Ivory Act 2018

The Ivory act covers ivory items of all ages, not just those produced after a certain date. By covering ivory items of all ages and adopting narrow exemptions, the UK’s ban will be one of the toughest in the world. The maximum penalty for breaching the ban will be an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail.

The exemptions include:

  • Items made before 1947 which comprise of less than ten per cent ivory by volume. The ivory must be integral to the item as a whole, i.e. removing it would be difficult or damage the item.
  • Musical instruments with less than 20 per cent ivory content which were made prior to 1975. This is when Asian elephants were added to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
  • Portrait miniatures painted on thin slivers of ivory made before 1918 with a surface area of no more than 320cm2.
  • Rarest and most important 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'.
  • Commercial activities to, and between, museums which are accredited by the Arts Council England, Welsh Government, Museums and Galleries Scotland or the Northern Ireland Museums Council. Museums outside the UK must be accredited by the International Council of Museums .

On 4 July 2018, the Government announced that it will consult on extending the scope of the Ivory Bill. Items made from animals listed as 'vulnerable' to extinction on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, may be included in the Bill following the consultation. An amendment to the Bill has also been brought forward to include ivory from all animals, not just those protected by CITES.

It is an extraordinary achievement to have passed this Act of Parliament. The Ivory Act is a landmark in our fight to protect wildlife and the environment. The speed of its passage through Parliament shows the strength of feeling on all sides of the House on this critical issue.

The UK has shown global leadership and delivered on a key commitment in the 25 Year Environment Plan. We are determined to end this insidious trade and make sure ivory is never seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol.

Michael Gove MP Environment Secretary
16 Jul 2019
Fact sheet: Ivory Act 2018

The purpose of the ivory Act is to prohibit commercial activities concerning ivory in the UK and the import and re-export of ivory for commercial purposes to and from the UK. This includes intra-EU trade to and from the UK.

10 Oct 2017
Border Force amnesty scheme

We have partnered with Border Force on an initiative to responsibly remove ivory and other endangered species items from circulation. Participation in the scheme demonstrates your support for various initiatives to preserve endangered wildlife.

Representing our members

In October 2017, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) opened a consultation seeking views on banning UK sales of Ivory and evidence of the effect a change could have. There were more than 70,000 responses to the consultation, with over 88 per cent of responses in favour of the ban.

21 Dec 2017
Banning UK Sales of Ivory

In our response, to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs consultation on Banning UK Sales of Ivory, we outlined that the Government should focus on enforcing and closing any loopholes in the current legislation instead of a total ban on ivory.

Related news

12 Oct 2021
Ivory ban: UK Government responds to consultation

The UK Government will be using information provided by findings of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) consultation to bring forward secondary legislation to implement the Ivory Act 2018.

10 Jun 2020
Court of Appeal rules Ivory Act 2018 is lawful

The Court of Appeal has upheld the decision of the High Court that the Ivory Act 2018 which prohibits ivory dealing with very limited exceptions is lawful and does not contain unlawful trading restrictions.

07 Nov 2019
High court ruling upholds Ivory Act

Antique dealers have failed to overturn a total ban on ivory trading being introduced by the Government after the high court ruled the legislation did not breach European law.

15 Oct 2019
Queens speech outlines banning imports from trophy hunting

On 14 October 2019, new legislation was announced in the Queen’s speech to protect the welfare of animals [Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill], which includes banning imports from trophy hunting.

09 Oct 2019
The Ivory Act — what it means for you

Propertymark has five unique fact sheets covering everything you need to know about the Ivory Act, including exemptions, and enforcement. The Act received Royal Assent on 20 December 2018. DEFRA expects the legislation to come into force in late 2019.

20 Feb 2019
Chinese ivory smuggler jailed in Tanzania

A prominent Chinese buisnesswoman, dubbed the 'Ivory Queen', has been sentenced to 15 years in jail this week, after being found guilty of smuggling hundreds of elephant tusks.

Image attribution: "Michael Gove Official MP Portrait" used under CC BY 3.0 / Cropped from original