On 20th December 2019, the Ivory Act received Royal Assent by the Queen and is expected to come into force in late 2019 or early 2020. The Act itself is extremely and intentionally restrictive, so it is good news that musical instruments have an exemption.
However, as the Act stands, all musical instruments and bows which contain pre-1975 elephant ivory item will need to be registered prior to commercial selling. There will be a fee for this as yet unknown.
Our hope was secondary legislation could provide the solution to get bows exempt, but this is not legislatively possible. For now, our recommendation is to familiarise yourself with the Ivory Act wording for musical instruments and the registration requirements below, because it will have a profound effect on trade.
Following the conclusion of a government consultation on other ivories, there is a chance that mammoth will be added to the Ivory Act. Should this happen we will be asking for a complete exemption.
(1) An item that has ivory in it is exempt from the prohibition if—
(a) the item is a pre-1975 musical instrument,
(b) the volume of ivory in the instrument is less than 20% of the total volume of the material of which the instrument is made, and
(c) the instrument is registered under section 10.
(2) In this section “musical instrument”—
(a) does not include anything that, although capable of being played as a musical instrument, was not made primarily for that purpose;
(b) includes a bow, plectrum or other thing made for playing a musical instrument.