Import of cultural property into the Netherlands
The trade in cultural property has increased significantly in recent years, and that is why there are regulations for the purchase of (art) objects abroad. The brochure Import and Export of Cultural Property from the Information and Heritage Inspectorate contains more information regarding this topic.
Purchasing cultural property abroad and importing it into the EU and the Netherlands
When purchasing an object abroad, it is important to verify the national regulations regarding the export of cultural property of that country. Not all cultural property can be exported without the permission of the authorities, as it might be legally protected. It could also have been stolen or looted. This means that you could find yourself in a difficult situation, as there can be severe penalties in relation to the illegal export of cultural property. Furthermore, the objects can be confiscated by Customs on arrival in the Netherlands
What should you do when importing cultural property to the Netherlands?
When you want to purchase an object which you suspect is part of the cultural property of that country, you should first consider if this is permitted.
Your rule of thumb should be: if an object is more than 50 years old there is a chance that it cannot be taken out of its country of origin. Check whether the seller is known to be reliable. Photograph the object. Ask the seller for written information, certificates and other statements, and verify their authenticity. Consult authorities: for example:
- The Customs, National Museum and/or Ministry of Culture of countries that the object may have come from of where you are considering acquiring an object
- Interpol’s database of stolen works of art
- UNESCO database for heritage laws