#130418  by Winterland
 Sat Jul 20, 2013 9:27 am
Hello all.

I need some help here. I have a guitar that was shipped in from overseas and is now held in Louisville KY for questions regarding the Lacy Act. I have to call on Monday and was wondering if anyone dealt with this type of issue before. The Lacy Act has to do with exotic wood etc. I think most luthiers (sp) may know something or two. Any input would be helpful
 #130420  by playingdead
 Sat Jul 20, 2013 10:56 am
If it has woods on it that are banned -- Brazilian rosewood is the most common one in question -- then you may have a problem. Even if they think it might be Brazilian, the burden of proof is on the shipper to document exactly what it is. When I import guitars from overseas, the builder furnishes the Lacey Act paperwork that details exactly what kind of wood species is in the guitar and how many grams it weighs.

Unfortunately, once they get their mitts on a guitar, the paperwork needs to be in order. It's scary, too, because if you can't prove that it is not a banned wood, they can confiscate and destroy it, and no insurance will cover that if the guitar is determined to be illegal and seized as a result.

It's also possible that the US Fish and Wildlife service has snatched it, and you may need a license to import it; they require that now if the guitar has any sort of abalone or other shell inlay on it. I had to get a license for that, as well. A hassle. You have to document the kind of shell it is with the scientific name, and the weight in grams. Then they inspect it. It can take weeks to get the frigging license, too; FedEx was able to expedite the license for me as I use them as my import/export agent, and luckily the builder had the information they wanted. If you're not operating as a business, not sure what the process may be.

Not for the faint of heart, unfortunately. Hope it works out for you!
 #130436  by gr8fullfred
 Sun Jul 21, 2013 8:18 am
The trick here is to very careful about bringing a valuable guitar OUTSIDE the country, and then trying to bring it back in. Do not do this with a valuable instrument. Even if you are correct, your guitar is legal, it is a nightmare to recover from the Feds.

I believe if the guitar is already inside of the US, you can get paper work to make sure you can bring it back in. (never done this, not sure about it).

Bottom line is that you do not want to export an expensive guitar, hoping to re import it.

See the gibson seizure thread. The trick is to avoid this situation completely, do not export expensive instruments, unless you are sure you can re import them.

It can and will be a total night mare dealing with the Feds if you are seized, do not allow yourself to fall into this trap.

There is also a grandfather date, if your guitar is older than X you are, or should be OK.
but then again, it is not worth it to risk being entangled with the Feds.
 #130440  by playingdead
 Sun Jul 21, 2013 5:12 pm
Actually, in June of this year the USDA clarified the Lacey Act to allow musicians *carrying instruments as part of their personal baggage* to re-enter the country with the guitar without furnishing paperwork.

This does not apply, however, to guitars that are being shipped from outside the US into (or back into) the US, nor for guitars shipped from the US to other countries. The problem is not generally shipping OUT of anywhere (US included), it's entering the country it's bound for and how diligent (or bored) the Customs agent happens to be. They may look at every single guitar. They may not look at any. It's a crap shoot.

It is true that instruments past a certain age would be grandfathered and okay to import, yet the burden is still on the shipper to document the instrument's age to the Feds. Even a Martin guitar from 1926 with Brazilian rosewood back and sides could be at risk if you can't document the build date to the Feds' satisfaction, or, say, prove that any more recent repairs to the instrument did not involve a banned wood. It's anything on the guitar ... shell, a bone nut or saddle, pickguard, etc.

If you don't have the correct paperwork, you should be very careful trying to import any guitar into the US ... and it's the responsibility of the seller (or shipper) to have the correct documentation, or to warn you that you are taking a risk trying to get it into the US and that the responsibility for the loss would ultimately be yours to bear. Shipping insurance (FedEx, UPS, USPS) will not cover such a loss, and my business insurance won't, either, it's specifically excluded.

I am very upfront with overseas customers about these things. But even as a dealer, with an EIN# and import/export licensing, I've encountered some headaches. Caveat emptor ...
 #130455  by Winterland
 Mon Jul 22, 2013 6:40 am
I spoke with UPS and they said that it is an electric and that it should clear. I will be holding my breath. It may have to do with the fact that I am an individual and not a dealer. I also purchased it from an individual.
 #130506  by Winterland
 Tue Jul 23, 2013 1:01 pm
Ok...I got the freaking guitar today! I spoke with UPS. The customs person said that as long as it was an electric guitar it was fine.
They can ask for details such as wood type, amount of finish and what type of inlay. If you can't produce documents they can destroy it.
They suggested to call the shipping company you are using prior to shipping to help walk you through the process. This way it gets flagged and they know it is pre screened. Thank you guys for the input. By the way it is a Phiga Wolf. It is incredible. What a work of art.