United States Department of State International Cultural Property Regulations & Enforcement

The United States Department of State is responsible for implementing the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act. This is the enabling legislation for the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. Click here for full details (including a country-by-country breakdown, complete with sample photographs of restricted items) and news articles about 'busts'!

United States Customs Department Enforcement of Cultural Property & Endangered Species Laws

The Customs Service has been entrusted with enforcing some 600 laws for 60 other government agencies, such as the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Agriculture. These other agencies have great interest in what people bring into the country. Customs is always at ports of entry — guarding the nationís borders.

Most countries have laws that protect their cultural property (art/artifacts/antiquities; archaeological and ethnological material are also terms that are used). Such laws include export controls and/or national ownership of cultural property. Even if purchased from a business in the country of origin or in another country, legal ownership of such artifacts may be in question if brought into the United States. Click here for more information.

Facts About U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Laws and Enforcement

Check out the relevant policies, laws and enforcement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

United States Laws Concerning Ivory

Check out whats legal and what's verboten in the importation of ivory products into the United States.


Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

Also known as the Washington Convention, 120 member countries have joined together to ban trade in an agreed list of currently endangered species and to regulate and monitor trade in others that might become endangered. Read about CITES here.

UNESCO Cultural Property Convention

The UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970) [Signed by the United States in 1983]

General Information and Text of the Convention.     Publications relating to the Convention.

UNIDROIT Convention

The UNIDROIT Convention on the International Return of Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (1995).

The 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on stolen and illegally exported cultural objects provides a private individual or institution with the right and also the means to reclaim stolen objects in the courts of the country in which the object is located, and it provides a uniform definition of good title. It convention complements the UNESCO convention.

See information on the convention here.

The Hague Convention

Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (The Hague Convention, First Protocol, 1954 and Second Protocol, 1999)

Find out about it here.


Interpol Home Page for Stolen Works of Art.

Interpol Page for African archaeological looting.

U.S. & International Endangered Species Laws and Related Topics

A web site devoted to description and analysis of the laws on endangered species.


The International Council of Museums

ICOM sets minimum standards of professional practice and performance for museums and their staff. In joining the organisation, ICOM members undertake to abide by the organization's Code of Ethics for Museums.

*   DISCLAIMER:  The information on these pages is for general usage only and is not a substitute for the advice and information provided by your own legal counsel.  Your reliance upon the information contained herein (and any URL pages you may visit through hypertext on these pages) is done at your own acknowledgement and risk.

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