the voice of The woman on the phone changed within a second. She sighs, she moans. “Then,” she says, and makes a pregnant Pause, “it’s complicated.”

the woman on The phone is to perform no Operation, no rocket launch. You should carry an item for me. The measures 154 x 141 x 70 inches – so it’s pretty big, weighs about 300 kg, and a piano is black:. My Piano. Ever since I can remember, belongs to a black Bechstein Grand piano to my family in Germany. Due to a budget resolution, I have to bring it to Switzerland.

it is Actually quite simple, thought I: a good move, tidy zag declare, done. But it is not. The reason: the heirloom ivory keys. And that’s exactly why the woman on the phone, the pregnant Pause.

ivory is one of the most protected goods in the world. Legal, the is get barely. Elephants are banned in spite of hunting for their valuable tusks slaughtered – in Africa alone, annually around 20’000 animals are poached. The Problem is that ivory can still earn money, which boosts the demand. The authorities want to know exactly when the ivory is transported where.

A large piano for the little lady

This also relates to my piano. The last owner of my mother Susanne, who is unfortunately already deceased more than 20 years ago was. She grew up with her grandparents in Stuttgart. Her grandma – my Great-grandmother, Maria – and their live-in partner, a former train driver, bought the piano in the 60s for the little lady. Later, it was in our living room, until I with the tip of the nose up to him – and then, in addition, grew.

it’s allowed To my piano over the border, explains to me the woman on the phone now, I need to two authorities: For the export of the office for nature conservation, Bonn (BfN) is responsible for the import of the counterpart in Bern. German authorities speech that sounds like this: “application of the species protection law permits of species listed in annexes A and B of the regulation.” Or in short: form 221.

The Piano mover with the woman, the fear that he may be complicated, the piano on its former location in the Swabian picked up and stored “Yeah, well for us in the hall,” said the woman good-naturedly. And then: “We’ve also had a case, since the permits have taken a year.”

form 221 want to specify that I want to describe the specimen, the Net weight of ivory, as well as its origin. I don’t even have a clue as to how old the piano is. So to 100 years, appreciate my father. On an inscription in the body of sound of the Pianoforte factory of C. Bechstein is: “. Court supplier of his Majesty the Emperor and king.”

A call to the BfN. After a few days I reach the competent clerk. I describe to her the situation. She advises me to contact me with the serial number of Bechstein.

My Piano is a proud 150 years old!

I put an official request in the case of Bechstein. A long-established Berlin company, which was founded in 1853, between the Revolution and the Empire, in Berlin. “Are you sure this is the correct serial number?”, mail me the head of the relevant Department. “Because then the piano would be at 28. November 1873 (so, twenty years after the founding of the company) in Berlin has been delivered. The recipient’s name I can’t decipher, unfortunately.” For safety, he sends the Trade extraction. The piano is actually 150 years old!

The BfN clerk surprised just like me. You can be a photo of the piano send. “Such a beautiful Instrument!”, she raves about. And in the event of proven 150 years ago you need not be so long making out. Within a week, the export permit is in my mail box.

all of a Sudden it will fix

With the approval from Germany, it is also the case of the Swiss authorities is comparatively fix. The import permit from the Federal food safety and veterinary comes at the end of February. I’m surprised the Piano mover also. “Then you need to clarify how we declare it,” says the woman on the phone. From the “just” are, however, two more months.

music instruments that you want to bring in Switzerland, you must declare with seven per cent of the value. Only Exception: Household Goods. You must rein, however, within a period of 24 months. I came for my master’s degree is already three and a half years in Switzerland. At the time, I didn’t know yet that I will stay after the completion of in Zurich. Let alone that I have the space for the piano. I beg the authorities, but: no Chance.

How much is my heirloom worth, I can tell no one. After 80 years, a piano is considered to be depreciated. Maximum it still has antique value. And that can hardly be quantified. The Problem is that The customs would like to have still a number. Otherwise, the customs officials can set easily at its sole discretion, a value – and the would probably to my favor.

I clamp up behind the phone. A music house presents me a certificate, that the piano is worthless. A logistics specialist, prepared the necessary papers for the Transporter, speaks then with the customs. In the end, I give 800 francs, and write the sum in a so-called “self-invoice for customs purposes”.

Never a piano with ivory keyboard, says the woman

As the beginning of may, everything is ready, comes the panicked call to the woman, the feared already at the very beginning that it would be complicated. The import permit expires, namely – what none of us knew. Fortunately, the Swiss authorities are accommodating. I must, however, send the original permit back before I can be issued a new one. Which is, of course, long been the carrier. Sends you to Bern. Berne issues a new permit, and send them to me. I will send in turn to the carrier.

at the beginning of June two strong men finally rolling the piano on a Board in the apartment. You grab it, heave it in the corner. Within two minutes the thing is done. I’m honestly taken.

Almost six months, has this good piece: family, Transporter, authorities. And now it stands there, as if it had never stood anywhere else than right here between the vacuum cleaner and card games.
Long the joy lasts. Only a week later, the Transporter rings on my cell phone storm: The Swiss customs had the delivery without inspection by a veterinarian (!) at the airport (!) sent.

The piano has to be picked up again and to the Zurich airport brought, before the final move. The woman feared that it might be complicated, sounds done. “Never again,” she vows. “Never again will we be transporting a piano with ivory keys.”