Selling Ivory

New federal and state regulations make it harder than ever to sell ivory. The buyer and seller will bear the burden of proving that the ivory fits the new, narrowly defined class of legal ivory. There are different criteria for sale of African and Asian elephant ivory under U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service laws. We can help you determine which kind you own, and whether it meets the strict, multi-part definition of “antique.” We will help you meet the federal and state requirements.

Since February 25, 2014, it has been illegal to sell or buy worked elephant ivory that does not:

A. Have a valid Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) certificate.

B. Come with documentation that it entered the United States through one of the designated ports.

C. Fulfills the criteria of “antique” under the Endangered Species Act.

One of the main stated purposes of the law is to: “reduce sales, including interstate and intrastate sales (i.e. sale within a state) of elephant ivory.”

But the law is more convoluted—and onerous-- than the few bullet points above, and evolving. Clarifications, explanations, and exceptions are still being issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“On July 6, 2016, a near-total ban on commercial trade in African elephant ivory went into effect in the United States.“ “It’s important to note that the new regulations do not restrict personal possession of ivory. If you already own ivory – an heirloom carving that’s been passed down in your family, or a vintage musical instrument with ivory components, those pieces are yours. We know those items created long ago aren’t threatening today’s wild elephants.” US Fish and Wildlife Service

“Under Federal law, you can sell your African elephant ivory within your state (intrastate commerce) if you can demonstrate that your ivory was lawfully imported prior to the date that the African elephant was listed in CITES Appendix I (January 18, 1990). This documentation could be in the form of a CITES pre-Convention certificate” US Fish and Wildlife Service

Laws in California, New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey are even tougher than the federal ones.

Ivory Experts are qualified appraisers whose documentation will be accepted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We are highly experienced in determining the date and place of the creation of ivory carvings, and demonstrating the legality of your ivory convincingly to the exacting standards of agency officials.

Please email us for more information about our services and how we can help you in this new, challenging regulatory environment: