Customs warns ivory import ban in place

MANNHEIM, Germany – U.S. members should not buy elephant ivory while stationed or vacationing overseas, customs officials advise.
Imports of ivory into the United States are prohibited under the Endangered Species and the African Elephant Conservation acts.
The ban applies to unprocessed ivory tusks and to worked ivory pieces such as carved figures, jewelry or piano keys.
However, exceptions exist for the following:
Q bona fide antiques more than 100 years old which can be imported with a valid permit
Q African elephant ivory that the owner registered with U.S. Customs, before leaving the States, that is being re-imported
Q African elephant ivory items acquired before Feb. 4, 1977, when accompanied by a valid permit.
There are also no restrictions on the import of ivory from the extinct elephant-like mammals known as mastodons.
Owners of items partially or totally made from mastodon ivory should obtain a statement of origin from the manufacturer stating that the article is mastodon ivory, not subject to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, Title 16 US Code. Failure to present such a statement could cause delays in border entry.
“People who have bought ivory overseas or who did not register their ivory with customs are obviously in a bind,” said Michael Burkert of the European Com-mand’s Customs and Border Clearance Agency. He advises people to write to the Fish and Wildlife Service and try to get an import permit.
Ivory acquired abroad that is not properly documented can be confiscated when it arrives in the U.S. Customs will not refund the purchase price and can fine the owner.
For more information on ivory and other endangered species visit or to obtain a permit visit http://permits.fws.go v/.
(Courtesy of U.S. European Command Customs and Border Clearance Agency)