Import and export of cultural objects

Published by:
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Do you want to import or export cultural objects? In some cases these objects may not leave their country of origin, or may only do so with official permission from the local authorities. You may need an official permit. Also, sanctions may apply.

Examples of cultural objects are:

  • art
  • archaeological objects
  • antiques

The Information and Heritage Inspectorate (Inspectie Overheidsinformatie en Erfgoed) oversees the import and export of cultural objects.

Importing cultural objects

Do you want to import cultural objects? Do these objects come from outside the European Union into the Netherlands? You must keep to the rules that exist in the country of origin on the export of cultural objects. You must demonstrate that you have checked if the goods are cultural property. Cultural property cannot be exported without official permission.

There are severe penalties for the illegal export of cultural property. Furthermore, the objects can be confiscated by Customs on arrival in the Netherlands.

Exporting cultural objects

If you want to export cultural objects from the Netherlands, you need a licence if you export them to a country outside the European Union. However, this only applies to cultural objects over a certain value and age. Please contact the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration, Central Import and Export Service (Centrale Dienst voor In- en Uitvoer, CDIU) to request an application form for an export licence. The Information and Heritage Inspectorate determines if the licence may be issued.

If you want to export cultural objects to a country inside the European Union, you do not need a licence. You may need official permission, for example when you want to export cultural or national heritage.

Sanctions on the import and export for cultural objects

In some countries the import and export of cultural objects is (partly) prohibited. For the following countries sanctions apply:

Extending export license for cultural objects

Did you export cultural objects with a licence for temporary export? In some situations it may not be possible to get these objects back in time. You can apply for an extension of your export licence by contacting the CDIU. Make sure you apply in time to meet your obligation for reimportation.

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