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Allen
09-17-2011, 12:04 PM
Here is a link to a post on the ANZLF where Peter Coombe who is a mandolin and guitar builder has posted what you need to do if you are to send and instrument to the USA and comply with the Lacey Act. He's spent a great deal of time and effort to get this sorted out as almost his entire market is based in the USA.

Exporting instruments to the USA. (http://www.anzlf.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3674)

Doc_J
09-17-2011, 12:25 PM
Here is a link to a post on the ANZLF where Peter Coombe who is a mandolin and guitar builder has posted what you need to do if you are to send and instrument to the USA and comply with the Lacey Act. He's spent a great deal of time and effort to get this sorted out as almost his entire market is based in the USA.

Exporting instruments to the USA. (http://www.anzlf.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3674)

Wow. I had no idea it took all that.

I think that red tape, a strong Australian dollar, and shipping costs explains why we don't see many Australian ukes here in the USA.

Allen, do you ship to the USA, or is it not worth the trouble?

Pete Howlett
09-17-2011, 01:40 PM
I'm thinking "Only if I have to..."

Allen
09-17-2011, 04:33 PM
I've sold quite a few guitars to the USA before your currency tanked and the Lacey act was being enforced. Now I get enquires but nothing eventuates. My market now is mostly domestic, and trying to get my head around what it would take to send an instrument to the USA gives me a headache. Plus the added cost of the shipping is going to tip the scale for any mid priced instruments. I could only see it eventuating on something really customised and the purchaser was in the pointy end of the market.

southcoastukes
09-20-2011, 01:20 PM
Hello Allen,

That was a great post. The page you referenced was excellent, especially in reference to the various mechanics of shipment.

We are fighting our way through the same maze. It's urgently important to us, as although we do fit & finish here in Louisiana, we build in Central America. Every instrument, in other words, is technically an import.

In wading through all this, I have come to a different conclusion. I can't say I'm confident about it, but I actually got through to FWS and had one of their anonymous representatives confirm my interpretation. Here's the page:

http://www.fws.gov/international/DMA_DSA/CITES/pdf/cpc.pdf

Reading this, it appears the process Peter outlines would be for Appendix I only. We are using only Appendix II & III woods, and it appears that in those instances (as well as for woods not listed at all), the simple declaration form will suffice - in other words no import permit required.

If you think he would be interested, run this by Peter and see what his take is. I can tell he's been looking at the situation longer than me - but without this one page, I probably would have also taken his view, and one page amid the mountains of info is awfully easy to miss.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-20-2011, 02:29 PM
Dirk, what is the "simple declaration form" you refer to and is there still the 60 day review time with it?

southcoastukes
09-20-2011, 03:46 PM
Dirk, what is the "simple declaration form" you refer to and is there still the 60 day review time with it?

Here is the form (and supplemental form with extra space for the additional entires needed for all the materials in stringed instruments). It's basically listing everything your instrument is made of and declaring they are as stated. What you're swearing to is that there are no Lacey violations. I don't think the 60 days are neccessary, but I haven't worked out all the mechanics yet.

http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/lacey_act/downloads/declarationform.pdf

http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/lacey_act/downloads/declarationform-supp.pdf

I did say simple didn't I? Well, the one thing that isn't simple is the "quantity of material". In other words, the weight of everything (weight of Dalbergia Retusa binding!!). As long as everything totals the weight of the instrument, you won't have to be that exact.

Somebody, also has published a list of typical wieights for all the elements of a guitar. I can't find it at the moment, but let me know if you want it. I figure I can just divide by the percentage of the ukulele weight, then make sure it all adds up to the total weight of the instrument.

There's a whole lot to get through. Here's an even more exhaustive guide from the Luthier's Guild:

http://www.luth.org/cites.htm

The one thing that has me worried, is that APHIS says a permit would be required - FWS says only for Appendix I!

Are you importing something Chuck?

I'm trying to figure the catch 22 of importing intruments with woods that may not require a permit, and then shipping them to Australia, for instance, where export documents appear to require CITES documents from the country of origin.

So much fun!

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-20-2011, 04:20 PM
I'm not importing finished instruments certainly but I am bringing shell and other inlay materials from Australia. My last order was about a year ago though so I don't know how the distributor has changed business. And of course, a lot of the woods we use are imported from a distributor but certainly nothing that is on the appendix 1 list. I'm just thinking that this is just the beginning. Today we worry about imports, tomorrow it will be exports. My volume of production is so small but still it's made me think twice about the way I do business and even how I build.
Thanks for the effort you've taken to share this information with us.

Rick Turner
09-20-2011, 06:15 PM
This stuff is such a pain in the ass for us...the little guys...and I'm old enough and cynical enough to believe that the big guys get around this all the time (Gibson being a unique case of probable revenge...). As an American, I'd like to think: "Wow, this is a boost for "Buy American"!" here in the 'States, but it's not...given all the consumer goods from 3rd world countries I see in stores here. It's another "bury the little guys in utter bullshit" thing.

If any "industry" uses precious resources well, it's the music industry as practiced by even the largest of our domestic guitar, bass, and uke manufacturers. We luthiers are not the problem, and we've not the resources to bribe, scam, and legalize the grinning fool bureaucrats who would equate us with the worst of the worst despoilers of nature...

And that's probably as political as I dare get here.

buddhuu
09-20-2011, 09:16 PM
[...]
And that's probably as political as I dare get here.
I think that, within reason, if you need to introduce an element of relevant political discussion here in this thread then go ahead. After all, this is what you guys do. For the rest of us it's a concern and a pain in the rear: for you pros it's more serious than that. Discuss in whatever depth and breadth you need to. Just be guided by your sense of propriety.

Tack
09-20-2011, 09:44 PM
NOW I understand why the American luthiers are so concerned about what might happen to their instruments if they export them internationally.... Happily we don't seem to have the same level of import restrictions here in Australia apart from the major cites issue. Specifically no additional wood type import restrictions I can identify out side of quarantine issues of disease/infestation.* Finally got responses from all 3 departments here regarding importing inlayed ukulele and all seems good - barring the inevitable 10% tax :)

*brazilian rosewood still an issue

Allen
09-20-2011, 10:42 PM
Hello Allen,

If you think he would be interested, run this by Peter and see what his take is. I can tell he's been looking at the situation longer than me - but without this one page, I probably would have also taken his view, and one page amid the mountains of info is awfully easy to miss.

I've let Peter know of this thread and pointed him to it. Thanks for your heads up Dirk.

Allen
09-21-2011, 09:49 AM
Peter has had a look at this thread and the documents mentioned by Dirk. Here is his reply to me.



Allen

Thanks for that. Glad to see someone is finding it useful. However, there is some misunderstanding there. My mandola does not contain any CITES listed species, but a US F&W import/export permit was necessary because it contained Paua shell inlay. If the instrument involves a commercial transaction and it contains shell then a permit is necessary. If there was no shell then we would not have needed the permit. It does not matter what species the shelfish is, and does not matter how small or large the amount of shell is, if it is a commercial transaction, then a F&W import/export permit is definately required.

As far as CITES listed species is concerned, I recommend that Australian based Luthiers do not export CITES listed species. It is just too hard. You need an Australian export permit to do that and it won't necessarily always be approved. Australia has tougher rules than the minimum requirements of the CITES treaty. Appendix III are treated as if they were Appendix II and some Appendix II species are treated as if they were Appendix I, and as far as I am aware Appendix I are banned from import/export. There are exceptions, but we don't fit the exceptions. My tips do not cover the requirements for CITES. The CITES rules in the USA are different.

If there are no CITES listed species then import/export from Australia at the moment should be no problem so long as it follows the AQUIS rules on imports.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-21-2011, 09:59 AM
The phrase "commercial transactions" was mentioned a couple of times in Peter's informative response. I am aware that some individuals are attempting to circumvent these regulations by "personally" carrying these items through customs. Is doing so, without the proper documentation legal? It seem snot to be.

southcoastukes
09-21-2011, 10:51 AM
Chuck -

Tomorrow is here! Check back on that first link ("Who needs Permits" - there's some sections on exports, and guess what?) Doing any business in Japan?

Thanks Alan (and thanks to Peter),

I had not even gotten to the shell issue, although I knew a list existed and I'd have to check it out once I felt confident about the wood. No wonder Duke of Pearl & Rescue Pearl are sweating bullets!

Our instruments have 3/32" MOP side markers - that's it in the way of shell. If it turns out that those are the only things that would bump us out of Declaration only and into Permit, I'm going to have to think about using even those!

Plastic side dots? OMG!

Michael N.
09-21-2011, 11:06 AM
Use unbleached Cow Bone. It Yellows nicely and doesn't look cheap. I'm sure there are many other alternatives that will look fine, contrasting wood perhaps?
The synthetic Ivoroid or perloid. They use the stuff on high end (high price) Classical Guitar tuners and I've yet to hear one player or maker complain about it.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-21-2011, 11:31 AM
Chuck -

Tomorrow is here! Check back on that first link ("Who needs Permits" - there's some sections on exports, and guess what?) Doing any business in Japan?

Thanks Alan (and thanks to Peter),

I had not even gotten to the shell issue, although I knew a list existed and I'd have to check it out once I felt confident about the wood. No wonder Duke of Pearl & Rescue Pearl are sweating bullets!

Our instruments have 3/32" MOP side markers - that's it in the way of shell. If it turns out that those are the only things that would bump us out of Declaration only and into Permit, I'm going to have to think about using even those!

Plastic side dots? OMG!

So a permit is required for any exportation out of the USA of any of the materials listed in appendices 1, 2 and 3?
I've stopped shipping Internationally about a year ago. Strangely, the couple of wholesaler I deal with have either shipped or carried these instruments through customs and have not been concerned with it. That's why I asked about the "personal" aspect of transporting these materials.
Regarding the side dots, I believe plastic rod is pretty commonly used. It's cheap and easy to install. Given the small size I doubt if any one is going to care whether it's pearl shell or not.

Rick Turner
09-21-2011, 11:38 AM
Thanks, Rick.

southcoastukes
09-21-2011, 11:48 AM
Use unbleached Cow Bone. It Yellows nicely and doesn't look cheap...

Thanks Michael,

I like this idea. Has it got an historical use? I was just on the phone a half hour ago with my partner Omar in Central America. He has always refused to used "store bought bone". He prefers to go to his friend the local butcher and pick through his stash for the "good ones".

I jokingly asked him if his butcher could provide us paperwork on his cattle.

thistle3585
09-21-2011, 03:55 PM
The phrase "commercial transactions" was mentioned a couple of times in Peter's informative response. I am aware that some individuals are attempting to circumvent these regulations by "personally" carrying these items through customs. Is doing so, without the proper documentation legal? It seem snot to be.

In the US, they are being called "formal entries" not "commercial transactions" but they only apply to people importing goods and not exporting goods. You should read the FAQ at the APHIS website. Interestingly, I can't find anything, anywhere on how the Lacey Act addresses exports or re-exports from the US.

Rick Turner
09-21-2011, 05:06 PM
It's perfectly alright to eat abalone, but use the shell and go to jail, I guess...

southcoastukes
09-21-2011, 07:48 PM
...Interestingly, I can't find anything, anywhere on how the Lacey Act addresses exports or re-exports from the US.

Correct - Lacey is imports only. FWS (Fish & Wildlife), however, is charged with CITES enforcement. They overlap with APHIS on the imports, but it's FWS that requires CITES documentation on exports & re-exports.

Check back on my first link.

Also, in regards to Chuck's questions about personal vs. commercial, the Luthier's Guild says that there is a presumption that less than 8 unused identical items do not constitute a commercial enterprise. I'm not sure where they get that, but if true, a lot of small shipments could go unchallenged. Still, when you look at the penalties (up to 1/2 million dollars and jail for knowing violations) it's not an appealing risk.

thistle3585
09-22-2011, 04:50 AM
I wondered if that may be the case, so there aren't any changes from pre-Lacey era by the US Govt for exporting goods? Only CITES and laws of the country in which the item is shipping?

So, now I'm wondering about interstate commerce in the US because that was the original point of the Lacey Act.

Rick Turner
09-22-2011, 04:53 AM
Dirk, is that eight unused identical objects in one shipment? Or is it something else...as in any of us being in some form of production making multiples but shipping less than eight at a time to one overseas location? So many ways to parse these things...

southcoastukes
09-22-2011, 06:08 AM
I wondered if that may be the case, so there aren't any changes from pre-Lacey era by the US Govt for exporting goods? Only CITES and laws of the country in which the item is shipping?

So, now I'm wondering about interstate commerce in the US because that was the original point of the Lacey Act.

I can't really speak to Pre-Lacey, as I wasn't really looking at this then. I imagine you're correct there.

You're also correct on interstate commerce - Lacey rules apply. Apparently, at this time, the odds (if you want to play them), of any enforcement at the interstate level are almost zero.


Rick Turner
Dirk, is that eight unused identical objects in one shipment? Or is it something else...as in any of us being in some form of production making multiples but shipping less than eight at a time to one overseas location? So many ways to parse these things...

My reading of this is eight in one shipment. The is from the Luthier's Guild guide (link above), and I'm not even sure where they got their info. They might respond directly to you, Rick.

hoosierhiver
09-22-2011, 06:49 AM
I recently has US Customs go thru a batch of banjo-ukes and completely destroyed a couple of them.
Completely as in, tore off the back, broke off the neck and sliced the top with a knife. They then put some green US customs inspected tape on the junk and put it back in the cases for me. It seemed totally unnecessary and vicious. Surely they can X-ray stuff and they have drug dogs. It really looked like they just smashed them for fun. Why would you have to slice the top when you've also tore off the back? Pure malice in my opinion.

Rick Turner
09-22-2011, 09:14 AM
Let's see if this will post:

Materials Declaration from Rick Turner/Renaissance Guitar Company, Santa Cruz, CA, USA
Customer Instrument Model Serial Number Date



Instrument Material Vendor Country Approx Date
Part of Origin Purchased
Peghead face veneer
String nut
Neck blank
Fingerboard
Fingerboard inlays
Neck inlays
Body top
Body back
Body sides
Decorative binding trim
Decoratve purfling trim




Miscellaneous:


OK, the spreadsheet formatting didn't post, but I did this in Excel and at the very least my luthiers can fill in the blanks when they hand in an instrument for shipping, and all the info will be there for my admin assistant to fill in any relevant government forms.

If anyone wants the formatted version of this, just email me and I'll attach it in a reply.

Allen
09-25-2011, 10:24 AM
Peter has sent me some more info for addition to this thread.


More clarificaton for the UU.

The Lacey Act amendments apply to imports and exports as well as interstate trade. So you do need a permit to import or export any quantity of shell to be legal. That is why LMI and Stew Mac do not export any shell material any more. It is simply far too expensive after they pay for the permit and inspection fees. As for what is "commercial", there is a legal definition of "commercial", but rather than rely on your interpretation (which could be wrong), the safe thing to do is to assume that it is commercial if any money changes hands, particularly if your instrument is worth several thousand dollars. F&W would need an army of staff to enforce import/export as well as interstate trade, so they are not enforcing interstate trade at the moment. However, I would not rely on what they are enforcing or not enforcing at any particular time, that can change, but would do what is necessary to be legal. It is not so difficult to be legal, but does take time and paperwork. The F&W permit is for 12 months and is a one off, so you don't need a new permit for each shipment. The penalties are so large that it is not worth the risk of not being legal.

I would urge anyone interested in this stuff to read Chuck's (the Duke of Pearl) paper. This is the best information available on the net at the moment.

http://www.luth.org/cites.htm

Peter

_________________
Peter Coombe - mandolin, mandola and guitar maker
http://www.petercoombe.com

Rick Turner
09-25-2011, 10:52 AM
The Tea Party is looking more and more reasonable with regard to their criticism of government over-regulation of business.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-25-2011, 05:09 PM
This all comes at a time when we should be be more interested in creating jobs than eliminating them.
Cool. I'll just kick back and watch my welfare checks roll in.

southcoastukes
09-25-2011, 07:38 PM
One of my latest finds in trying to make my way through this maze is a chart from APHIS about who needs to make a declaration. It says that "informal" shipments need not declare - and by extension, need no permits.

http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/lacey_act/downloads/DeclareShipmentChart.pdf

Informal, is taken to mean non-commercial. Going back to Peter's message, posted by Allen, (thanks A & P, these are really helpful) the definitions of commercial are murky. The Luthier's Guild has their interpretation of less than eight identical items and Peter gives a worst case definition that any shipment involving a sale should be considered formal.

In our case, we have come to the sad conclusion that we should follow Peter's worst case scenario. The government is not saying that informal shipments are legal, just that at the moment, they won't be enforcing the law in those cases. They could change their mind tomorrow, and have made it clear that ignorance of their current policy is no excuse.

What I have also found, is that countries who are CITES members, and supposedly tied into this system, are generally not issuing the export documents the U.S is now requiring except for container shipments.

In our case, this means that the new standard instrument lines we have been working on for most of this year will now have to be reformulated with new wood selections. We were almost ready to start up, but had 4 woods in Appendix II, as well as Gold MOP.

The most galling of all is that we also have one wood in Appendix III. These are generally woods that have permit restrictions only in certain countries. One country, Brazil, has restricted, not banned, export of Spanish Cedar - a wood we use often, and in all our necks. Even though in Central America, we are not using any Brazilian timber, if we use Spanish Cedar, we would have to declare and enter the permit process to etablish that our Cedro is not Brazilian.

As I referenced above, a company shipping less than container lots has almost no chance of compliance, yet can still be held liable. The only solution for those in our situation is to eliminate all materials listed in CITES.

Fortunately, Central America has a wealth of wonderful woods. We're repalcing the MOP with bone. Unfortunately, we'll suffer a further delay in our development.

The chart above shows the way to what appears to be a loophole for small builders, but as Peter said the penalties for knowing violations (up to 1/2 million dollars in fines & jail), and the fact that the government can change their enforcement policies at any moment, mean that only the big boys will now be able to safely deal in CITES materials. Smaller operations should find other options.

mzuch
09-26-2011, 12:49 PM
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service released this statement (http://www.fws.gov/news/blog/index.cfm/2011/9/22/Where-We-Stand-The-Lacey-Act-and-our-Law-Enforcement-Work) today about their enforcement efforts in the musical instrument industry. Read it with the proverbial grain of salt. It says nothing about small-shop luthiers. Highlights include:

"Under the Lacey Act, we focus our law enforcement where it counts: Principally, on those who knowingly transact in larger volumes of illegal products. People who, despite exercising due care as consumers, unknowingly possess a consumer product, like a musical instrument or other object containing wood that may have been illegally obtained do not have criminal exposure. "

"To be clear: individual consumers and musicians are not the focus of any U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement investigations pertaining to the Lacey Act, and have no need for concern about confiscation of their instruments by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service."

Pete Howlett
09-26-2011, 01:56 PM
Well that is heartening isn't it? Tell that to Dave King who had one of his instruments destroyed last year - private transaction...

I have to say that I believe there is so much opportunity in the US but I prefer to live in the UK... I'll go to the doctor tomorrow, for free, get my medication free and then get my regular blood test free. If I have to go to the hospital to have a unit of my contaminated blood siphoned off it will be done for free. When I reach 65 I'll even get a free bus pass. As much as I enjoyed living in the US I felt constantly stiffled by the over bearing beaurocracy and lived in fear of getting ill and not being able to afford the medical bill. How do you do it?

southcoastukes
09-26-2011, 04:36 PM
Well that is heartening isn't it? Tell that to Dave King who had one of his instruments destroyed last year - private transaction...

...there is so much opportunity in the US but I prefer to live in the UK... I'll go to the doctor tomorrow, for free, get my medication free and then get my regular blood test free... for free... free bus pass. As much as I enjoyed living in the US I felt constantly stiffled by the over bearing beaurocracy and lived in fear of getting ill and not being able to afford the medical bill. How do you do it?

That's the point. If it's illegal and they choose "not to enforce" at this point in time, you are living at their mercy and whim. Try to say "I am not supposed to be the focus of your laws!"

As to the rest of your post, it's for another venue (as much as I might agree).

Stevelele
09-27-2011, 04:01 AM
Totally agree that the statement from the US Fish and Wildlife Service is hardly any kind of formal or official solution to the individual owners or the independent luthiers. The silver lining, however tiny it may be, is that they are reacting and responding to the outcry from instrument owners and even independent luthiers, which has prompted that statement about who is the target of their enforcement. I'm only adding this to the thread because I think that it would only help us to continue to spread the word, to your local congressman/woman, to your local media. Perhaps additional pressure will force them to formalize a change, although I recognize that it would be very difficult to come up with a change that would protect the little guys but still give the Service the power to go after institutional and systematic violators.

thistle3585
09-27-2011, 05:14 AM
Well that is heartening isn't it? Tell that to Dave King who had one of his instruments destroyed last year - private transaction...

I have to say that I believe there is so much opportunity in the US but I prefer to live in the UK... I'll go to the doctor tomorrow, for free, get my medication free and then get my regular blood test free. If I have to go to the hospital to have a unit of my contaminated blood siphoned off it will be done for free. When I reach 65 I'll even get a free bus pass. As much as I enjoyed living in the US I felt constantly stiffled by the over bearing beaurocracy and lived in fear of getting ill and not being able to afford the medical bill. How do you do it?

Pete,
Did Dave have an instrument confiscated under CITES or under the Lacey Act? Under what pretense did they confiscate it? Wood, shell??????

Pete Howlett
09-27-2011, 05:58 AM
It was CITES infringement. Instruments are destroyed after they are confiscated. It's really vindictive and retributive. I guess in this case it 'served him right' honestly declaring the wood species on the instrument. Don't know the full story but he ain't exporting Brazilain rosewood body guitars anymore even if certification is available. This whole thing is so overblown. I hope it settles down to a sensible level when the recovery truly begins, the job market comes alive and people stop stressing about stuff.