The pre-Spanish cultural heritage plays an important role in Peru. At the end of the 19th century, buildings erected before the Spanish conquest were declared national monuments. Since then, they have been subject to special protection.

What is considered cultural property in Peru?

According to Article 1.1 of Law No. 28296 of 2004, movable cultural property includes collections and individual items of zoology, botany, mineralogy and specimens of paleontological interest; goods of historical value; archaeological finds; monuments and sites of archaeological, historical or artistic value; inscriptions, medals, coins, documents, ancient weapons and musical instruments of historical or artistic value; ethnological material; goods of artistic interest such as paintings, sculptures, musical compositions and poems; manuscripts, Incunabula, ancient books, printed and handwritten documents, photographs, negatives and publications of particular interest due to their historical, artistic, scientific or literary value; stamps of philatelic interest; objects and ornaments of liturgical use, candelabra.

What are the export regulations?

According to Article 33 of Law No. 28296, there is a general ban on the export of movable objects that are part of the ‘cultural property of the nation’. Article 34 defines some exceptions: Movable cultural property can be temporarily executed in special cases for exhibitions and for scientific, artistic and cultural purposes. This also applies to investigations and restorations that cannot be carried out in Peru. Temporary export is also possible for at least one year. An extension for another year can be applied for once.

What sanctions are there?

According to Article 228, illegal exports and the destruction of ‘cultural property of the nation’ are punishable by imprisonment of three to eight years and a fine of 180 to 365 per day.

Chronology of cultural property protection laws

  • 1822
    EDecree No. 89
    All archaeological remains are national property; export of archaeological pieces is prohibited; establishment of the National Museum; sanctions are imposed.
  • 1893
    Decree No. 600
    All pre-Hispanic buildings are declared national monuments; archaeological excavations require a special license; foundation of the Antiquities Commission
  • 1911
    Decree No. 2612
    Amendments to Decree No. 600; imposition of sanctions
  • 1912
    Resolution No. 1529
    Approval and establishment of conditions for conducting archaeological excavations for Hiram Bingham in Machu Picchu; permission to export the found objects to Yale University and the National Geographic Society of New York
  • 1916
    Resolution No. 31
    Export license for archaeological finds to Yale University and the National Geographic Society of New York; repatriation of the objects
  • 1921
    Decree of June 11
    Restrictions on archaeological excavations and the export of antiquities; imposition of sanctions
  • 1929
    Law No. 6634
    Archaeological sites are declared historical monuments; expropriation of land; private ownership of antiquities is recognized; establishment of the Patronato Nacional de Arqueología; imposition of sanctions
  • 1971
    Legislative Decree No. 18799
    Establishment of the National Institute of Culture
  • 1979
    UNESCO 1970 Convention
    Means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property
  • 1985
    Law No. 24047
    The category ‘cultural property of the nation’ is introduced; the formal recognition of a good as cultural property of the nation is necessary to be protected by the state; imposition of sanctions
  • 1989
    The Hague Convention of 1954
    Protection of the cultural property of countries in the event of armed conflict
  • 1991
    Legislative Decree No. 635
    Addition of another chapter (TÍTULO VIII) to the Criminal Code
  • 1994
    Law No. 26282
    Preservation and protection of the archaeological site of Sipán are assured.
  • 2004
    Law No. 28296, last updated 2020
    Inclusion of cultural property that has not yet been recognized as ‘cultural property of the nation’; rights and obligations of owners are established; establishment of the National Register of Cultural Property and inclusion of underwater cultural property
  • 2005
    Hague Convention, Second Protocol of 1999
    Clarification and extension of the 1954 Hague Convention
  • 2006
    Law No. 28778
    Return of Yale University's Machu Picchu Collection to Peru