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Learn more A weekly collection of previews, videos, articles, interviews, and more! The most recent addition to this article pertains to regulations governing Walrus ivoryat the bottom of the page.
Almost all of the emails and letters we receive on the subject address in one way or another the legal questions that inevitably arise around ivory. The import, export and sale of antiques containing ivory is highly regulated. This miniature portrait is oil on ivory, dating from the late 18th century.
There is an assumption in the general public that ivory is, at least in some circumstances, illegal, since the elephant species from which ivory is taken are endangered or threatened. But unless you regularly deal with ivory as part of your job, this assumption is often little more than a vague suspicion.
In fact, even expert ivory appraisers are often hazy on the law. This is through no fault of their own: The legal regime that regulates the trade in ivory is notoriously complex, arising from the intersection of federal statutory law, executive-branch orders, and the guidelines imposed by international conservation treaties.
As animal populations fluctuate, so do the laws. Fish and Wildlife Service to prepare a digest of the current laws governing possession, sale, transfer, import and export of elephant ivory. We will continue to monitor these regulations in consultation with the USFWS and update this page as new or changing information becomes available.
What follows is a summary. If you require more precise or complete information, we recommend you contact the U. Fish and Wildlife Serviceor consult with a trusted antiques dealer. As part of this ongoing process, the U.
Fish and Wildlife Service recently issued a new set of regulations, to go into effect in July of The new regulations further restrict trade in ivory derived from African elephants. The regulations governing Asian-elephant ivory remain unchanged. If you are in possession of ivory that you would like to sell, you can use this digest of the regulations as a starting point in determining whether the law may allow you to sell, import or export your item.
Import Commercial Purposes There is now no legal import of African-elephant ivory into the United States — whether it is raw ivory, worked ivory, an antique, or a brand-new object — for any commercial purpose. Non-Commercial Purposes If an item containing African-elephant ivory is to be used for non-commercial purposes, it may be legal to import it into the United States.
Provided the ivory for the item was removed from the wild prior to February 26,and was otherwise legally acquired, the following may be imported into the United States for non-commercial purposes: Musical instruments; Items in a household move or that are part of an inheritance; No more than two 2 sport-hunted trophies per year, assuming the trophies are accompanied by the appropriate permit, to have been issued by the country hosting the hunt.
The criteria set out by the ESA include: The item has not been repaired or modified with ivory, or any other part of a federally protected species since ; The item is at least years old; And, the item was either imported prior to or afterthrough one of 13 ports specifically designated for antiques; or the item was manufactured in the United States from legally imported ivory.
Non-Commercial Purposes In order to be eligible for non-commercial export, an item containing African-elephant ivory must be either an antique, as defined by the ESA: Or, it must have been created prior to the year in which the ESA was enacted and not have been bought or sold since that time.
It remains illegal under federal law to export raw African-elephant ivory for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial. The item has not been repaired or modified with ivory, or any other part of a federally protected species since ; The item is at least years old; And the item was either imported prior to or afterthrough one of 13 ports specifically designated for antiques; or the item was manufactured in the United States from legally imported ivory.
Or, it must have been legally imported into the United States prior to and contain only a small amount of ivory — the so-called de minimis exception. For a complete understanding of the de minimis requirement, which is more technical than is presented here, please consult the website of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, or contact an agent by phone.
Note that the regulations governing interstate commerce also apply to Americans living abroad seeking to sell ivory within a foreign country. It has not been repaired or modified with ivory or any other part of a federally protected species as defined by the Endangered Species Act since ; It is at least years old; It was either imported prior to ; or after through one of 13 ports specifically designated for antiques; OR the item was manufactured in the United States from legally imported ivory.
Intrastate Commerce An antique containing Asian-elephant ivory can be sold within a state only if it is accompanied by documentation from CITES certifying that it was imported prior to The information on this page is current as of May 8, Create your own style.
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