National Jeweler Network

Public Policy & Issues

Ban on elephant ivory effective immediately

March 18, 2014

New York--The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has implemented what is essentially a comprehensive ban on the commercial trade of elephant ivory, which comes as part of the White House’s new strategy for combating wildlife trafficking. The ban is effective immediately.

According to the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, the ban means:
--All commercial imports of African elephant ivory, including antiques, are prohibited.
--All commercial exports are prohibited, except for antiques, certain non-commercial items, and in exceptional circumstances permitted under the Endangered Species Act.
--To qualify as an antique, an item must be more than 100 years old and meet other requirements under the Endangered Species Act. The burden is now on the importer, exporter or seller to demonstrate that an item meets these criteria.
--All sales of ivory across state lines are banned, except for antiques. Sales within a state are also banned, unless the seller can demonstrate an item was lawfully imported before 1990 for African elephants and before 1975 for Asian elephants.
--Individuals are limited to importing two African elephant sport-hunter trophies per year (this was previously unlimited.)

Meanwhile, current rules for Asian ivory will remain in place.

Asian elephant ivory trade is permitted, with proper permits from and declaration to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, only if it has been established as an antique or if it’s pre-convention--meaning it was removed from the wild before June 14, 1976, has not been commercially held and is accompanied by a pre-Act affidavit. Pre-convention Asian elephant ivory can only be sold intrastate.

The White House first announced last month that it would implement a ban on the commercial sale and trade of elephant ivory, saying that it was the best way to help ensure that U.S. markets don’t contribute to the further decline of African elephants in the wild.

Questions on current imports and exports of plant and wildlife products can be directed to Sara Yood at or by visiting the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s website.