FIM-Pearle* Handbook

FIM CITES Handbook (EN)

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Trav­el­ling with a musi­cal instru­ment may become com­pli­cat­ed if your trip involves cross­ing inter­na­tion­al bor­ders. If your instru­ment con­tains parts of species that are pro­tect­ed under the Con­ven­tion on Inter­na­tion­al Trade in Endan­gered Species of Wild Fau­na and Flo­ra (CITES), your trip requires in-depth prepa­ra­tion. The aim of this guide is to pro­vide hands-on infor­ma­tion to musi­cians, music ensem­bles, groups and orches­tras on how to com­ply with the applic­a­ble rules and how to apply for CITES cer­tifi­cates such as the musi­cal instru­ment cer­tifi­cate (MIC) before going on tour or trav­el­ling for oth­er pro­fes­sion­al purposes.

Why do we need certificates?
In the past, cross­ing inter­na­tion­al bor­ders with musi­cal instru­ments was sim­ple and straight­for­ward. This has changed with the grad­ual enforce­ment of CITES rules at an inter­na­tion­al lev­el, com­bined with an increas­ing num­ber of pro­tect­ed species. In order to avoid prob­lems at bor­ders – such as the seizure of instru­ments or bows by cus­toms offi­cials – today musi­cians, orches­tras, music groups and ensem­bles must pre­pare their trips and tours care­ful­ly, espe­cial­ly when vis­it­ing the US where restric­tions are stricter than in most oth­er coun­tries, due to addi­tion­al domes­tic legal pro­vi­sions [1].

In 2013, the CITES par­ties adopt­ed a res­o­lu­tion encour­ag­ing nation­al author­i­ties to issue a Musi­cal Instru­ment Cer­tifi­cate (MIC). The MIC, valid for 3 years, allows you to cross inter­na­tion­al bor­ders with your musi­cal instru­ment mul­ti­ple times, pro­vid­ed it is for non-com­mer­cial pur­pos­es (i.e. the instru­ment is not being offered for sale or being sold).

Non-com­mer­cial pur­pos­es include (but are not lim­it­ed to)
– Per­son­al use
– Paid or unpaid performances
– Pro­duc­tion (records)
– Broadcast
– Teaching
– Dis­play or competition

Anoth­er cer­tifi­cate is avail­able: the Trav­el­ling Exhi­bi­tion Cer­tifi­cate (TEC). Orig­i­nal­ly issued for muse­um exhi­bi­tions only, it was lat­er extend­ed to musi­cal ensem­bles and orchestras.



Con­tact your instru­ment mak­er or sell­er to col­lect infor­ma­tion regard­ing the species con­tained in your instrument.
If your instru­ment is old or antique, ask a well-estab­lished, recog­nised expert to issue a cer­tifi­cate describ­ing your instru­ment and list­ing all the species (pro­tect­ed and non-pro­tect­ed) con­tained in it.
If you intend to buy an instru­ment, we rec­om­mend that you request infor­ma­tion from the sell­er on the species used and on the his­to­ry of the instru­ment (suc­ces­sive own­ers) at the time of pur­chase, as well as any relat­ed paper­work. These doc­u­ments should indi­cate the sci­en­tif­ic name of the species con­cerned, to ease and speed up the work of CITES man­age­ment authorities.

Pro­tect­ed species com­mon­ly used in musi­cal instruments
– Ele­phant ivory
– Cer­tain woods: Per­nam­bu­co, Cedrela, Dal­ber­gia (rose­wood), ebony from Madagascar
– Oth­er mate­r­i­al such as tor­toise­shell, lizard skin, whale­bone, wal­rus tusk, moth­er of pearl, corals

Ele­phant ivory
Ele­phants are threat­ened with extinc­tion, hence high­ly pro­tect­ed under CITES. Even if most of the instru­ments and bows con­tain a very small amount of ivory, a CITES per­mit such as an MIC or TEC is required.

Due to the poach­ing cri­sis and ille­gal trade in ivory, strict bor­der con­trols are car­ried out by some coun­tries, in par­tic­u­lar the Unit­ed States.

Mam­moth ivory
As an extinct species, the mam­moth is not pro­tect­ed under CITES, which only cov­ers endan­gered species. How­ev­er, if your instru­ment con­tains mam­moth ivory, you are not nec­es­sar­i­ly safe as cus­toms offi­cers may not be able to dis­tin­guish between ele­phant ivory (pro­tect­ed) and mam­moth ivory (not pro­tect­ed) via a mere visu­al exam­i­na­tion. We, there­fore, rec­om­mend that you car­ry with you an expert cer­tifi­cate as evi­dence that the ivory con­tained in your instru­ment is exclu­sive­ly mam­moth ivory. In spe­cif­ic cas­es (i.e. for rare instru­ments or if prob­lems at the bor­der can be expect­ed), some CITES author­i­ties issue a “neg­a­tive cer­tifi­cate”, which guar­an­tees that your instru­ment does not include any pro­tect­ed species (based on an expert state­ment). Not all CITES author­i­ties accept to issue such cer­tifi­cates, but some may accept to val­i­date expert cer­tifi­cates with a sim­ple e‑mail. Do not hes­i­tate to con­tact your CITES author­i­ty and ask for such an email before travelling.

In August 2019, CITES Par­ties decid­ed to clar­i­fy and broad­en the exemp­tion for musi­cal instru­ments. Com­mer­cial and non-com­mer­cial move­ments of fin­ished musi­cal instru­ments, parts, and acces­sories that con­tain Dal­ber­gia genus (rose­wood) are now exempt from CITES per­mit require­ments*. This also includes Bub­in­ga species [2] used in musi­cal instruments.

Only Dal­ber­gia nigra (Brazil­ian rose­wood), list­ed in Annex I, remains sub­ject to per­mit requirements.

Please note that a sub­stan­tial num­ber of wood­winds, mal­let per­cus­sions (xylo­phones, marim­bas, etc.) and string instru­ments may con­tain rose­wood from dif­fer­ent coun­tries of origin.

Per­nam­bu­co and ebony from Madagascar
Per­nam­bu­co (Cae­salpinia echi­na­ta) and ebony from Mada­gas­car con­tained in fin­ished musi­cal instru­ments or bows are exempt from per­mit requirements*.

Cedrela con­tained in fin­ished musi­cal instru­ments (e.g. some clas­si­cal gui­tars) is exempt from per­mit requirements*.

Antique instru­ments
Instru­ments made before 3 March 1947 are “antique” accord­ing to EU law (this date is not har­monised across CITES par­ties). Trav­el­ling with an antique instru­ment is sub­ject to the same rules as oth­er instru­ments. An MIC is required for any CITES-list­ed species that is not sub­ject to an exemp­tion for trav­els with musi­cal instru­ments. We rec­om­mend that you con­tact your instru­ment mak­er and the rel­e­vant nation­al CITES author­i­ties before trav­el­ling with an antique instrument.

Oth­er species threat­ened with extinction
Should your instru­ment con­tain oth­er species threat­ened with extinc­tion (tor­toise­shell, lizard skin, whale­bone, wal­rus tusk, moth­er of pearl, coral…), we rec­om­mend that you ask your com­pe­tent CITES author­i­ty to con­tact their rel­e­vant coun­ter­parts in the des­ti­na­tion coun­try in advance of your trip, with the aim to be informed about pos­si­ble addi­tion­al domes­tic rules. We also advise to always have an expert’s cer­tifi­cate with detailed infor­ma­tion about the used species at hand, togeth­er with the CITES MIC issued for your instrument.

Per­son­al Effects Exemption
The Per­son­al Effects Exemp­tion applies to pri­vate trips exclu­sive­ly. It is not applic­a­ble if you are trav­el­ling for pro­fes­sion­al pur­pos­es. We rec­om­mend that you con­tact your CITES author­i­ty to check whether your trav­el falls under this exemp­tion. If not, you must apply for an MIC. You should also con­tact the CITES author­i­ty of the coun­try of des­ti­na­tion, as not all CITES par­ties recog­nise the Per­son­al Effects Exemption/Derogation, which means a cer­tifi­cate may be required.

* If your instru­ment is exclu­sive­ly made of species that are either exempt from per­mit require­ments or not pro­tect­ed by CITES, you can trav­el safe­ly with­out a per­mit. Be cau­tious though, as the pres­ence of one sin­gle pro­tect­ed species may require a per­mit (MIC or TEC). If your instru­ment con­tains a species exempt from per­mit require­ments, always check whether it also con­tains species requir­ing a certificate.

cites-graphics (English)

Atten­tion: The “Per­son­al Effects Exemp­tion” applies to pri­vate trips exclu­sive­ly (if this is your case, you do not need a CITES cer­tifi­cate). It is not applic­a­ble if you are trav­el­ling for pro­fes­sion­al purposes.


Con­tact your nation­al CITES author­i­ty at least 3 months pri­or to trav­el in order to col­lect prac­ti­cal infor­ma­tion about domes­tic rules in coun­tries of des­ti­na­tion and how to apply for an MIC (see next chap­ter if you are trav­el­ling to the US).
A CITES cer­tifi­cate (MIC or TEC) is not required if you trav­el exclu­sive­ly with­in the EU territory.
The costs of cer­tifi­cate issuance may vary from coun­try to coun­try. It usu­al­ly ranges from 0 to 100 USD / EUR.
The MIC or TEC are multi­use cer­tifi­cates (they replace sin­gle-use CITES export or import documents).
The MIC or TEC are valid for a peri­od of three years.
You may apply for an MIC, whether the instru­ment is your own prop­er­ty or is loaned from a third party.
The MIC must be stamped by a CITES-approved author­i­ty at each of the bor­ders you will be crossing.
A musi­cal instru­ment may only be reg­is­tered in one MIC or TEC at a time. There­fore, if you already hold one per­mit, you may not apply for a sec­ond one for the same instru­ment, whether indi­vid­u­al­ly or as a group, as long as the first one is in use

Dif­fer­ences between the MIC and the TEC
The MIC is issued for one sin­gle instru­ment. It lists all the CITES pro­tect­ed species it con­tains that are not sub­ject to an exemp­tion. Appli­ca­tions may be sub­mit­ted by the own­er (or the hold­er) of the instru­ment or by the ensemble/orchestra with which the musi­cian is trav­el­ling. An instru­ment with an MIC may trav­el in the hold or as hand luggage.

The TEC is suit­able for musi­cal ensem­bles and orches­tras. Only one TEC is need­ed for all the instru­ments trav­el­ling with the same ensem­ble. Depend­ing on the coun­try, the issuance of a TEC may there­fore be cheap­er than all the indi­vid­ual MICs com­bined. How­ev­er, using a TEC means that all the instru­ments must trav­el togeth­er in the hold. Tak­ing one or more of these instru­ments as hand lug­gage (or drop­ping out of the group and con­tin­ue the trav­el alone) is not allowed.

The MIC and TEC are both mul­ti-use cer­tifi­cates and are valid for a peri­od of 3 years.


The US has addi­tion­al domes­tic rules. If you plan to trav­el to the US, we strong­ly rec­om­mend that you con­tact the US Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice (USFWS), which is the admin­is­tra­tion in charge of issu­ing CITES cer­tifi­cates, so as to ensure that you com­ply with these rules.

Points of entry/exit
When trav­el­ling to the US with a CITES cer­tifi­cate (MIC or TEC), you must use specif­i­cal­ly des­ig­nat­ed ports (see the list assem­bled by the League of Amer­i­can Orches­tras and the list of the US Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice). There are 18 US ports to use when trav­el­ling with instru­ments con­tain­ing pro­tect­ed ani­mal mate­r­i­al (or both plant and ani­mal mate­r­i­al), and 32 ports when trav­el­ling exclu­sive­ly with pro­tect­ed plant mate­r­i­al. Try­ing to cross the bor­der at a non-des­ig­nat­ed port with a musi­cal instru­ment may result in delays and even pre­vent you from con­tin­u­ing your journey.

The 18 US-des­ig­nat­ed ports
Anchor­age (AK), Atlanta (GA), Bal­ti­more (MD), Boston (MA), Chica­go (IL), Dallas/Fort Worth (TX), Hon­olu­lu (HI), Hous­ton (TX), Los Ange­les (CA), Louisville ( KY), Mem­phis (TN), Mia­mi (FL), New Orleans (LA), New York (NY), Newark (NJ), Port­land (OR), San Fran­cis­co (CA), Seat­tle (WA).

IMPORTANT: Always check the open­ing hours of the cus­toms ser­vices at the point of entry. In the event they are closed, you may be blocked at the US border.


Since Jan. 1st, 2021, trav­el­ling between the EU and the UK with instru­ments con­tain­ing pro­tect­ed species requires an MIC or TEC.

While the Euro­tun­nel can be used for pro­fes­sion­al trav­els with musi­cal instru­ments con­tain­ing CITES pro­tect­ed species, the Eurostar doesn’t have a spe­cif­ic port to deal with CITES bor­der con­trols. It is there­fore not advis­able to trav­el by train between France and the UK.

IMPORTANT: When using a TEC, non-UK ensem­bles and orches­tras must con­tact the UK CITES author­i­ty to check whether an addi­tion­al entry per­mit is required. Extra entry per­mits are not nec­es­sary if an MIC is used.

The points of entry/exit to/from the Unit­ed King­dom are list­ed here

The points of entry/exit to/from the Euro­pean Union are list­ed here


CITES (Con­ven­tion on Inter­na­tion­al Trade in Endan­gered Species of Wild Fau­na and Flo­ra)
Also called the Wash­ing­ton Con­ven­tion, it entered into force on 1 July 1975. As of 27 August 2021, the Con­ven­tion has 183 par­ties (182 States and the Euro­pean Union). The aim of this mul­ti­lat­er­al treaty is to ensure that inter­na­tion­al trade in spec­i­mens of wild ani­mals and plants does not threat­en their sur­vival. In total, more than 35,000 species of ani­mals and plants are pro­tect­ed by CITES.

CITES Appen­dix I
List of species threat­ened with extinc­tion. Com­mer­cial trade in the list­ed species is pro­hib­it­ed. This includes ivory, tor­toise­shell, whale­bone, Brazil­ian Rose­wood (Dal­ber­gia nigra).

CITES Appen­dix II
List of species that, although cur­rent­ly not threat­ened with extinc­tion, may become so with­out trade con­trols. Includes Rose­wood and Pal­isander species (except Brazil­ian rose­wood) and Bub­in­ga [3] (Gui­bour­tia demeu­sei, Gui­bour­tia pel­le­grini­ana, and Gui­bour­tia tess­man­nii ), Kos­so (Pte­ro­car­pus eri­naceus), Per­nam­bu­co (Cae­salpinia echi­na­ta, used in bows) and Cedrela (used in guitars).

CITES Appen­dix III
List of species for which a coun­try has request­ed the co-oper­a­tion of oth­er CITES par­ties in help­ing to ensure effec­tive con­trol of inter­na­tion­al trade in that species.

CITES man­age­ment author­i­ties (EU and third countries)
The CITES con­tact points that deliv­er CITES per­mits and cer­tifi­cates in each coun­try. Gen­er­al­ly, the CITES man­age­ment author­i­ties are part of the min­istry of envi­ron­ment or eco­nom­ic affairs.

EU Annex­es A, B and C
The equiv­a­lent of the CITES Appen­dices I, II and III. The EU imple­ments CITES reg­u­la­tions but is free to add oth­er species or step up the lev­el of pro­tec­tion with­in the EU.

MIC (Musi­cal Instru­ment Certificate)
The CITES cer­tifi­cate that is specif­i­cal­ly aimed at trav­el­ling with musi­cal instru­ments. It replaces a tra­di­tion­al CITES import and export doc­u­ment and is valid for 3 years (mul­ti­ple uses).

Non-Com­mer­cial Trade of instruments
Move­ment of musi­cal instru­ments for per­son­al use, paid or unpaid per­for­mance, dis­play, pro­duc­tion, teach­ing or com­pe­ti­tion. In a num­ber of coun­tries (such as the EU Mem­ber States, most of the oth­er Euro­pean coun­tries, Japan, but not the US) this also includes inter­na­tion­al trans­port of an item for the pur­pose of being repaired or returned under warranty.

The applic­a­ble rule in the coun­try of des­ti­na­tion should be checked with your nation­al CITES authority.

Per­son­al Effects Exemption
Instru­ments that are per­son­al­ly owned and legal­ly acquired and are car­ried or includ­ed in per­son­al accom­pa­ny­ing bag­gage or part of a house­hold are exempt from CITES require­ments. This exemp­tion applies with­in the EU and with­in the US. It can­not be used when trav­el­ling with an instru­ment for pro­fes­sion­al pur­pos­es from the EU to the US or anoth­er third coun­try out­side the EU.

We rec­om­mend that you con­tact your CITES author­i­ty for more infor­ma­tion on this exemption.

TEC (Trav­el­ling Exhi­bi­tion Certificate)
This CITES cer­tifi­cate, which was ini­tial­ly cre­at­ed for muse­ums, was lat­er extend­ed by the 16th CITES Con­fer­ence of the Par­ties (2013) to orches­tras with the aim to allow the reg­is­tra­tion of all trav­el­ling instru­ments on one sin­gle cer­tifi­cate (instead of issu­ing an MIC for each instrument).

As the imple­men­ta­tion of the TEC is not homo­ge­neous across the EU Mem­ber States, you must con­tact your CITES author­i­ty to ascer­tain whether TECs are issued in the coun­try of departure.


1. For more infor­ma­tion, CITES Man­age­ment Author­i­ties are list­ed here: [Back to top]

2. The three Bub­in­ga species con­cerned are: Gui­bour­tia demeu­sei, Gui­bour­tia pel­le­grini­ana and Gui­bour­tia tess­man­nii [Back to top]

3. The term Bub­in­ga is only used by some export­ing coun­tries, whilst oth­er coun­tries use oth­er names, e.g. Kevazin­go (see‑CoP17-Prop-56.pdf).

The same goes for Dal­ber­gia, in par­tic­u­lar regard­ing Span­ish com­mon names:‑CoP17-Prop-55.pdf

as well as for Pte­ro­car­pus eri­naceus:‑CoP17-Prop-57.pdf [Back to top]