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Just before Christmas 2018, the UK government passed through the Bill confirming the ban on the sale of all ivory (with exceptions). This bill passed into law in 2022 and it is now illegal to sell ivory in the UK, with some exceptions.

There are various exemptions from the Ivory Act and a quick run down of these is as follows:

  • Items with only a small amount of ivory. Such items must be comprised of less than 10 per cent ivory by volume and have been made prior to 1947.
  • Musical instruments. These must have an ivory content of less than 20 per cent and have been made prior to 1975.
  • Portrait miniatures. A specific exemption for portrait miniatures – which were often painted on thin slivers of ivory – made before 1918.
  • Sales to and between accredited museums. This applies to 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. Items of outstanding artistic, cultural or historic significance, and made prior to 1918. Such items will be subject to the advice of specialists at institutions such as the UK’s most prestigious museums.

At this point, it is still be legal for you to own any ivory items in your possession and you will be able to give these away or pass these onto your descendants by inheritance. 


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