Hi everybody. I have been particularly interested in this matter of hand transportation of instruments from EU to the USA. I am not a dealer, nor a private reseller, but an individual amateur guitarist who travels to EU frequently and has been interested for some time in hand carrying a guitar from Spain or Germany back to the USA. I have had special concerns since the implementation of the new CITES regulations earlier this year (2017). There seems to be much confusion about this matter, and it also seems because of the patchwork of regulatory agencies in the USA responsible for enforcing and interpreting CITES for the USA there continues to remain, in my mind, continued confusion. I have heard from some reputable brokers in Europe, specifically one in Granada, that if the instrument contains Appendix II Rosewood (not Brazilian) and has appropriate CITES paperwork, the instrument can be hand carried with ones personal luggage back to the United States under the "Personal Effects Exemption". I am still confused about this matter, especially about reading various "horror stories or urban folktales" posted above about being treated like a drug smuggler or terrorist upon arrival in the USA with a guitar. None of the stories indicated that one tried to transport an instrument, and were merely speculative. I have been researching this matter and found on the US Fish and Wildlife Service website a Question and Answer document related to implementation of the new CITES regulations and their implementation for import and export of rosewood in out of the US. It is interesting reading, and I am particularly interested in the point in the document outlining the "Personal Effects Exemption" which appears to allow one to transport a rosewood instrument back to the US exempt from CITES with certain stipulations. I have cut and pasted the text below from this section and also have included a link to the US FWS webpage. Take and look and let me know your thoughts:
Please refer to Item #48 in the attached link about "Personal Effects Exemption", which states:
"48. What is the 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, so please be sure to check with the
20 relevant CITES Authorities to determine if your item qualifies for the exemption. Please also note that,
currently under U.S. regulations, species included in Appendix I do not qualify for the personal effects
exemption. See below for additional discussion on this issue".
(Please note that full link to the US Fish and Wildlife Service Q and A document is attached at the end of this message).
It would seem that if someone has a pre-CITES Rosewood guitar listed on Appendix II, (i.e. not Brazilian), they would be able to enter the US with the instrument and be exempt from the CITES requirements. It is possible and likely that the instrument may have to be declared for customs duty although the document does not get into this matter. Nor does it discuss anything related to the Lacey Act as related to the Personal Effects Exemption. However, I am not a lawyer, customs broker or instrument dealer, so I am unfamiliar with the ins and outs of how these various agencies interact in CITES here in the US and with the issue of hand transportation of an instrument back to the USA as personal effects.
Now I put the question to the forum, has anyone here actually traveled back form EU to the USA hand carrying a rosewood guitar since January 2, 2017 and what has your experience been? Please no speculative or third party urban folk tales. I would imagine that this issue is largely unsettled and also unclear to those at US Customs upon entering the country. I would also appreciate hearing from any dealers in the US who are familiar with actual examples of people traveling back with instruments.
The point and purpose of my post is not to find a loophole or to engage in any illegal activity or to encourage smuggling of instruments across borders from the EU to the USA. The purpose is to have a sober discussion about some of the facts which have been presented in the specific document by the Fish and Wildlife Service. My sense is that one single instrument in personal baggage may be fine to transport as it would come under the Personal Effects Exemption.
Link to US Fish and Wildlife Service document here:
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q ... bY-CcNtlRn
Thanks everyone!! I look forward to your comments and input!!