Export Licences

When do you need an export licence?

This depends on the thresholds for value and age for the particular category of cultural property. The same thresholds apply in all EU Member States. The object to be exported must be the property or in the lawful possession of the person who intends to sell, use or exhibit it in a country outside the EU.

These thresholds apply not only to goods being permanently exported to a country outside the EU (for example for sale), but also to goods being temporarily exported, for restoration or for exhibition in a museum or at an art fair.

An export licence applies to all forms of transport used to cross a border. Even if you take cultural goods with you in your baggage or send them through the post, a licence may be required.

For example: to export a 60-year-old drawing to a country outside the EU with a value of €20,000 a licence is required, because the value threshold for drawings (category 5) is €15,000 and the age threshold is 50 years.

The brochure Import and Export of Cultural Property provides more information on, e.g., the categories of cultural property concerned, the corresponding international Customs codes, the financial value, and age thresholds for each category. Furthermore, Council Regulation (EC) No 116/2009 on the export of cultural goods also provides more information.

When is an export licence not required?

You do not have to apply for an export licence when the financial value or age of a cultural object is under the threshold that applies to its specific category. Customs officials may however ask you for evidence, such as invoices, expert reports and insurance documents. If necessary the Central Licensing Office for Import and Export (CDIU) in Groningen (of the Tax and Customs Administration of the Ministry of Finance) can give you or your representative a written statement showing that no export licence is required for your property.

No export licence is required for transport of cultural property within the EU, except in the case of objects covered by the protective legislation of the Netherlands or another Member State. Such objects may be exported only by special permission of the owner or, in the case of the Netherlands, of the Minister of Education, Culture and Science.

Musical instruments

Musical instruments that are more than 50 years old and have a value of more than €50.000 need an export licence. Professional musicians who frequently travel with their instruments outside the EU can obtain a Specific Open Licence, (Specifike Open Vergunning, SOV) which is valid for five years. Since October 2012 it is also possible to apply for a licence under the name of the institution that is the owner of musical instruments, such as an orchestra or the Nationaal Muziekinstrumenten Fonds (Musical Instruments Fund).