Musical Instruments Included on New Lacey Act Implementation Schedule

Effective April 1, 2010, all shipments of imported pianos and other stringed instruments (e.g., guitars and violins) will have to be accompanied by a declaration listing, among other things, the scientific name (genus and species) of all wood and other plant material used in the imported product, as well as the country of origin of the wood. Specifically, any imported product subject to Harmonized Tariff Schedule Chapters 9201 and 9202 ( is subject to the new disclosure requirement.

The disclosure and declaration requirements for certain musical instruments was announced on September 2 by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), a unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. APHIS is the lead agency implementing the federal Lacey Act, which was amended in 2008 to make it a federal criminal offense to import, sell or hold any product containing wood or plant material that was harvested in violation of any law in its country of origin. APHIS and the Customs and Border Protection Agency prefer that the import declaration form be filed electronically, although a printable paper form is available on the APHIS Web site at An importer is not permitted to list “unknown” in the answer for scientific name or country of origin, but must make an educated guess if the actual answers are not known.

The Lacey Act amendment also requires the import declaration to be filed at the time of importation, but APHIS has implemented a phased-in enforcement schedule, which heretofore has excluded musical instruments.

As part of its notice adding pianos and stringed instruments to the import declaration list, APHIS also announced it was seeking public comment (through November 2, 2009) on whether to add other products, including wind musical instruments (in HTS Chapter 9205), to the list beginning on or after September 1, 2010.

The law currently covers all imported musical instruments, regardless of the size of the shipment (e.g., importation of a single piano or guitar is covered) and when the instrument was manufactured.  NAMM has been working with a coalition of business organizations and environmental groups to seek relation of the import declaration requirements to exempt all products manufactured prior the summer, 2008 effective date of the Lacey Act amendments, including vintage instruments.

Further information on the new declaration requirements can be obtained from Jim Goldberg at or Mary Luehrsen at