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View Full Version : Don't take your uke out of the country!



provines
10-20-2011, 11:07 AM
Check out this article. It is written about guitars but it applies to ukes as well! Your uke could be seized if you don't have the proper paperwork concerning the wood it contains.......

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/10/20/tennessee-reps-prepare-bill-to-protect-guitar-owners-after-gibson-raid/

"The Lacey Act. The expansive law makes it illegal to buy, sell or travel with certain wood products, and requires owners to carry specific documentation for others. The lawmakers say this threatens musicians, antique dealers and others who travel with products containing rare plant or wood materials."

austin1
10-20-2011, 12:09 PM
Ive travelled with my uke between South America, the US, and Europe, and Ive yet to have a problem. Is this act new?

Gillian
10-20-2011, 01:51 PM
Calling Ken Middleton!

I'm traveling to England in January and want to take a koa uke or two with me. Did you have any problems?

Trinimon
10-20-2011, 02:08 PM
Hummm, would I need a letter from Kamaka to bring a uke back to Canada? DOH!

chindog
10-20-2011, 02:32 PM
Ive travelled with my uke between South America, the US, and Europe, and Ive yet to have a problem. Is this act new?

Tina, I think this is not a new law, but a new interpretation by the Feds. It is predicated on the raid on the Gibson plant in Tennessee where they decided the imported wood didn't meet the requirements of the exporting country. You may not have a problem until you try to bring your exotic wood disguised as a ukulele into the US. Then, they may take it away from you.

mds725
10-20-2011, 02:35 PM
From the article: "The amendments would 'grandfather' all instruments and furniture made before May 22, 2008, when the law was last updated to cover exotic woods, so owners of those products would not face prosecution. Innocent buyers of such products before 2008 should not be punished," a statement released by the lawmakers' office said. . . . Currently, musicians who travel out of the country with vintage instruments that include exotic woods face seizure of their instruments and heavy fines if they don't have the proper paperwork when they return to the U.S." (Italics added.) So maybe the idea is that legitimate instrument makers are supposed to have been complying with the law, so that only instruments that predate the law are at risk.

These recent news stories might be helpful:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2011/08/31/140090116/why-gibson-guitar-was-raided-by-the-justice-department

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904787404576530520471223268.html

Here are a few recent threads about the Lacey Act and the Gibson Guitar raid.

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?54648-Lacy-Act-RELIEF

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?53202-Gibson-Guitars-singled-out-by-Justice-Department

coriandre
10-20-2011, 03:55 PM
I have crossed many borders with instruments without a problem....at least 5 times to the USA in the past 3 months and never a problem. They oponed the case a few times but it was not to look at the wood....more if I was hidding something in them. I talked to a friend that is a US custom officer recently and he told me that musical instruments are not a thing they are looking at unless they were made of elephant tusk.....his words. You would need to really piss off a custom officer for him to play this card. Think of all the instruments you see in music stores. Are they all made in the US ? Hundreds must enter the US every day...

peterp
10-20-2011, 04:09 PM
This topic was discussed a while back on the Collings guitar forum. I believe that the original idea was to seize any instrument made from Brazilian rosewood...which might have been illegally obtained. Just to be safe, stay at home or visit Hawai'i.

UncleElvis
10-20-2011, 04:25 PM
I think it'd be more helpful to figure out exactly what documentation would be needed, no?

If it's a couple of sheets of printout, no problem, right?

I'm not American and I'm not lawyerly, so I have no idea how to go about looking for it, but surely someone can peep the act and find the important bits, no?

scottie
10-20-2011, 06:52 PM
"Currently, musicians who travel out of the country with vintage instruments that include exotic woods face seizure of their instruments and heavy fines if they don't have the proper paperwork when they return to the U.S." (Italics added.) So maybe the idea is that legitimate instrument makers are supposed to have been complying with the law, so that only instruments that predate the law are at risk."

I don't understand this. Vintage instruments are generally pretty old, no? Why would authorities insist on paperwork for instruments that were made before 1960? Those seem to be precisely the instruments, the materials of which, would have been legal to import at the time. As I understand it's to ensure that shops who've made instruments within the last 25 years of so out of dwindling/rare/protected/endangered species are in compliance with laws (basically that any of this material was obtained legally which usually means before most prohibitions against importing)

I'll be the first to admit that I could be completely out to lunch on this, but I understand that people are quite excitable and prone to fits of incredulity.

It's also possible that people at airports are not particularly knowledgeable about such things so people with instruments get questioned unnecessarily.

Nickie
10-20-2011, 07:22 PM
My luthier told me all about the Gibson raid. I tend to agree with Chris Martin, illegal forest harvesting should be stopped. I tend to look askance at anything I hear from FOX news. They can be notorious liars, especially where the Gov't is concerned. I mean, look who owns FOX...

Nixon
10-21-2011, 08:50 AM
My tenor uke isn't leaving the country any time soon. Andaman padauk back and sides, Madagascar ebony fingerboard and hippo tooth nut and bridge. :(

Skottoman
10-21-2011, 11:18 AM
I took my Lava Flea to europe and had no issues... This was in 2009. But it pretty much looks all plastic.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-21-2011, 11:44 AM
My luthier told me all about the Gibson raid. I tend to agree with Chris Martin, illegal forest harvesting should be stopped. I tend to look askance at anything I hear from FOX news. They can be notorious liars, especially where the Gov't is concerned. I mean, look who owns FOX...

Illegally harvested and poached hardwoods should certainly not be condoned. But this has nothing to do with illegal harvesting. The rosewood involved in the Gibson raid was totally and LEGALLY harvested. The broker put the wrong code number on the batch! A different code number should have been used because of the fret board size involved and the degree of finish that was used. Nit-picky stuff IMO. This heavy handed action jeopardizes the future of EVERY luthier in America, both big and small. The amount or work necessary to provide the now required information for ALL plant and animal products being used, including LEGAL ones, is simply not cost effective to most small luthiers, myself included. The big companies can afford to hire the staff necessary in order to comply. At a time when we should be creating jobs we are doing everything we can to put these small businesses out of business.

mm stan
10-21-2011, 12:43 PM
Yes Chuck,
I'm sure the law wasn't well thought of when it was written....and it was so general, it could have been interpeted in any way for these agencies or an over
impulsed law enforcement official...both who are seeking attention and gain..
It has hurt and affect alot of industries, companies and their employees sadly...and the consumers.

mds725
10-21-2011, 02:44 PM
I don't understand this. Vintage instruments are generally pretty old, no? Why would authorities insist on paperwork for instruments that were made before 1960? Those seem to be precisely the instruments, the materials of which, would have been legal to import at the time. As I understand it's to ensure that shops who've made instruments within the last 25 years of so out of dwindling/rare/protected/endangered species are in compliance with laws (basically that any of this material was obtained legally which usually means before most prohibitions against importing)

My understanding is that a problem with the Lacey Act is that it doesn't have a "grandfather" clause for old instruments and/or it requires you to prove that the wood in your old instrument was legally obtained and/or legal when the instrument was made. The amendment proposed by the Tennessee senators would exempt older instruments that predate the banning of the use of certain exotic woods and were thus legal when made.