European Union

The Member States are not only actively committed to the protection and preservation of Europe's heritage. They also prohibit, by law, the illegal import, export and trade of cultural property from third countries.

What is considered cultural property in Germany?

A license is required for the export of cultural property from the European Union. This authorization may be refused if the cultural property concerned falls within the scope of legislation protecting national cultural property of artistic, historical or archaeological value of the Member State concerned.

What are the export regulations?

According to the German Act on the Protection of Cultural Property of 2016, the export of cultural property is prohibited in various cases: if a procedure for registration as nationally valuable cultural property has been initiated for the object and has not yet been decided on; if there is no export license; if the cultural property was unlawfully imported into Germany, or if it was secured on suspicion of unlawful import or export. In addition, exports are prohibited if they violate European Union regulations.

What sanctions are there?

The penalties are determined and implemented by each Member State.

Chronology of cultural property protection laws

  • 1992
    Council Regulation (EEC) No 3911/92 of 9 December 1992 on the Export of Cultural Goods
    Control over the export of cultural goods at the external borders of the European Community is harmonized.
  • 2003
    EU Regulation (EC) No 1210/2003 – Iraq
    Prohibition of imports, exports and trade in certain Iraqi cultural goods in the European Economic Area
  • 2009
    Regulation (EC) No 116/2009 on the Export of Cultural Goods
    Ban on the illegal export of cultural property from the economic area of the EU to third countries
  • 2013
    Council Regulation (EU) No 1332/2013 (extract)
    Amendment to Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012 – EU-uniform rules for a ban on imports, exports and trade in cultural property from Syria
  • 2014
    Directive 2014/60/EU
    Directive concerning the return of cultural property unlawfully removed and amendment of Regulation (EU) No 1024/201 (amended version)
  • 2019
    Regulation (EU) 2019/880 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Introduction and the Import of Cultural Goods
    Protection of cultural property from third countries against illegal importation into and marketing in the internal market. Cultural goods that have been illegally exported from countries of origin outside the EU may not be brought into the EU. The import of European cultural goods is still possible.