Transfer of cultural property

With the internal market of the EU the outside borders became more important and a control system was introduced in 1992 for temporary or permanent export of specific categories of cultural goods via a licensing system.

Since 2009 the Netherlands is also bound to mondial regulations: the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, more commonly known as the 1970 Convention which aim is the prevention of the loss of cultural heritage and illicitit trafficking.

It is prohibited in the Netherlands to import or have in one’s possession cultural property that was taken after 1959 from an occupied territory during an armed conflict. The 1954 UNESCO Convention and its (First) Protocol became legally binding in the Netherlands in 2007, with the adoption of the Cultural Property (Return from Occupied Territory) Act. This Act has retroactive effect to 1959, when the Netherlands became a party to this Convention. 

Role of the Cultural Heritage Inspectorate

The Cultural Heritage Inspectorate (Erfgoedinspectie) supervises compliance with the heritage laws and promotes improvements on the care and management of cultural heritage and its proper handling; this supervision is not restricted to Dutch cultural property.

The Cultural Heritage Inspectorate is also the competent authority for European legislation, for the 1970 and 1954 UNESCO Conventions and its (First) Protocol, and for the Sanctions Orders against Iraq and Syria. With these legal instruments it is possible to take measures regarding the unlawful removal of cultural property from other Member States of the European Union (EU) and of the UNESCO States Parties, or to start a return procedure.

Further information

More information regarding the conditions for cross-border movement of cultural heritage can be found in the brochure, Import and Export of Cultural Property, or on our web pages concerning import and export.