Canadians Traveling to Europe with Violin

January 10, 2017 at 09:33 PM · Hello, I did a little bit of research in regards to traveling to Europe, because i will be in the summer for work/school for up to 3 months. The following things I am trying to explore:

0. I was able to get CITES certificate because the nut, crown on heel and saddle of my violin may be made of ivory. I was never successful in checking if the parts are ivory, but I was able to get CITES certificate as discussed here:

1. Getting on board the airplane from Canada. Laurie Niles gave us a very helpful blog: which I find very helpful, but I am wondering if there is a Canadian version for this. It would be a nice addition to this forum if someone has already explored and wish to share their information.

2. I am a graduate student, and I am traveling to Switzerland, France, Germany and UK for my research part of my studies. I am required to get traveling insurance with someone such as Blue Cross for health insurance, which I am partially covered along with Veterans Affairs Canada, but what is not covered is my violin. I would like to shop around for insurance on my violin, if you have specific recommendations please feel free to share here. I am most afraid of the violin getting stolen.

3. Boarding the airplane back to Canada. Similar to point 1, except not bound by Canadian Flight laws. I would like recommendations and pointers at the right direction to ensure that I can return with my violin intact.

Replies (32)

January 10, 2017 at 09:58 PM · Hi,

If you are flying out from Canada, getting to the gate early, and explaining things about your instrument should be helpful in getting it on-board. I am not sure about Europe though. I know that instruments cannot be taken on-board flights out of England, so if you have a flight or connecting flight through London, that will be a problem. Best recommendation is to check with the airlines that you are flying with as well as the various policies at different connecting points.

For the insurance... The only company I know of is Clarion.

Hope this helps and that you have a good and safe trip; both you and your instrument!


January 10, 2017 at 10:50 PM · Yikes, I do believe I will be making the return trip from England, near Cambridge University.

January 10, 2017 at 11:50 PM · Here is an example on AlItalia's web page:

Despite of that, I had to show the print-out and ask for a manager when their officer refused to allow me to carry my violin on-board. Make sure to know your rights and get prepared. Moreover, inquire about any connection flights, because those planes may be smaller than inter-continental ones.

January 11, 2017 at 12:28 AM · Have travelled many times Air Canada to France and back with my violin. No problems in either direction, just some some friendly banter about playing a few tunes from the flight attendants. I make sure to carry a shaped case (Gewa Air 1.7) that looks violinistic and doesn't take up much room in the overhead. Getting to the gate early is always a good idea.

One of my bows has an ivory tip but nobody ever questioned it. My household insurance policy covers the violin & bow, but if you wish to avoid the deductible, they have to be specified in the policy, and there is a small annual charge for this.

January 11, 2017 at 12:29 AM · I fly regularly out of England. Never had a problem taking my instrument on board.

January 11, 2017 at 05:02 AM · As of recently, ivory up to 200 grams total is allowed on instruments and bows, as of about January 9th or so. The ivory is not questioned in regards to age or origin either, but now the endangered rosewood is raising flags instead (so watch out for the next few months).

Source: My luthier, Jaime Weisenblum, who got a call from the Association of what's it's name. :)

January 11, 2017 at 11:45 AM · I was surprised by the statement above about 200 grams of ivory, and found the following article which provides more detail:

The situation seems much more complex, e.g. an exemption only applies to ivory sourced from an African elephant (not Asian elephants), and only then if it was sourced before 1976.

January 11, 2017 at 01:05 PM · I asked about such Restrictions in early January, but my luthier told me that any ivory was fine (since it cannot really be independently verified).

Will confirm when I get back in a few days. :)

January 11, 2017 at 08:17 PM · Haven't had any problems with bows with ivory tip flying to Holland with stop overs at Heathrow or Frankfurt. No one even looked at it. No problems with putting the violin in the overhead bin; it is an old Jaeger case fairly flat. I usually get an exit seat and can pre board.

Heard that Ryan Air makes an issue about violins in overhead bins.

January 11, 2017 at 09:15 PM · Christian, does Clarion cover Canadians?

Parker, I was looking into household insurance + musical instrument. The policy specified the damage to the violin IFF the violin was damaged within the house due to fire, water etc. does your insurance apply to traveling and outside?

January 11, 2017 at 10:30 PM · Steven, I have it listed as an item in the household policy, as one might do with jewelry and other valuables, and was assured that the violin was covered for theft and damage when travelling. I had to supply photos of the instrument and bows and a letter of evaluation from the luthier.

January 11, 2017 at 10:41 PM · Hi,

Steven: I don't know about Clarion's current policy, you would have to call them up and see.

Household policies for instruments depend on the situation. If the instrument is used in a professional capacity, then it is not covered. Don't know about other situations.

As for flights out of London, England, maybe it has changed, but several of my soloist and chamber music colleagues have had issues in the past. Some of them even used to take the high-speed train to Paris to fly-out to avoid problems at some point when playing in London. It may have changed, but would be worth checking with the airlines one is using to avoid issues.


January 11, 2017 at 10:48 PM · Parker, that's the thing, the insurer I was in contact with didn't even request a photo or anything along that line. It's almost as if "we want money from you, and pretend to cover what you keep there." I recall talking to a neighbour how much of an issue she had getting some companies to pay for water damaged goods saying that she couldn't prove that the damages happened at given time/location and etc.

January 12, 2017 at 12:39 AM · Steven, we had pretty good treatment from Chubb when there was a leak which damaged my wife's upright piano irreparably. There was a bit of negotiating but we were fully reimbursed and replaced the piano with one just as good. I assume they would give similar treatment if my violin were damaged or stolen while travelling. They told me it was covered while I was In France. If you write me at the email address on my profile I can give you more information and you can talk to their agent. We're both in Ottawa I think..

January 12, 2017 at 09:22 PM · An insurance company I really can recommend you'll find at It includes worldwide converage for a reasonable price. The only point is, you'll need a little bit of german language. The whole process works online and is very convenient, and they do accept international customers. (As am I...)

January 12, 2017 at 10:23 PM · Hi Steven, I recently (Sept-Oct 2016) flew to Italy from Victoria BC and back with my violin as a carryon instrument. No problem at all. I even got primary boarding due to Air Canada's new policy. I flew with both Air Canada and Lutheran. Within Italy, I used their train system and that was very convenient and reasonably priced. I believe the policies regarding luggage are likely governed by specific airlines so you should contact the airlines to find out what their policies are.

February 21, 2017 at 07:47 PM · I have just found over the phone that Lufthansa "can not guarantee" that violin will be accepted as carry-on luggage on flights from Canada.

I spoke to 2 customer support representatives and 1 manager. The message is consistent: max allowed is 55 x 40 x 23 cm. There could be an exception, but they can not guarantee it. In other words, it depends on the decision at the airport (literally case-by-case basis).

If there are German contributors to this site, please let me know if the policy is different in Germany/Europe.

Update: KLM & Air France allow for carry on if "linear inches" (the sum of depth, width and length) does not exceed 43 or 109 cm.

This eliminates all of my violin cases.

February 21, 2017 at 08:46 PM · It's the same in Germany / Europe, but if you avoid bringing other hand luggage with you, and it's a "normal" violin case, there usually will not be any problems. But, unfortunately, no guarantees...

February 21, 2017 at 08:46 PM · Seems to be the same on the German webpage:

Wenn die Außenmaße des Instrumentenkoffers die zulässigen Gesamtmaße für das Handgepäck (55 x 40 x 23 cm) nicht überschreiten, kann das Instrument problemlos mit in der Kabine befördert werden. Ansonsten gelten für die Beförderung von Musikinstrumenten besondere Bedingungen. Bitte informieren Sie sich hierüber rechtzeitig bei Ihrem Lufthansa Service Team.

As you were told, max measures see above, otherwise special conditions for instruments apply which you have to find out by contacting their service team. They do not list those special conditions.

February 21, 2017 at 09:35 PM · Vielen Dank!

This must have been a recent change, since I had travelled with Lufthansa before with no issues whatsoever.

Air Canada does allow violins, but is in "alliance" with Lufthansa and other carriers - which in essence makes it a moot point. (No AC flights both ways and/or connect fligths)

All of this leaves us with only AlItalia and Jet Airways

February 22, 2017 at 11:56 AM · I often fly with my violin within Europe and to Canada, and despite the printed policy, Lufthansa has been nothing but helpful to me with my instrument, even suggesting I preboard on an overbooked flight to make sure the fiddle was put away safely in the overhead. In a pinch, my case actually fits under the seat. It's just over 76 cm long, which may be slightly shorter than standard case measurements (Musafia Superleggero oblong), and it's a tight fit, but definitely a good last resort when the flight attendants are worried about space.

I've also flown out of London Heathrow and London City without any problems within the past six months. There have recently been issues with British Airways on the Amsterdam-London route, but they didn't affect me when flying BA to Frankfurt.

I can only echo other comments: keep hand luggage to a minimum aside from your instrument case and get through check-in and to the gate on the early side. Good luck!

February 24, 2017 at 07:48 PM · Megan,

I will take my chances with Lufthhansa and report after I return.

In the meantime, all wee need is Dimitri to come up with a solution like this:


March 16, 2017 at 03:24 AM · Recently, I've semi-confirmed that I will be in Switzerland in mid-late May till early-mid July, and to England till mid-late July.

I am currently shopping for a one time traveler's insurance(which would be reimbursed). Emergency Medical expense is covered under student insurance, but I do really want an insurance for the violin.

I will be making a phone call to local insurance broker with Chubb.

March 16, 2017 at 02:35 PM · My violin's insured by Allianz - have a look here:

March 17, 2017 at 05:22 AM · I might have bought myself 7-10 days vacation time while in between Swiss to U.K assignments.

During that time, I intend to travel with:

I'm being told that I will be rooming in a Hostel(with a roommate I know and trust) with no AC in Swiss, then a shared flat/dorm room(with a roommate I know and trust) probably with no AC in U.K.

I should make a decision soon as to either insure and carry my violin, or leave it behind.

I've gone a few seasons without AC with my violin, it wasn't quite an issue, but I will still intend to ask my luthier to inspect for seams/potential issues before and after the trip. Shared flat/room make me concerned for security. Not that I believe my roommate would steal my things, more of negligence as to them forgetting to lock, or having broken in.

I should also ask, how bad is theft in Europe(in particular Switzerland, France, Germany, England. Exclusively at universities/colleges)?

I will not be traveling light, as I intend to carry enough to last 2 months overseas. I've gotten a lesson not looking vulnerable by carrying too much.

March 17, 2017 at 10:21 AM · Well, violins have been coping perfectly well in Western Europe with no air conditioning for getting on for 500 years, so yours will probably be fine as well. ;)

And regarding theft - on the whole the UK and Switzerland are no more dangerous than Canada, and also on the whole thieves are more likely to go after phones, cameras or laptops than violins (And violins are easier to recover if stolen). However, a lot depends on location and the nature of the property you're staying in. People at the universities you're going to be staying at will be able to tell you more. An Oxbridge college has different security standards to a poorly-designed dorm block in a dodgy part of Manchester ;)

March 17, 2017 at 04:12 PM · I have not had any issues carrying my violin on-board during my recent Lufthansa flight from Toronto to Frankfurt.

March 18, 2017 at 09:05 PM · Please make sure to obtain "Identification of articles for temporary exportation" from CBSA before leaving Canada. It is issued free of charge and all you need is the proof of purchase or other valid document (certificate if origin). You will be asked to show your instrument and bow on site.

March 21, 2017 at 03:47 AM · I've made the decision to leave my violin behind. In fact, I may even put a stop in it for a few years until my studies are finished.

March 21, 2017 at 10:58 AM · That is sad news to hear Steven. I enjoyed reading the posts of your new old violin Soccia ? and about your new Jon Paul how. Violins and violas are so hard at times.

March 21, 2017 at 12:46 PM · Why not buy a cheaper 'travel' violin to take with you ? Many violinists have such an instrument.

March 21, 2017 at 08:59 PM · I'm having some personal issues, and right now, violin isn't bringing me happiness, and I'll be damned if I had it broken or stolen while overseas.

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