Guitar Seized by UK Customs - No Import License

Discussion in '"Vintage" Instruments' started by TEMAS, Nov 15, 2019.

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  1. TEMAS

    TEMAS Member

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    So today I had some really bad news and I am writing this to try and make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else and to hear any advice.

    After saving up for months I found a 60's guitar on Reverb and bought it for about $4000 / £3200. The Reverb store shipped the guitar with no CITES document and I was then told by UPS it would be held until a CITES document was issued by the vendor. The vendor issued the CITES and stated that the fretboard was made of Brazilian Rosewood. I was then asked for an import license, which I don't have, because I didn't know I needed one. UPS told me to phone CITES, who said they would not issue a retrospective license and they told me to phone Borderforce, who have now seized the guitar because I illegally imported it without an import license.

    I'm now waiting for the documents to be sent telling me they have the guitar and it will probably be destroyed. The anger has already passed and I'm now just very upset and embarrassed. How could I have been so naive and ignorant? But am I the only one to blame for this? Why are Reverb allowing international purchases of items that will be seized? Why did the vendor not ask if I had an import license?

    Please go easy on me.
     
  2. Blix

    Blix Supporting Member

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    You can't blame neither Reverb or the vendor IMO, this is 100% on you unfortunately. It's your responsibility to have the right licence in order.
     
    simon_62, derekd, wilto and 1 other person like this.
  3. Bluzeboy

    Bluzeboy Gold Supporting Member

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    first of all you don’t know what you don’t know.
    Have you contacted Reverb? What did they say?
     
    Gibson Dog, caffeiniac, bobmc and 2 others like this.
  4. skydog

    skydog Supporting Member

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    When you say ‘Reverb store’ are you referring to Reverb/CME, or a seller on Reverb?
     
  5. TEMAS

    TEMAS Member

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    I will update Reverb on the situation and if I am unable to appeal against the Borderforce decision I will pursue a refund, although something tells me I'm the sucker here.
     
  6. sonhenry

    sonhenry Member

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    Yeah, CITES paperwork is really complicated and hard to navigate and confusing to get. You need that export and import paperwork in order until the musical instrument exemption goes into effect at the end of this month I believe.

    But I don't see how that's on Reverb....
     
  7. TEMAS

    TEMAS Member

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    A seller on Reverb who has a store.
     
  8. skydog

    skydog Supporting Member

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    Can they request the instrument be returned to them?
     
    simon_62, Comanche5 and NamaEnsou like this.
  9. Blix

    Blix Supporting Member

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    It's Brazilian rosewood, the CITES exemption doesn't apply to braz.
     
    derekd and chumbucket like this.
  10. Funky54

    Funky54 Member

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    I’m not a store.. I’m a guy who enjoys guitars. I see one for sale, I pay for it...and I have to have some special li sense and crap? That is ridiculous. $4000 is a LOT of money. They may destroy a historical vintage guitar? I’d be in jail by now.
     
  11. TEMAS

    TEMAS Member

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    I've been told that won't be possible.
     
  12. TEMAS

    TEMAS Member

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    I understand and respect the need for the regulations. I just wish some common sense could be applied in this situation, like allowing me to apply for a retrospective license and returning to sender.
     
  13. Funky54

    Funky54 Member

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    That’s a great and humble attitude, but gotta admit I’m clueless why it’s needed. Is it to protect tree poaching or illegal deforestation?
     
    woof* likes this.
  14. skydog

    skydog Supporting Member

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    I'm a bit confused; you (buyer) need an import license, but they (seller) don't need an export license?
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2019
  15. tdougherty

    tdougherty Member

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    I imported a rosewood fretboard strat from the US into Canada this fall. It's probably got Indian rosewood board, or something similar, but it most certainly does not have a Brazilian Rosewood fretboard. It needed a CITES certificate but there is a loophole in the law that says if you personally carry the guitar across the border, and it's for personal use only, then it can be imported with no certificate. I'm in Canada, not too far from the US border, and so I went into the US to get the guitar myself and bring it across the border.
    Before I imported the guitar, I did a lot of research (and so did the vendor) and discovered that to get a CITES certificate for a regular kind of rosewood fretboard guitar is a hassle, but possible. However, to get a CITES certificate for a Brazilian Rosewood guitar is all but impossible.
    I wouldn't even begin to dream of importing Brazilian Rosewood guitars from one country to another.
    By the way, I was initially going to ship the guitar using UPS. I called them and spent some time on the phone asking about CITES certificates. They were completely unfamiliar with the rules surrounding these kinds of Certificates and told me that they could ship the guitar with no certificate and no hassles. The Canadian Government official I spoke to told me otherwise. I'm very glad I didn't take the UPS advice.
    Apparently the laws about importing regular style rosewood between the US and Canada are changing in the near future to make it easier for instrument makers to get raw materials, but Brazilian Rosewood, because it's considered an endangered species, will still be all but impossible to import from one country to another.
     
  16. Bluzeboy

    Bluzeboy Gold Supporting Member

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    This is my confusion as well. I was under the impression that in the EU the seller was responsible for the documentation (made before 2017) and the licensing.
     
    John Quinn, Man with Gas and skydog like this.
  17. TEMAS

    TEMAS Member

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    Can anyone confirm if a '67 Epiphone Riviera actually would definitely be Brazilian and not Indian?
     
  18. skydog

    skydog Supporting Member

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    @TEMAS Would you mind posting a link to the original Reverb listing?
     
  19. skydog

    skydog Supporting Member

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    That's why I asked the above!
     
  20. TEMAS

    TEMAS Member

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    I'm not sure if I should at this stage. I'll PM it to you. Cheers
     
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