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To export cultural goods over a certain age and value, either permanently or temporarily, you need an individual licence from the Export Licensing Unit of the Arts Council.
These cultural goods include:
- works of art
- means of transport
- archaeological items
You don’t need a licence to export:
- a cultural object less than 50 years old at the time of export
- postage stamps and other articles of philatelic interest
- birth, marriage or death certificates relating to your personal affairs or those of your spouse for dispatch to another European Union (EU) member state
- letters or other writings written by or to you or your spouse
If you’re planning to export a cultural good within the EU, you will need to apply for an individual UK licence if the cultural good is above the UK age and financial thresholds set out in the UK Open General Export Licence (OGEL) and the Arts Council’s ’UK Export Licensing for Cultural Goods: Procedures and guidance for exporters of works of art and other cultural goods’.
If the cultural good is below the relevant UK thresholds, it can be exported under the terms of the OGEL without you needing to apply for an individual export licence.
If you’re planning to export a cultural good outside the EU, you’ll need to apply for an individual EU licence if it’s above the age and financial thresholds set by the Arts Council. If it’s below these thresholds but above the relevant UK thresholds, you need to apply for an individual UK licence.
Contact the Export Licensing Unit for an individual UK or EU application form.
You may need to provide additional information with your application, such as a photograph of the item or details of its provenance (where it arrived in the UK in the past 50 years).
Your application may be referred to an expert adviser in a national museum or gallery. If the expert objects to the permanent export of the cultural good on the grounds of national importance, the case will be referred to the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest.
It will recommend whether the Department for Culture, Media and Sport should defer a decision on the licence application to let a UK institution or individual raise funds to buy the item.
If you plan to export a cultural good temporarily you’ll need to specify the date of re-importation on the export licence application.
If an export licence is granted, conditions may be attached.
For more help contact:
Fines and penalties
If you provide false information in your application or don’t comply with any conditions attached to a licence, you may be fined and/or imprisoned for up to 2 years.
It’s important you read the Arts Council’s guidance before making an application.