BANGKOK – International travel will be easier for owners of musical instruments made from protected species following the approval for “passports” at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

According to news sources, the 178-member committee agreed this week to create certificates of ownership for affected instruments made prior to when the individual species trade restrictions were put in place. Valid for three years, the multi-entry passports are for personal-use musical instruments and cannot be transferred. In addition, the musical instrument must “be securely marked or otherwise appropriately identified” with the information included on the certificate for verification.

The U.S. delegation's proposal addressed the problems associated with “cross-border movement” by musicians, orchestras and other institutions that own musical instruments incorporating CITES-listed species, such as rosewood and ebony. “The need to issue a separate CITES document for each international border crossing has also presented an administrative burden for the issuing Management Authorities,” the document said.

Various media have noted support for the proposal by the National Association of Music Merchants, League of American Orchestras, American Federation of Musicians, as well as other groups. The issue of moving items which incorporated protected species gained national attention following the 2009 and 2011 raids on Gibson Guitar for violations of the Lacey Act, which includes plants and wildlife protected by CITES.

Developed as an international agreement between governments, CITES ensures that international trade in specimens of animals and plants does not threaten their survival. There are more than 30,000 species protected under CITES.