With the implementation of new CITES law for Rosewood and all species of Dalbergia Latifolia on 2nd of January 2017, the life of guitar players changed upside down.

We are going to share some very important links and explain the formalities so if you are looking to export or import and handle rosewood this information is going to help you a lot and ease your worries. Its not as difficult or as complicated as it seems.

What is CITES?

CITES is the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna. It is an international agreement between governments, which aims to ensure the international trade in specimens of plants and wide animals does not threaten their survival. Governments decided to crackdown the illegal trading of Rosewood during the CITES summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, in September 2016.

Why Rosewood Trade is Restricted?

The trade of rosewood timber is a billion dollar business. Due to the excessive use of Brazilian Rosewood and other rosewood species, it became endangered and also due to lot of illegal trade and smuggling of it this led to substantial harm to woodland ecosystems.

As a result, it leads to the destruction of forests around the world. Mostly these timbers are used for making luxury furniture market in China. According to the findings of UN Office of Drugs and Crime, the most trafficked wild product in the world is Rosewood. The new CITES trade regulation is the ideal solution for this problem. This is let to rosewood not being easily available, at the same time importers and exporters have to go through formalites with CITES and CUSTOMS to make sure they purchased the rosewood logs legally.

The Influence of New Rule in Guitar Trade

According to the new CITES law, the sellers and dealers who ship instruments internationally that feature rosewood should comply with the new rules. Thus, they must have a permit from the appropriate government regulatory agency in their country. If you are residing in the United States, you must get a permit from Fish and Wildlife Service. A permit is not required for domestic shipment. Therefore, it may take more days while shipping internationally. The price of the product will also increase due to this new law. But, the cost will be very less for frequent shippers.     


Rosewood Trade: This is not the End…

Though the new law is implemented with strict rules and regulations of trading rosewood, this is not the end of this trade. Still, the manufacturers are using rosewood. Thus, the law ensures that there will not be any abuses. The smuggling of rosewood is restricted due to the implementation of new law. Now manufacturers of musical instruments comply with these laws and they use only the legally sourced materials for manufacturing these musical instruments. Exotic Wood Zone has permit to import Rosewoods from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Do you really need a permit to travel with your instrument?

It does not have CITES listed wildlife components (i.e., elephant ivory, snake skin), but it does have Appendix-II rosewood. This question relates to paragraph b) of the new annotation for Dalbergia spp. and bubinga. Generally what this paragraph means is that if a specimen of the newly listed Appendix-II Dalbergia spp., excluding 19 Siamese rosewood (Dalbergia cochinchinensis), or bubinga is less than 10 kg and is being moved for non-commercial purposes, it will not require a permit.

The 10-kg threshold refers to the weight of the protected species within that instrument, not the instrument itself. Many instruments, such as guitars and violins, when imported or exported for noncommercial purposes such as personal travel or performance, are excluded from the listing and thus exempt from the Appendix-II permit requirements, as the weight threshold will not be exceeded. However, some instruments may contain more than 10 kg of the protected species, such as a double bass, a marimba, or certain drums. Even if the Appendix-II Dalbergia spp. or bubinga in an instrument is less than 10 kg, if it is being imported or exported for commercial purposes, such as sale, it must be accompanied by CITES documents.

An instrument containing Brazilian rosewood must have been manufactured before June 1992 or manufactured from Brazilian rosewood harvested before June 1992 in order to qualify as a pre-Convention specimen. Documentation from the manufacturer, such as the serial number of the instrument or a statement from the manufacturer, may be sufficient to document the age of the instrument.


Personal Effects Exemption

Under CITES, the term “personal or household effects” means specimens that are personally owned and legally acquired, and worn, carried, or included in personal accompanying baggage or part of a household move. Generally speaking, items that meet this definition are exempt from CITES requirements. However, not all CITES Parties implement the personal effects exemption. Currently under U.S. regulations, species included in Appendix I do not qualify for the personal effects exemption.

Musical Instrument Certificate

A Musical Instrument Certificate is a passport-like certificate for musical instruments that is issued to individuals when a CITES document is required. If your instrument contains material that would not be exempt from a CITES listing, such as instruments that contain less than 10 kg of Dalbergia sp. wood, or covered by the personal effects exemption, you may want to consider obtaining a musical instrument certificate. These certificates have been issued for instruments that are manufactured from Brazilian rosewood or contain wildlife species like African elephant ivory or sea turtle shell. To be eligible for this certificate, your primary residence must be in the United States and you must be eligible for a CITES document. These certificates may be valid for up to three years and are intended for multiple border crossings for non-commercial purposes (i.e., the instruments are not being offered for sale or being sold while outside the United States).


Selling Musical Instrument in another Country

Musical Instrument Certificates are intended for multiple border crossings for non-commercial purposes (i.e., the instruments are not being offered for sale or being sold while outside the country where the certificate was issued), and the instrument must return to the country where the certificate was issued.

If the individual buying the instrument containing only Appendix II rosewood or bubinga wood travels to the United States and hand-carries the instrument with them when they return to their country of residence, CITES would consider this a non-commercial activity because the sale took place within the United States, and therefore it is not subject to the CITES listing for rosewood. Brazilian rosewood (Dalbergia nigra) is listed in CITES Appendix I, and it is not eligible for the personal effects exemption.

A pre-convention certification is inevitable if you have a stockpile of the species that are imported before January 2nd, 2017. But if you dont plan to export it to other countries then pre-convention certificate is not neccessary.


The law permits you to buy and sell rosewood within your own country. But, a certification is essential for exporting or importing a guitar that contains rosewood. It means proper export and import license is essential for transporting any guitar that uses rosewood.


If you have a guitar that contains rosewood and want to sell it internationally, you can do it only with a CITES certification. It must also be marked pre-convention, which means the certification must state that the guitar is made before implementing CITES law. The paperwork will vary according to the place you live and where you are going to send it.

When you ask the interpretation of CITES rules, you will get different answers, which is the biggest problem in this field. According to the interpretations of EU Commission, the sales between EU member states are exempted from this new requirement. The Commission further states that you are free to travel within the EU carrying your guitar without a permit if you are using it for personal purposes. However, you need to complete the paperwork if you want to sell the items overseas even within the EU states.

According to the statements of Department of Justice and the Fish and Wildlife Service, if you are traveling with your musical instruments, you are not an enforcement priority. The law is implemented to restrict the unethical use of these woods for furniture making. Therefore, carrying a musical instrument in your personal luggage is not a bigger issue. You can do it if it meets the definition of household and personal effect.  

The US residents who want to sell his/her music instrument internationally can do it by getting a re-export license from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The UK residents can download the form from the internet. Residents of other countries can contact the service for their respective countries. CITES website is highly helpful in this regard.  

Exporting and Importing CITES-Listed Timber and Wood Products

All “rosewood” categories are now protected under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The entire genus Dalbergia spp. (except for Brazilian rosewood (Dalbergia nigra), which is listed in Appendix I), the three bubinga species of Guibourtia demeuseiGuibourtia pellegriniana, and Guibourtia tessmannii, and kosso (also called African rosewood) (Pterocarpus erinaceus) have been listed in CITES Appendix II, effective January 2, 2017. CITES documentation may be required for import and re-export of these species and items made from them. 

Import into The United States
A CITES document must be obtained from the CITES Management Authority of the exporting country. You can find contact information for CITES offices at the following website:
A separate CITES import permit from our office is not required. However, you must ensure that:
·         the foreign CITES document is endorsed at the time of export.
·         the foreign CITES document travels with the shipment.
·         the foreign CITES document is validated (the CITES document must be stamped) for entry into the U.S. by the appropriate inspection authority, which will either be USDA/CBP or U.S. Fish and Wildlife service depending on whether the items also have wildlife components such as mother-of-pearl.

Procedures to apply for a permit to import CITES-listed timber and wood products

An import permit from the CITES office for import is required only if the species is listed in Appendix I and the specimen in trade is not pre-Convention. Pre-Convention specimens do not require U.S. CITES import permits to be imported into the United States. But some countries, mostly notably the European Union countries, have enacted stricter domestic measures that require the issuance of an import permit for pre-Convention specimens. The US residents require a permit from the country of export/ re-export for importing these woods. (Contact information for foreign CITES offices is available at

The requirements are:

  • The CITES permit must be endorsed by the foreign country prior to export/ re-export
  • The original CITES permit must travel with the shipment (make copies before shipping)
  • The shipment and CITES permit must be cleared upon import at a CITES Designated Port by the appropriate inspection agency (please see question 5 above for details).
  • Keep a copy of the cleared permit and all related documentation in a permanent file
  • Be sure to provide a copy of the permit to future owners.

Export/ Re-Export out of the United States
A CITES permit and clearance inspections will be needed prior to sending the items out of the country. When you send the application, you need to include a cover letter that discusses your business practices, such as how often you re-export to other countries, the typical quantity, etc., which are essential for assisting the CITES officials in developing a permit that meets your company’s needs.
Inspections And Clearances At The Port:
If your items have wildlife components such as mother-of-pearl, they must be declared to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; you will need to contact the Wildlife Inspector at the appropriate designated port (see to make an appointment for clearance of your shipment and validation of your permit. You can review the Office of Law Enforcement’s webpage on importing and exporting commercial wildlife shipments, available from
If the items do not have wildlife components (cow bone is not a wildlife component), you can contact USDA-APHIS to determine their requirements for import and export or call the USDA-APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine office for guidance: (301) 851-2046.

Procedures to apply for a permit to export/ re-export timber and wood products

You can submit application form 3-200-32, available from Instructions are on the form. Indicate on your application whether you are applying for a single use permit, or a Master File. If you are applying for a single use permit, be prepared to respond to all application questions and provide the following information and documentation:

Scientific name (genus and species) and common name of each species contained in the shipment and within each product within the shipment

  • Description of items (e.g., logs, sawn wood, guitars, other instruments)
  • For timber, volume of each species in shipment in cubic meters
  • For products, volume of each species in cubic meters contained in each product
  • Evidence of lawful acquisition
  • Evidence of lawful import if relevant (cleared CITES permit, U.S. Customs import declaration)
  • Provide the current location of the timber or products, including address and country
  • Provide the country of origin of the wood

If you are applying for a master file, be prepared to respond to all application questions and provide the following information and documentation:

  • Scientific name (genus, and species) and common name
  • Description of items (e.g. lumber, sawn wood, guitars, other instruments)
  • Volume of each species in cubic meters overall for entire inventory
  • Helpful to include approximate volume in cubic meters for each product part (fretboard, neck, body, etc.)
  • Combination of species typically contained in each instrument
  • Evidence of lawful acquisition, including date of acquisition and corresponding documentation or other information on how the instrument was acquired (e.g., bill of sale)
  • Evidence of lawful import if relevant (cleared CITES permit, U.S. Customs import declaration)

Form 3-200-74 is used to request partially completed CITES documents based on an established Master File. This form is available from Partially completed CITES documents issued off of a Master File are valid for 6 months. The period of validity for a CITES document (permit / certificate) differs from the period of validity of a Master File. 6 Reminders: Check with CITES Authorities in countries to which you will be shipping to ensure that you are complying with their requirements ( Remember to contact partner offices and agencies for guidance on their procedures, such as inspections and clearance at the port. Additional permits may be required for wood and lumber, and a Protected Plant Permit issued by USDA is required for trading in CITES regulated plants and plant products for gain or profit.


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