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Export of cultural goods

Export of cultural goods



Regulation (EC) No 116/2009 on the export of cultural goods


To protect European cultural goods, it seeks to ensure that uniform controls are performed upon their export outside the customs territory of the European Union (EU) with the help of export licences.


The regulation provides rules for the export of cultural goods with a view to their protection. It ensures that uniform controls are carried out on these exports at the EU’s external borders. The categories of cultural objects to which the regulation applies are listed in its Annex I.

Export licence

  • An export licence must be presented when a cultural good is exported outside the customs territory of the EU. The exporter must request such a licence, which is issued by the competent EU country authority. It is valid throughout the EU. An EU country may refuse an export licence if the goods are protected by legislation on national treasures of artistic, historical or archaeological value. Under certain circumstances, an EU country may permit exports of certain cultural goods without a licence.
  • The export licence must be presented together with the export declaration at the competent customs office when the customs export formalities are being completed. EU countries may limit the number of customs offices competent for the formalities relating to cultural goods.
  • Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1081/2012 lays down rules governing the drawing up, issuing and use of the export licences provided for under Regulation (EC) No 116/2009.
  • It specifies the types of licence to be issued, their use and period of validity. There are 3 types of licence:
    • the standard licence - used in normal circumstances for each export subject to Regulation (EC) No 116/2009 and valid for 1 year;
    • the specific open licence - covers the repeated temporary export of a specific cultural good by its owner for use and/or exhibition in a third country and valid for up to 5 years;
    • the general open licence - issued to museums/other institutions to cover the temporary export of any of the goods that belong to their permanent collection that are liable to be temporarily exported from the EU on a regular basis for exhibition in a non-EU country. These are valid for up to 5 years.
  • Models of the 3 forms are provided in Annexes I, II and III respectively.


  • With a view to implementing this regulation, national administrative authorities are to provide each other with mutual assistance as well as cooperate with the European Commission. Furthermore, cooperation must be established between EU countries' customs and competent authorities.
  • EU countries must establish effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties for infringements of the regulation.


Regulation (EU) No 116/2009 is the codified version of an original act (Regulation (EEC) No 3911/92), and its subsequent amendments. It has applied since 2 March 2009.


For more information, see:


Council Regulation (EC) No 116/2009 of 18 December 2008 on the export of cultural goods (codified version) (OJ L 39, 10.2.2009, pp. 1-7)


List of authorities empowered to issue export licences for cultural goods, published in accordance with Article 3(2) of Council Regulation (EC) No 116/2009 (OJ C 164, 16.7.2009, pp. 6-20)

List of customs offices empowered to handle formalities for the exportation of cultural goods, published in accordance with Article 5(2) of Council Regulation (EC) No 116/2009 (OJ C 134, 13.6.2009, pp. 9-13)

last update 20.02.2017