What is the de minimis exemption?

The de minimis exemption applies only to items made from African elephant ivory. The African elephant 4(d) rule provides an exemption from prohibitions on selling or offering for sale in interstate and foreign commerce for certain manufactured or handcrafted items that contain a small (de minimis) amount of African elephant ivory. To view examples of items that may meet de minimis criteria, click here.

 

To qualify for the de minimis exception, manufactured or handcrafted items must meet either (i) or (ii) and all of the  criteria (iii) – (vii):

(i)  If the item is located within the United States, the ivory was imported into the United States prior to January 18, 1990, or was imported into the United States under a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) pre-Convention certificate with no limitation on its commercial use;

(ii)  If the item is located outside the United States, the ivory was removed from the wild prior to February 26, 1976;

(iii)  The ivory is a fixed or integral component or components of a larger manufactured or handcrafted item and is not in its current form the primary source of the value of the item, that is, the ivory does not account for more than 50 % of the value of the item;

(iv)  The ivory is not raw;

(v)   The manufactured or handcrafted item is not made wholly or primarily of ivory, that is, the ivory component or components do not account for more than 50 % of the item by volume;

(vi)  The total weight of the ivory component or components is less than 200 grams; and

(vii)  The item was manufactured or handcrafted before July 6, 2016.

What types of ivory items are likely to qualify for the de minimis exemption?

Only African elephant ivory items may qualify for the de minimis exemption. This exemption is not available for Asian elephant ivory. When we proposed the 200-gram limit we had a particular suite of items in mind. The following types of items may qualify for the de minimis exception:  many musical instruments (including many keyboard instruments, with ivory keys, most stringed instruments and bows with ivory parts or decorations, and many bagpipes, bassoons and other wind instruments with ivory trim); most knives and guns with ivory grips; and certain household and decorative items (including teapots with ivory insulators, measuring tools with ivory parts or trim, baskets with ivory trim, walking sticks and canes with ivory decorations, and many furniture pieces with ivory inlay, etc.). However, to qualify for the de minimis exception, all of the above criteria must be met (either (i) or (ii) and (iii)-(vii)). To view examples of items that may meet de minimis criteria, click here.

What types of ivory items are not likely to qualify for the de minimis exemption?

Asian elephant ivory items do not qualify for the de minimis exemption. This exemption is not available for Asian elephant ivory. Examples of African elephant ivory  items that we do not expect would qualify for the de minimis exemption include chess sets with ivory chess pieces (both because we would not consider the pieces to be fixed or integral components of a larger manufactured item and because the ivory would likely be the primary source of value of the chess set), an ivory carving on a wooden base (both because it would likely be primarily made of ivory and the ivory would likely be the primary source of its value), and ivory earrings or a pendant with metal fittings (again both because they would likely be primarily made of ivory and the ivory would likely be the primary source of its value).

How do I demonstrate that my ivory item meets the criteria to qualify for the de minimis exemption?

To qualify for the de minimis exemption, an item must be made of African elephant ivory and must meet the criteria provided above. We consider an item to be made wholly or primarily of ivory if the ivory component or components account for more than 50 percent of the item by volume.  Likewise, if more than 50 percent of the value of an item is attributed to the ivory component or components we consider the ivory to be the primary source of the value of that item. Value can be ascertained by comparing a similar item that does not contain ivory to one that does (for example, comparing the price of a basket with ivory trim/decoration to the price of a similar basket without ivory components). Though not required, a qualified appraisalor another method of documenting the value of the item and the relative value of the ivory component, including, information in catalogs, price lists, and other similar materials, can also be used. We will not require ivory components to be removed from an item to be weighed. To view examples of items that may meet de minimis criteria, click here.

What does 200 grams of ivory look like?

A piece of ivory that weighs 200 grams is slightly larger than a cue ball. The 200-gram limit is large enough to accommodate the white key veneers on an 88-key piano. Click here for photographs of ivory items of various weights. **NOTE: The items in these photographs would not qualify for the de minimis exception because they are made wholly of ivory. These photographs are only intended to illustrate the size of 200g of ivory. To qualify for the de minimis exception, an item would need to meet all of the criteria listed above. To view examples of items that may meet de minimis criteria, click here.