To say it clear: the whole issue of CITES is somewhat complicated!
Rio rosewood, the favourite wood of most luthiers, is under the strictest protection of endangered species and may be traded only under definite conditions and be processed already since 1992.
However, this has penetrated into the consciousness of all partners real properly only some years ago, since the authorities more strictly control all rules and bans.
Especially all vintage traders, but also manufacturers of high-quality guitars were irritated since that time and try to come to an arrangement with these conditions ever since. Many musicians do not dare to be in public anymore with their instruments, many do not even take them on the stage anymore. As said if it is about Rio rosewood, about finger-boards, frames, grounds, footbridges or simply veneer, the state of issue is complicated.
From the 2nd of January 2017 on, the situation still becomes even more complicated, because now all rosewood kinds, not only Rio, are put under protection of endangered species. More than 300 different rosewood variations from all over the world! In addition Bubinga and Kosso are added to the list, which actually dont play such a big part in instrument-building as sound-wood.
Which wood is exactly concerned?
All kinds of rosewood including all subspecies are concerned. Amongst that list is the very often used "Indian rosewood" (Dalbergia latifolia). Also under protection are now three kinds of Bubinga (Guibourtia tessmannii, Guibourtia pellegriniana, Guibourtia demeusei) as well as Kosso Pterocarpus erinaceus.
What does this mean for musicians?
Who ever owns any instrument with these woods and uses it just at home, must act at all. No officials will knock at the door and ask for a certificate for any guitar. Also the travelling and the playing of concerts within the EU area is still unproblematic.
In addition the branch associations SOMM, GDM and BDMH have published a written information together for the classification of important and related woods in the appendix II of the protection of endangered species agreement CITES.
„Possession: No proof documents are necessary for the pure possession.“
„Travelling within the EU: With travelling within the EU no arrangements are to be made.“
Travelling in the non-EU foreign countries:
For travelling into a non-Eu country the entrainment of music instruments which contain affected woods is permitted without presentation of documents, as long as the amounts of weight of the wood affected by CITES II in all music instruments together is less than 10 kg.
The weight of transport containers and accessories is not included hereby. This regulation is valid only for the personal entrainment for not commercial reasons.“
Because most guitars and basses contain mostly only finger-boards from real rosewood, here only a very small part of instruments are affected by the regulation - relatively clear and thus unproblematic for most musicians.
What applies for the sales of affected instruments?
Once more a hint of the branch associations:
„For sales within the EU: For the sales a proof document is to be recommended. This is in general the commercial calculation (sales bill) or a confirmation on which the consumption of legal wood CITES II is stated.
If no such proofs are given, the duty or the local responsible federal state authority can confiscate products if they are offered from privately to the sales.“
In plain English: Who would like to sell his affected instrument from 2017 on, must prove that he has acquired this before THE REORGANISATION of CITES. This is not done with the information of the serial number of any instrument, as this merely brags, when the instrument was built, but not, when the owner has acquired it.
What can to be done?
The branch associations publish a clear recommendation: register your Instruments! „In your own interest, these instruments should be registered until february 1st 2017 as a so-called "preacquisition product".
„Up to this date the responsible authority will assume that the affected instruments were bought and in the possession before the beginning of the new regulation without other proofs.
Though after this date a registration is further possible as a "preacquisition product", but then however, the authority requires proofs (purchase documents, continuance proofs from the last stocktaking or similar) about the fact that the instruments have been acquired before february 1st 2017.
Who owns no purchase document to his instrument, as it will happen to absolutely many which have bought guitars privately, may be in trouble. Or has a very high expenditure to prove the acquisition date.
Everyone who applies for registering his instrument at the nature conservation authorities will get a file number assigned which announces the continuance for the whole registration process there. This file number must exist with the information on a sales receipt stating the wood of which the guitar is built from – even if one sells the instrument privately. Moreover, one stands in the accountancy duty at the nature conservation authorities (I.e. also every continuance change (sales) must be announced with the officials).
Read more - what is CITES?