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Ivory Bill receives Royal Assent

Thursday 20 December 2018

Today, the Ivory Bill gained Royal Assent and became the Ivory Act 2018. The Government believes that tighter controls on trading ivory will go some way to curtailing the threat to elephants from poaching. The legislation is not expected to come into force until late in 2019 due to challenges around practical implementation.

A DEFRA spokesman told NAVA Propertymark:

"Time is required to make sure the ban can be implemented effectively and robustly. Secondary legislation is required to do this, an online registration system needs to be developed and guidance to be issued. It is critical that all of these elements are in place before the ban can be put into effect.”

Once commenced, the Act will:

  • Introduce a ban on dealing in items containing elephant ivory, regardless of age, within the UK, as well as export from or import to the UK
  • Create defined exemptions
  • Establish boundaries to allow trade in exempt items
  • Introduce enforcement against those breaking the ban, in the form of fines and imprisonment.

What are the exemptions?

  • Items with less than 10% ivory by volume, made prior to 1947
  • Musical instruments with an ivory content of less than 20%, made prior to 1975
  • Portrait miniatures made before 1918
  • Sales to and between museums accredited by Arts Council England, the Welsh Government, The Scottish Government or the Northern Ireland Museums Council in the UK, or, for museums outside the UK, The International Council of Museums
  • The rarest and most important items of their type. This category allows trade in outstanding items of artistic, cultural or historic significance made prior to 1918: "Such items will be subject to the advice of specialists at institutions such as the UK’s most prestigious museums"

Defra Minister, Lord Gardiner of Kimble said:

“The department has undertaken extensive consultation with a broad range of stakeholders, including the music sector, the antiques sectors and all the sectors engaged, as well as NGOs interested in conservation, to shape the Bill and, in particular, to establish a narrow and carefully defined set of exemptions.

“I recognise that the arts, antiques and music sectors make a valuable contribution to the success of the UK’s economy– the government is keen to ensure a smooth and successful operation of the new online registration system.

“We will ensure clear communications on this issue with small and large businesses and industry organisations.” 

 NAVA Propertymark will continue to seek clarity on practical implementation and support members to understand the rules and their consequences.