View Full Version : Lacey Act Revisited -- Shipping Overseas

07-22-2010, 11:27 AM
Soon after the last thread concerning the Lacey Act and the impact it will have on over seas shipping of instruments, I realized that I will be shipping a uke to a customer in Australia. I decided to get a jump on things and call around and get the real scoop on shipping an instrument that has mahogany, koa and rosewood in it so that I could do it properly.

I wont go into all the discussions I had with a number of departments but here is what I was told to ship this instrument. First off, this only pertains to those that are shipping out of the US. The Lacey Act only applies to shipments coming into the US. The CITES list applies to shipments going out. If any of the materials that make up the instrument are on the CITES list then I have to get the appropriate documentation, as has been necessary for sometime, to ship it out of the country. Basically, this includes the source of the material and from where it was harvested and you fill out a CITES form and away it goes.

Luckily, or unluckily depending on how you look at it, the material I used on my instrument isn't on the CITES list because its Indonesian Rosewood, Hawaiian Koa and African Mahogany. Technically, I can just ship it and be done with it but it was highly suggested that I place a notorized letter, on my letterhead, in with the instrument that outlines all the materials from which its constructed. This serves two purposes, one if a customs agent decides to crack the package open and says, "Gee, I wonder if this is Big Leaf Mahogany." then he'll see the notorized letter and that it is in fact African which isn't on the CITES list and let it go through without hassle. Second, in the event that my customer decides to travel with the uke then he will have the letter to help him get it through customs.

Here's a little tidbit that a port authority officer in Chicago told me. As part of the shipping process, you select a harmonized tariff code. If you choose musical instrument then the odds of them opening the package to check the contents are next to nil. If I selected the code for any item that is listed on the CITES list then that would be a red flag to open it and inspect it. He also told me that I'd be better off shipping it USPS then UPS. UPS will be more stringent on the paperwork, because they don't want their containers held up. USPS containers are rarely opened up on their way out but they are opened up on their way in. Its bureaucracy at work. My point of exit, through customs, is in Chicago but the container is going to go to Hawaii before it leaves US soil. So, customs doesn't open up anything going to another US state. Once at Hawaii, it wont be opened up because its already been tagged as going through the point of exit in Chicago.

Finally, this just gets it out of the US. Once it gets to Australia then their laws kick in to effect.

07-23-2010, 03:52 AM
Unbeknown-st to my wife, these new laws was the main reason why I didn't buy my first uke from a shop in Venice when we were in Italy. I would have kicked myself in the head if they had held me up in customs on something like this.

Thanks for your write up and the shared experience. Best of luck!


Pete Howlett
07-23-2010, 05:47 AM
Thanks for that Andrew. At last, someone with contemporaneous experience instead of waffle. I always use USPS - they have good delivery links with the UK, don't loose my stuff and rarely charge the going rate for import duties. It also goes under the radar if it is under 2 kilos in weight - this classifies it as small packet or letter rate. Anything over that then it becomes a 'package' and outside of letter rate, requires invoices and documentation... It's why my shipping boxes are made for me. I can get any instrument out under 2 kilos by the judicious use of polystyrene sheet as packing stiffener. However, the last time I did a video on this i got roundly ridiculed on another forum.

07-23-2010, 08:08 AM
However, the last time I did a video on this i got roundly ridiculed on another forum.
Sometimes seems that's what that other forum is for.

Tariff code for ukuleles: 9202.90

07-23-2010, 08:34 AM
My tariff code is 9207.90.00.40 because I am shipping an electric ukulele which requires amplification. There is also no duty on it going to AU.

I didn't know that there were other forums other than this one and the mandolincafe. :) By the way, I use expandable foam packaging which is very light and completely encases the instrument. Unfortunately, my solid body electrics come in at about 6 kilos.

Are you going to be around Saturday evening? I forgot to get tuners from you last time I was in and I need some tenor strings. I'm camping out at Lake Lemon this weekend, so I'll be close by.