The UK government wants to ban the sale and export of almost all ivory items.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced a consultation to end the trade in ivory of all ages – previous attempts at a ban would have excluded antique ivory produced before 1947.
The government says there will be some exemptions, for musical instruments and items of cultural importance.
Conservation groups have given a guarded welcome to the plan.
A 12-week consultation on Mr Gove’s proposals is due to start immediately, and draft legislation covering a ban on sales and exports is likely in the new year.
Britain will host a major illegal wildlife conference in 2018 and it would be embarrassing if the UK was continuing to allow a domestic market in ivory while countries like China were moving to close theirs as they have promised to do by the end of this year.