November 21, 2013
New EU Rules Ease Travel with Instruments
The World Customs Organization (WCO) has announced that, effective November 21, musicians travelling through the European Union (EU) with portable musical instruments as professional equipment may use the “green” or “nothing to declare” customs channel at airports. According to the new regulation adopted by the EU, “Total relief from import duties shall be granted for portable musical instruments temporarily imported by a traveler with the intention of using them as professional equipment.” The WCO Secretary General has said the policy change will improve “cultural life and economic activities.” The WCO press release emphasizes that customs officials will need training to become fully aware of the policy change. Travelers may wish to print out the WCO announcement and regulation to have on hand. Also, note that this policy change does not impact permit rules for travel with instruments containing endangered species material. We will keep you posted as the League learns more.
September 4, 2013
Tick-Tock: Fall Countdown on Policy Concerns
With summer coming to a close, Congress is returning to a packed policy agenda, including an array of issues that impact the arts and the nonprofit sector. Thanks to all in the orchestra community who connected with policymakers while they were home for the August recess. There are plenty more advocacy opportunities ahead:
- International Policies: For U.S. musicians traveling abroad, the League has created a travel tips and resource webpage as U.S. officials begin to implement a musical instrument passport for instruments containing protected species. Updates will be made to the page as new information becomes available.
- Domestic Air Travel: In domestic air travel news, the President’s FY14 budget included a request for new Department of Transportation funds to support the implementation of new helpful rules on the transportation of musical instruments by air. Given the tense Congressional budget climate, however, the prospect seems dim for budget approval. The law containing helpful improvements for air travel was passed in early 2012, but has not been implemented by the FAA. The League continues to work with its coalition partners to pursue implementation.
May 2, 2013
Endangered Species and the Traveling Musician
Register today to participate in a national webinar providing guidance for musicians traveling internationally! Individual musicians and ensembles worldwide present their artistry across borders, often bringing highly specialized instruments that are essential to the quality of performances.
Special permits are required to travel internationally with certain musical instruments containing protected species, such as ivory, rosewood, tortoise shell, and other material. How can you know whether your instrument requires such permits? The League of American Orchestras, in partnership with the American Federation of Musicians, The Recording Academy, and NAMM, is hosting a webinar, featuring experts from U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the agency that implements the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in the United States.
Join us on Tuesday, May 14 at 2:00pm Eastern for a free, interactive webinar that explains how to be compliant with the existing rules, invites your questions, and provides insights into what a new CITES instrument passport might mean for traveling musicians.
Register here >>
Please note: This webinar will also be recorded and available on-demand for those unable to join us on May 14.
For further background on this topic, please visit the League’s summary of recent policy developments related to travel with instruments containing protected species.
March 15, 2013
Endangered Species “Passport” Approved
Musicians traveling internationally with instruments containing endangered species material (such as ivory, rosewood, and tortoise shell) will have access to a new permitting process in the coming months. International rules have long required special permits for entering and exiting each country with instruments containing protected materials. A proposal to create a streamlined “passport” process was approved by 178 nations at a March 13 meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
- It will take several months for each country to determine their procedures for issuing and recognizing the new passports.
- Under the new system, each country may also continue to apply additional permitting requirements for complying with their added layers of domestic endangered species rules – so the CITES passport may not cover all permitting requirements.
- The existing permit process is extremely complicated, and confusion abounds about the current rules and what will come with the new passport process. Limited information about the current rules is available from U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
The League continues to partner with the American Federation of Musicians, The Recording Academy, the International Society of Violin and Bow Makers and others to seek clarity and technical assistance for musicians on how to navigate the evolving rules. Some of the details we are pursuing include clearer information about the endangered species material covered by permitting requirements, guidance on how to access reliable information about the rules for such a wide variety of countries to which musicians travel, and accurate information about the penalties for non-compliance. We are also encouraging policymakers to ensure that any new permit process is affordable and efficient. Please stay tuned as we make further guidance available and contact League Government Affairs with any questions.
March 13, 2013
Instrument Passport Under Consideration
Important news for orchestras and individual musicians touring internationally! Musicians carrying instruments with endangered species materials (such as ivory, tortoise, and rosewood) require special permits in order to cross borders in compliance with international and domestic rules. Note that this permitting process is separate from the duty requirements and carnet process familiar to most musicians. This week, the U.S. is proposing an instrument passport concept for consideration by the parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which may streamline the process for complying with certain international permit requirements. The League, in partnership with the American Federation of Musicians and The Recording Academy, has been in communication with U.S. Fish and Wildlife as it pursues an initial international discussion of the passport proposal. The current rules for obtaining permits are quite complicated, as there are layers of CITES requirements, plus each country's own domestic rules - and there is not a central resource for understanding what is required when traveling to multiple countries. While a streamlined process and the expressed interest in facilitating international travel with instruments is welcomed, the League, together with our national partners, is asking the U.S. and its international counterparts to ensure that any new approach takes into consideration the practical issues of cost and time involved with obtaining permits. The current CITES meeting concludes on March 15. Whether the passport concept is formally adopted, recommended for further consideration, or tabled, the League will stay in close contact with U.S. Fish and Wildlife to seek clear guidance on how musicians can comply with permit requirements. Please stay tuned!
October 18, 2012
League Weighs in on Cross-Border Travel Rules
February 6, 2012
Success! Air Travel to Improve for Musicians
An important provision that eases air travel for musicians was approved by Congress on February 6, 2012 as part of a broader package of federal aviation programs. The FAA has been operating on a series of short-term extensions since the 2007, and reauthorization has been a lengthy and hotly debated process. Throughout that time, the League and the American Federation of Musicians have partnered closely to advocate for a policy that will improve the ability of musicians to fly with their instruments in cabin.
The new law will make the process of flying with an instrument more predictable by allowing on board all musical instruments that can fit into the overhead bin or beneath the seat of an airplane. In addition to a uniform carry-on policy for small instruments, there is also a provision for oversized instruments that allows a musician either to buy a seat on the airplane for a large instrument like the cello, or choose to check the instrument. Thus far, airline policies have varied widely, with each individual airline responsible for adopting and enforcing its own policy regarding carry-on luggage and checked baggage. This has made it difficult for musicians to know what to expect when they travel. The FAA will soon begin implementation and airline policies regarding musical instruments will become uniform.
March 25, 2008
Draft Rules are Tricky for Touring
In the post-September 11 atmosphere of heightened security, touring orchestras have faced a number of potentially challenging new travel rules, from limits on carry-on items to restrictions on bows made of rare woods. Yet another rule under consideration could place a burden on orchestras touring internationally. In an effort to improve security at our nation’s ports of entry, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is proposing new, potentially cumbersome documentation requirements for all items shipped by cargo. While the draft rule would apply only to cargo shipped by sea-going vessels, DHS aims to eventually extend the rule to cargo shipped by air and ground. The League has submitted comments calling on U.S. Customs and Border Protection to ensure that new rules will not hamper international cultural exchange.
Read League Comments to DHS
September 27, 2007
Letter Confirms Pernambuco Decision
Please take note of a new document to have on hand while traveling internationally. A letter from the U.S. Department of the Interior officially confirms that finished bows made of pernambuco wood can be transported across international borders without burdensome certification requirements. This June, the international community considered an endangered species proposal that could have required musicians to obtain special permits before traveling internationally with instruments made with the Brazilian wood pernambuco - commonly used in crafting fine bows and other instrument parts. The League partnered with U.S. bow makers, NAMM: The International Music Products Association, and the American Federation of Musicians to successfully protect the ability of orchestras to travel internationally with their instruments. The letter can be helpful for musicians to carry while traveling with bows as they pass through customs.
June 14, 2007
Exemption Approved for Travel with Bows
Orchestras and individual musicians touring internationally may continue to travel with their bows, after winning an exemption during negotiations at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The international community met over the past two weeks to determine whether to include the Brazilian pernambuco tree on the endangered species list. Most fine bows used by string musicians are made from pernambuco wood. Negotiators settled on adding the tree to the endangered species list, but applying the listing only to "logs, sawn wood, veneer sheets...," specifying that finished bows that are transported internationally would not be subject to cumbersome CITES permit and certification requirements.
April 23, 2007
League Weighs in on Pernambuco
Negotiations are underway to determine whether the pernambuco wood that is used to craft most fine bows will be added to the endangered species list—and whether strict restrictions on transporting the wood internationally will only apply to the actual lumber, or might also be applied to items made from pernambuco, including bows used by traveling musicians. The League, in partnership with the American Federation of Musicians, weighed in with the U.S. representatives to the international convention, calling for responsible conservation efforts that will also protect the ability of musicians to travel and perform internationally with their instruments.
Read League/AFM Comments 23.05 Kb