 

alk-3

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This seems to be a great post. Admittedly a bit scary as I’m in the US and just sent my project Traditional up to Gord Miller in BC Canada for refinishing. He told me of the 850 or so guitars he’s worked on that were shipped from the US, he’s never had a problem regarding CITES. The only direction he gave me was to write the following on the package and the customs paperwork: “US goods going to Canada for repair only. Not for sale. To be returned to US owner upon completion.” Due to be finished in about 3 months, so I guess the proof will be in the pudding...
most customs officials are not looking to uphold the letter of the law necessarily but rather the intent of the law, so i would wager a guess that you probably wouldn't have trouble, but if ever a customs officer decided to, they could simply hold the item until the correct remits are presented.
Gord may not have had any issues simply because how would anyone know the fretboard was brazilian or otherwise? Now things are a bit different (after jan 1 2018) because all rosewoods are now CITES listed. So if a guitar is opened in customs and its fretboard is dark, chances are very good it needs a CITES permit.
My fedex driver even knows to ask for the CITES permit at my door when i ship guitars. He told me fedex has been training to ask now when the item is a fretted instrument because the US/CANADA boarder has been refusing many shipments.

Anyway, all that aside, it might go through without a hitch, but this thread is really more about how to legally do it, not how to illegally do it, and hope for the best, haha.
 

Unionjack515

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Anyway, all that aside, it might go through without a hitch, but this thread is really more about how to legally do it, not how to illegally do it, and hope for the best, haha.
Thanks for the response. Quite frankly, I suppose I wasn’t educated enough to realize whether I was being guided on how to navigate the process legally or how to navigate around the process. So, water under the bridge now. Great insight here, very helpful.
 

Subterfuge

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as someone living in Toronto this stuff is valuable info !!! thanks for posting
 

Curlymaple

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Thanks for the post!

I have not bought or sold guitar lately and after all that work a seller must do in order to ship overseas are daunting but doable.

Therefore, I won’t sell outside USA for all that hassle IMO... only to ask by the buyer to make sure he save some money in shipping etc.

Great post FWIW.
 

Unionjack515

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Thanks for the response. Quite frankly, I suppose I wasn’t educated enough to realize whether I was being guided on how to navigate the process legally or how to navigate around the process. So, water under the bridge now. Great insight here, very helpful.
My guitar has cleared customs entering Canada from the US. One hurdle down.
 

JohnInNJ

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Great info if you're shipping from Canada. But each country was given great leeway in how to administer CITES regulations. So far my many attempts to legally purchase a used guitar with a rosewood fretboard from Japan have been rebuffed everytime by the Japanese government with the only reason given is that Japan will not allow any export shipments of rosewood. At this point I am unaware of any Japanese store that will even bother to submit paperwork to the government since it costs the store money to do so.
 

wulfman

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Do you mean that you are contacting the Japanese Government to see if you can get an export permit? I know that Tokai obtains CITES permits when it ships out guitars from Japan so the system is in place to issue the certificates if stores do the paperwork. It is probably easier to sell guitars domestically though.
 

Greg's Guitars

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Excellent article, but just due to the time and paperwork involved I would have to add up charges just to justify the sale (time is money) .Also with each country having there own rules and regs regarding protected species I have pretty much just quit selling to most overseas clients all together.
 

Subterfuge

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not good for the guitar industry in general buy the sounds of it . " I have pretty much quit selling to most overseas clients altogether" "only reason given is that Japan will not allow export shipments of rosewood" and "therefore, I won't sell outside USA for all that hassle" all seem to be the consensus of most stores. Once that mindset becomes known I believe Canadian internet buyers will not bother even looking anymore. Canadian Gibson Official Importer Yorkville Sound certainly won't be crying any tears though ....
 

dnabbet2

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I have a slightly different take on this though it does still involve Canada: I have dual Irish/Canadian citizenship and have lived in Kuwait for twenty years where I bought a 2015 ES-175 online from the US.

I'll be retiring to Turkey, and don't think I'll have any trouble taking the guitar there. But I may one day want to take the guitar to Canada. If it accompanies me as baggage and I declare it ... will Customs let it in?
 

OBLP

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I just purchased a Les Paul from Canada a few weeks ago and had to do all of this. I also had to submit a power of attorney to UPS to receive the guitar on behalf of me so keep that in mind as well.
 

WhiteEpiLP

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I have a slightly different take on this though it does still involve Canada: I have dual Irish/Canadian citizenship and have lived in Kuwait for twenty years where I bought a 2015 ES-175 online from the US.

I'll be retiring to Turkey, and don't think I'll have any trouble taking the guitar there. But I may one day want to take the guitar to Canada. If it accompanies me as baggage and I declare it ... will Customs let it in?
From my understanding as Tom has written it, no they will not just allow it in to Canada. You didnt leave Canada with it on your person therefore you must have purchased it outside of Canada and will require cities paperwork to bring it here. Being that it is a Gibson and a product of the USA I'm sure it will be much easier to aquire the proper documents, Gibson should be able to help.
Custom made guitars are a whole other ball game.
 

dnabbet2

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So, you're reckoning the dual-citizenship thing'll come into play -- I'm a Canadian citizen so I COULD be planning on staying in Canada and keeping the guitar there rather than returning home with it. I have only an Irish passport but I visit Canada every few years across the US border or from the Middle East, and I assume my citizenships are in their database. Thanks for the opinion.
 

alk-3

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If the guitar is Indian Rosewood, and was purchaed before jan 1st of this year, just use your recipt as proof that it is legal, and you're fine. If its brazilian, it can be more difficult to prove since you'll have to prove it was harvested before 1974.
 




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