Find out if your ivory item may qualify for the pre-1918 outstandingly high artistic, cultural or historical value exemption, how to apply and what to do if it is refused or revoked.
If you think your item qualifies for exemption as a pre-1918 item of outstandingly high artistic, cultural or historical value, you can apply for an exemption certificate using the ‘Declare ivory you intend to sell or hire out’ service.
Applications cost £250. This fee is non-refundable.
To meet the pre-1918 outstandingly high artistic, cultural or historical value exemption, you need to demonstrate that your item was made or existed before 1918 and has outstanding artistic, cultural or historical value.
This exemption is designed to be narrow and apply only to those items that are significant to wider society. It does not consider any personal, sentimental or financial value that may be attached to an item.
You cannot deal (buy, sell or hire) in items containing or made of elephant ivory under the Ivory Act 2018, unless they are:
- registered under a standard exemption
- certified as a pre-1918 item of outstandingly high artistic, cultural or historical value
Assess whether your item meets the pre-1918 outstandingly high artistic, cultural or historical exemption
To find out if an item was made or existed before 1918, you need to assess its age.
To help you decide if an item may be of outstanding high artistic, cultural or historical value, you should consider 2 factors:
- whether the item is rare
- the extent to which the item is an important example of its type
You only need to demonstrate one of these factors to meet this condition, but if you have evidence to support both factors then you should submit this information as part of your application.
Whether your item is rare will likely depend on:
- the estimated number of similar items that exist, including how many are in the UK
- how unique the item is, which may include distinctive or unusual features or historical adaptations
Whether your item is an important example of its type may depend on:
- artistic or aesthetic quality – it is of particularly high quality or by a named artist, school or studio
- craftsmanship – it is particularly well-crafted or shows a specific, notable form of craftsmanship
- condition of the item – it is in pristine or much better condition than similar items of its type
- its significance – it is an integral part of a noteworthy collection, for example, an artistic collection put together by a well-known individual
- noteworthy provenance – it is closely associated with a specific individual or event, for example, it was once owned by a well-known historical figure
- significant historical context – it is closely associated with a specific historical, artistic, social, cultural, religious, scientific or technological development
- significant geographic context – it is closely associated with a specific place or region
- previously recognised status – the status of the item has been recognised, for example, it has received a prestigious award, been recognised as a national treasure (by meeting the Waverley Criteria) or been part of a noteworthy exhibition
You should support your application with an explanation and evidence of why you believe the item is, either or both:
- a most important example of its type
Each item is assessed by recognised experts from a prescribed institution who will advise the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) on whether an exemption certificate should be granted. It is expected that a very high threshold will be set to decide whether an item meets these criteria.
If any given information is not accurate, the applicant or owner could be subject to a fine of up to £250,000 or 5 years’ imprisonment.
What to include in your application
In your application, you will need to include information about how the item meets the exemption criteria and provide supporting evidence.
Description of the item
You must provide a detailed description of the item and any distinguishing features. In your description, you should also provide background information about the item and its provenance, including:
- where and when it was made
- the artist, or maker
- the item’s artistic style
Explanation on why the item meets the exemption
You must explain why the item meets the exemption’s criteria of being rare, an important example of its type, or both. You should provide evidence that supports your explanation.
For example, you could explain if the item has been displayed in a museum, cited in an academic work, or give evidence of its provenance or historical associations.
You should attach any documents that support your application.
Photographs of the item including any distinguishing features
You must provide a photograph of the item that shows any distinguishing features. When the photograph shows only part of the item, you must also provide a photograph of the entire item.
Your photographs should:
- be recent
- be clear
- be in colour
- show the item from different angles
Unless they support your application, avoid submitting black and white photographs, or photocopies of photographs or brochures, of the item.
Your application will be assessed based on the information and supporting evidence you provide. It is your responsibility to make sure your application:
- is clear
- is complete
- is accurate
- demonstrates how the item meets the criteria for this exemption
- provides all supporting evidence
If there is insufficient information or explanation as to how your item meets the criteria, APHA may decide to refuse an exemption certificate.
As long as you’ve taken all reasonable steps to find out, you can answer no to the below questions in the application process if you do not know whether your item:
- already has an exemption certificate
- has a revoked exemption certificate
- has a previous application for an exemption certificate
If you’re able to provide a reference number for a previous unsuccessful application or a reference number for a revoked exemption certificate relating to the item, APHA will send the new application to a different expert, if one is available.
What happens after you apply
If your application is complete and the information submitted meets the requirements of the Ivory Act 2018, APHA will refer your application to an expert assessor at a prescribed institution. APHA will determine which institution to refer it to for advice based on the type of item.
However, if APHA consider that your item clearly does not meet the exemption criteria, they may decide that it does not require expert assessment and refuse your application.
The prescribed institutions are all accredited museums with significant experience of working with ivory. They represent a range of specialisms consistent with the range of ivory items likely to be covered by this exemption.
The prescribed institutions are:
- the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology
- Glasgow Museums
- the Horniman Museum
- Manchester Museum, the University of Manchester
- the National Maritime Museum
- National Museums Scotland
- the Royal Armouries Museum
- University of Cambridge Museums
- the Victoria and Albert Museum
After reviewing your application, the expert may decide that a physical inspection of the item should be made. In this case, APHA will contact you to make the arrangements.
After the assessment, APHA, acting on behalf of the Secretary of State, will decide, taking into account the expert advice, whether or not to award the exemption certificate. If your application is unsuccessful, we will tell you why. The item can only be legally sold or hired out once it has been awarded an exemption certificate.
APHA will aim to let you know the outcome of your application within 35 working days. You will be told if it is going to take longer.
The opinion of the expert cannot be relied on for any purpose other than the expert assessor’s statutory function under the Act.
If your exemption certificate application is refused or revoked
If your item is refused an exemption certificate or your exemption certificate is revoked, you can make a new application, or appeal to the First-tier Tribunal.
Make a new application for an exemption certificate
Making a new application costs £250. You can do this using the ivory service.
You will need to include the reference number of the unsuccessful application or the revoked exemption certificate relating to the item so that APHA can send the new application to a different expert, if one is available. If you do not know the reference number, you can answer no to the question asking if the item has a revoked exemption certificate or if a previous application for the item has been made, if you have taken all reasonable steps to find out.
Where the new application is referred to a different expert, APHA will provide that expert with:
- a copy of the previous assessment relating to the item
- a copy of the reasons for the revocation (if the application relates to an exemption certificate for an item that has been revoked)
Where an application for an exemption certificate has been refused or an exemption certificate revoked, the owner of the item can ask APHA to disclose:
- the opinion of the assessor and the reasons for forming that opinion, as notified to APHA
- the identity of the prescribed institution to which the item was referred
When APHA disclose an expert assessor’s opinion or the identity of the prescribed institution, APHA must notify the prescribed institution to tell them what has been disclosed. APHA will disclose the opinions and identity of the expert to the person who made the application within 7 days, starting from the day APHA received the request for disclosure.
Selling your certified item of outstandingly high artistic, cultural or historical value
An exemption certificate, once awarded, will accompany an item when ownership of that item is transferred. The owner should pass on the exemption certificate to the purchaser. For example, this could happen at the point of sale or when the buyer takes delivery of the item.
If you want to sell or hire out your item and it already has an exemption certificate that was awarded to someone else, you must notify APHA that you want to sell or hire out the certified item using the ‘Declare ivory you intend to sell or hire out’ service and pay £20.
You will also need to:
- provide your contact details (including an email address, if you have one)
- provide the name and address of the item’s owner, if the applicant is not the owner
- confirm whether the item is going to be sold or hired (if known)
- declare that the exemption certificate relates to the item that is going to be sold or hired
- declare that the information on the exemption certificate remains accurate and complete
- declare that the item continues to satisfy the conditions of being of outstandingly high artistic, cultural or historical value
If you are a new owner of an ivory item that already has an exemption certificate, but you do not intend to sell or hire it out, you must contact APHA to update your details as the new owner by emailing email@example.com
You do not need to pay to update your details.
Keeping an exemption certificate up to date
You must contact firstname.lastname@example.org if:
- something happens to the item or you find out something about the item that means it may no longer be exempt
- something looks wrong on your certificate
You must quote your certificate number in your email.
Request a replacement exemption certificate
You can contact email@example.com to request a replacement exemption certificate if:
- the certificate has been lost
- you have been unable to get the certificate from the previous owner
To replace a certificate you can contact APHA with the certificate number, or if that is not available, the name of the previous owner and a description of the item. APHA will try to locate the certificate and send you a copy.
How to appeal
You’ll be provided with details of your rights to appeal. You can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal against our decision to:
- refuse your application for an exemption certificate
- revoke an exemption certificate
You can appeal our decision if you think that it was:
- based on an error of fact
- wrong in law
For example, if you:
- believe that not all the information you provided in the application was taken into account, causing APHA, on behalf of the Secretary of State, to make an error of fact
- disagree with the rationale for the decision and believe it to be unreasonable
Process for appeal and First-Tier Tribunal powers
The First-tier Tribunal is independent and will listen to both the person making the appeal and APHA’s representations before it reaches a decision.
The Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (General Regulatory Chamber) Rules (2009) (SI 2009/1976) set out many aspects of tribunal procedure. This includes:
- how you should lodge an appeal with the First-tier Tribunal
- how affected parties will be notified of the appeal
- specific documents the First-tier Tribunal needs
- the deadline for making an appeal to the First-tier Tribunal
If you want to appeal, you must send a notice of appeal to the General Regulatory Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal within 28 days from the date that you were sent the decision to refuse or revoke an exemption certificate.
All affected parties will be notified about the appeal, for example, the person making the application to the First-tier Tribunal and APHA.
Send a notice of appeal
To start an appeal, you must send a notice of appeal to the tribunal. This is a document that starts proceedings. The tribunal procedure rules explain what the notice of appeal must include.
Your notice of appeal must also include:
- documents and evidence specified in section 3(1)(a) to (g) of the Ivory Act, including the information and evidence originally provided to APHA in the application for an exemption certificate
- a copy of the notice sent to the applicant detailing the decision to refuse or revoke the exemption certificate
If an owner makes an appeal to the First-tier Tribunal, the tribunal may:
- confirm APHAs decision to refuse the application or revoke the exemption certificate
- require APHA to issue an exemption certificate or cancel the decision to revoke an existing exemption certificate
- refer the decision to refuse or revoke the exemption certificate back to APHA for reconsideration
Appeals against the tribunal’s decision
You can appeal against the decision of the First-tier Tribunal on a point of law, you can do so with the permission of the First-tier Tribunal. This is only if the tribunal has not already decided to review its own decision.
If permission is refused, you can renew the application for permission to the Upper Tribunal.
Appeals referred to APHA
If the court or tribunal refer a decision back to APHA, APHA will notify you of their fresh decision within 28 days starting from the date of the order or direction from the court or tribunal. If the decision is referred back to APHA, they will:
- Refer back the application to an expert in a prescribed institution within 7 days starting from the date of the order or direction.
- Consider the fresh opinion and notify you of the fresh decision within 28 days from the date when APHA receives the expert assessor’s opinion.
After an appeal is made
If you have made an appeal to the First-tier Tribunal against your item’s exemption certificate being refused or revoked under section 5(1)(a) of the Act, you cannot make a new application for an exemption certificate for the relevant item until that appeal is determined.
If an appeal is unsuccessful, you can make a new application for the same item. In making a new application you will have to pay a £250 fee. If your item is refused an exemption certificate for a second time, you can also appeal that decision.
In certain circumstances, APHA may decide not to oppose the appeal sent to the First-tier Tribunal. The appeal would then be treated as if it was in your favour and there’s no need for the First-tier Tribunal to hear it. If APHA decide not to oppose an appeal, they would grant an exemption certificate or reinstate the exemption certificate in question, within 28 days of making the notification.