No doubt you’ve heard about CITES, but you may not know exactly what it is or how it impacts your guitar purchases.

What is CITES?

CITES stands for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. In short, they’re in charge of conservation efforts relating to international trading. They make sure that if people are trading things across borders that they’re doing so in an eco-friendly, sustainable way.

How does this relate to guitars?

CITES is not new, but they’ve recently made a change that impacts one of the most popular woods used in guitars: Rosewood (and a few types of Bubinga too, but that’s not as much of a problem).

They’ve decided to start regulating the international trade of specific types of rosewood in order to protect endangered woods.

What if I own a guitar with Rosewood?

If you’re an owner of a guitar containing Rosewood, you’re likely not going to be impacted by owning or selling it. The only time you should be concerned is if you plan on selling that guitar across borders.

If you want to sell or buy a guitar internationally you are legally required to apply for a certificate, pay the application fee, and wait for the certification. It takes additional time and money in order to complete the transaction legally.

Can I take my Rosewood guitar with me on tour?

Yes, you can. You’re allowed to take rosewood across borders without issue, you just can’t buy or sell it across borders without going through the application process. You can take a substantial amount of Rosewood across borders (about 22lbs), so you’ll have no problem taking dozens of backup guitars on your world tour.

What if my guitar needs to be repaired – do I need a certificate to ship it to the manufacturer?

Each country has their own rules on this, but some allow for you to ship your guitar for repair/return/refund to the manufacturer without issue, others require paperwork. Your best course of action is to contact the manufacturer and they’ll help you navigate the legal requirements.

To make a long story short, it’s not the end of the world. The average person will not be impacted by these changes. If you want to order guitars from another country you may have to pay additional money and go through some paperwork. Otherwise, unless you’re moving hundreds of guitars across borders for some reason, you’re in the clear!

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