Musical Instrument Exemption Included in Government Consultation on Ivory Ban

You may have seen in the media recently, that the Government has issued a 12 week consultation on a proposed total ban on the export/import and sale of ivory.

The Musicians’ Union (MU) supports this bold stance to limit elephant poaching.

The good news is that the proposals from the government contain four exemptions:

  • Musical instruments
  • De minimis
  • Items of artistic, cultural or historical value
  • Allowing the continued sale of ivory to museums


The MU has been working closely with the Association of British Orchestras (ABO), the Music Industries Association  (MIA) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to ensure a musical instrument exemption is in place.

You may recall that we asked members for information on any instruments they own that contain ivory, the date of the instrument manufacture, and the amount of ivory they may contain.

The responses we received were very helpful in supporting evidence that the ‘de minimis’ amount of less than 20% and 200 grams being proposed is reasonable – providing we can secure an agreement to allow for musical instruments that may contain more than 200 grams, but less than 300g of ivory, such as a set of bagpipes with ivory rings.

The MU will be responding to the consultation.

If you have not yet provided us with evidence regarding your instrument and would like to please send the following information:

  • Instrument
  • Date of manufacture
  • Amount of ivory or description of how the ivory is used
  • Value of the instrument


Please send this information to Dave Webster, MU National Organiser for Live Performance, no later than Friday 1 December 2017 via

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