UPDATE: Changes have been made below to the original post to clarify certain details about the import and export of musical instruments that were made using endangered species.
As individual musicians and orchestras make their plans now for the summer touring season, many face the distinct possibility are concerned that their rare and antique instruments may be confiscated when the musicians travel abroad or return to this country they cross international borders. That's because an international convention called CITES prohibits places restrictions on the import and export of musical instruments made from endangered materials like ivory, sea-tortoise shell, and Brazilian rosewood, among others. Enter an unlikely musicians' friend: the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which announced today that it will propose issuing "musical passports" that would permit international transport of such instruments made before the prohibitions were enacted.
This would be a huge relief to musicians with such instruments as vintage guitars and violins, as well as ivory-keyed pianos, since they currently have to file lengthy and complicated import and export forms every time they travel, for each and every country visit. If the proposal passes (and a FWS spokesperson seemed optimistic at a press conference today), musicians will be able to get an actual passport for their instruments, complete with a physical description on one page and spaces for entry stamps on another. The musical passports would be valid for three years. The proposal is expected to be made at a CITES conference in Thailand on March 3.
This post was updated February 26, 2012.
Mark Orwoll is the International Editor of Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter.