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Home » Recent News » CITES Webinar Details Travel Rules for Instruments Containing Protected Species

CITES Webinar Details Travel Rules for Instruments Containing Protected Species


On May 7, a webinar was held by the League of American Orchestras in partnership with the AFM and several other organizations to detail the latest rules of travel with musical instruments containing protected species. The webinar, a transcript, and slide presentation are now available for free, on-demand at the website:

The webinar explains when and why permits are needed to cross international borders for performances with musical instruments containing ivory, rosewood, tortoise shell and other protected species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). It details how and where to obtain permits and provides additional information from representatives of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency that implements the CITES in the United States. In addition to reviewing the basics, the webinar provides important insights into ways you can support conservation by being informed of rules specific to musicians and their instruments.

Efforts to increase restrictions on travel and trade in African elephant ivory and other endangered animal and plant species has placed a new focus on long-existing permitting rules for international travel with instruments that contain endangered species material. 

New Canadian Regulations

Canada implemented new permit requirements for musical instruments containing ivory on January 8. Canadian-issued import and export permits will now be required for travel in and out of Canada with ivory, in addition to the required permits already issued by a musician’s home country. All items containing worked elephant ivory must be accompanied by a permit to enter or leave Canada. This new regulation covers all individuals or groups traveling across the Canadian border. Items that do not have the necessary permits at the time of border crossing will not be able to enter or leave Canada.

• Canadian residents or ensembles traveling with instruments containing elephant ivory will need a Canadian CITES Temporary Movement Certificate or Canadian CITES Import or Export Permit.

• Residents or ensembles from other countries will need a Foreign CITES Musical Instrument Certificate or Foreign CITES Export Permit and a Canadian temporary import and export certificate.

In Canada, the service standard to issue these types of CITES permits is 35 calendar days, plus extra time for the permit to reach its destination through regular mail. To learn more about the Canadian regulations, please search “import and export of elephant tusk” at the website, call CITES Canada at 1-855-869-8670, or email

International Travel Tips

Before embarking on the permit process, it is critical to understand as much as possible about the rules and limitations that apply to travel with permits. Applying for the proper permits takes time and should be done well in advance of travel. It is critical to understand that, for both individual musicians and ensembles alike, putting the CITES certificate to use requires that the document is credentialed at international borders by authorities and inspected by officials separate from typical customs agents, and often at facilities apart from major airports.

For updated tips about international travel with instruments containing CITES endangered species, visit the American League of Orchestras site:
. Additional information and digital CITES permits can be found on the US Fish & Wildlife Service CITES webpage:

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