World

US proposes ‘musical instrument passports’

BANGKOK — Musicians, take note: Next time you travel abroad, you might need a passport — for your instrument.

Delegates attending a global biodiversity conference in Bangkok this week are debating a US proposal to streamline international customs checks for travelers with musical instruments that legally contain endangered wildlife products such as exotic hardwoods, ivory, or tortoise shell.

The goal is to ease travel by doing away with cumbersome import and export permits and to ensure legal instruments aren’t confiscated, said US Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe, who is leading Washington’s delegation to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in the Thai capital.

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The proposal is expected to be voted on as early as Friday. If approved, travelers would be able to carry a ‘‘musical instrument passport’’ valid for three years.

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The convention framework was signed in 1973 to ensure the survival of the world’s flora and fauna by regulating international trade in threatened species. About 35,000 species are presently protected.

Concern over the issue within the US music industry rose sharply in 2011, when federal agents raided the factories and offices of Gibson Guitar to seize what they said was illegal ebony wood shipped to the guitar maker from India.

After the raids, ‘‘people started raising serious questions about their instruments,’’ Ashe said this week.