Information on CITES
CITES – also known as the Washington Convention (Wikipedia) – is an international program for the protection of plant and animal species.
At the 18th meeting of CITES signatory countries (August 2019), certain exceptions were agreed for "finished musical instruments", "finished components for musical instruments" and "finished equipment for musical instruments" if these are made of or contain wood of the following species:Dalbergia spp. (rosewood) and the three bubinga varieties Guibourtia tessmannii, Guibourtia pellegriniana and Guibourtia demeusei. This means that we can return to selling most of our instruments in future without CITES permits,as they will not be required. Only the two rosewood subspecies Dalbergia nigra and Dalbergia cochinchinensis will retain their protected status. In the European Union, these changes will only come into force upon publication of the amended annexes to Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97. The date of publication is as yet unknown.
Until such time, the current rules on import, trade within the EU and export from the EU remain applicable.
Notwithstanding our joy over the relaxation of regulations for musicians, we would like to remind you that the rules set out in CITES Appendix II are not a pointless bureaucratic obstacle - the species of wood mentioned are, if not yet threatened with extinction, endangered at the very least and should therefore retain protected status. Please consider this when you choose your next instrument and choose conscientiously.
Endangered species of wood
In autumn 2016, a number of species of wood which are used in the production of musical instruments (e.g. drum sets, orchestra instruments, guitars, as well as accessories such as conductors' batons) among other industries were included in the list of threatened species. Among these were some species of bubinga and rosewood, such as the so-called African rosewood variety. Since January 2017, these species have therefore been subject to strict import and sales regulations, with which we naturally fully comply.
Musical instruments often contain only a few grams of such wood, but since CITES does not recognize minimum thresholds, every item containing even a single gram of a threatened species of wood is affected - even if said wood has been sourced from a certified sustainable grower.
Side effects for musicians
Since Jan 02, 2017, the sale and export of products containing CITES materials has been severely restricted and subject to significant red tape. Every instrument which is imported into the EU must be registered and approved by the authorities. As our customer and the owner of such an instrument, you must be able to produce this special approval document when required, for example if you decide to sell your instrument on at a later date.
You can register items you have previously acquired with your local authority. In order to do this you only need to show the invoice for your product, which you can download at any time from our customer centre. This will suffice as written proof that the instrument or piece of equipment was bought before January 02, 2017, i.e. before the materials contained were classified as endangered.
Deliveries into non-EU countries require a complicated and sometimes lengthy approval procedure. This may delay delivery by several weeks and may cause further fees in the recipient's country. Please make sure you understand the relevant rules in your country before making a purchase.
Setting an example
There are plenty of reasons to complain about politicians and regulations, but there are also good reasons to set an example every now and then and do the right thing, for example where the protection of our environment is concerned.
As soon as the content of the convention for the protection of endangered species became public, we at Thomann began to replace the endangered varieties of wood in our own-brand products (e.g. Harley Benton guitars) with alternative materials.
We were also the first dealer in Europe to implement the strict documentation and export regulations right on time on January 02, 2017 and we are now striving to make instrument manufacturers aware of the importance of moving on to regenerative and sustainable materials for their instruments.
However: on our own, we will not succeed in our efforts! As a musician, you can use your wallet and your voice to make sure that manufacturers take this topic seriously and search out alternatives. You can let manufacturers, the media and other retailers know that you believe in the importance of sustainably produced equipment.
We know that there will always be individual pieces where the manufacturers cannot use other materials without negatively affecting the sound or the way the instrument plays. But if we focus on the exceptions and lose sight of the rule, we will never change anything.
Thank you very much for your understanding and for your support.
We're looking forward to hearing from you and aim to solve any problems as soon as we can.