Certain cultural objects more than 50 years of age and valued above specified financial thresholds will require an individual licence for export out of the United Kingdom whether on a permanent or temporary basis.

The export licensing controls for objects of cultural interest are designed to balance the need to keep nationally important objects in this country, the rights of owners and the encouragement of a thriving art trade.

For further details about which objects require an individual licence please refer to the guidance below.

Should you have any additional enquries, you can contact the Export Licensing Unit on 020 7268 9606/9635/9623/9622/9642/9614, via email at elu@artscouncil.org.uk or via post to the following address:

Export Licensing Unit
Arts Council England
21 Bloomsbury Street
London
WC1B 3HF

Guidance

UK Export Licensing for Cultural Goods:  Procedures and guidance for exporters of works of art and other cultural goods

Download: Word PDF

This booklet provides guidance on the procedures involved in applying for an export licence for cultural goods. Part 1 sets out the export controls that apply to cultural goods, and when an individual export licence is required. Part 2 details how decisions are reached on licence applications for objects of national importance. 

Please note, the above publication has been amended to reflect a change in policy for private "Ridley" purchasers: the guideline for retention by such purchasers of export-deferred cultural goods is now ten years (it was previously five years). The relevant paragraph is 56(c).

Guidance on the export of cultural goods not released into free circulation
This guidance assists exporters in applying for an export licence for cultural goods brought into the UK from outside the EU but not released into free circulation.

Guidance on the Provision of Provenance
This guidance indicates what provenance is required to support an export licence application.

Guidance to Exporters of Archaeological Objects

Guidance to Exporters of Archaeological Objects (Including Numismatic Items)
This guidance sets out the export licensing requirements for the export of archaeological objects (including numismatic items).

Guidance for Exporters of Archaeological Objects (UK Origin)
This guidance assists exporters in applying for an export licence for archaeological objects of UK origin.

Notices for Exporters

Cultural Objects from Syria
Notice on the Export Control (Syria Sanctions) (Amendment) Order 2014 which will come into force on the 8th August.

ELU Move to Bloomsbury Street
Notice detailing the ELU's move to a new office in Bloomsbury Street and new staff telephone numbers.

EU Licence Threshold Change 2013
Notice detailing the new EU licence thresholds which come into force on 31st December 2013.

ELA1 form (for inclusion with export licence applications)
This form is a summary sheet which should accompany export licence applications (it is not an export licence application form - they are not avilable electronically).

Open General Export Licence (Objects of Cultural Interest) dated 1st May 2004
Granted by the Secretary of State.

Cultural objects from Iraq
Notice detailing the UN embargo on the import/export of Iraqi cultural items.

ELU Notice to Exporters of Musical Instruments
Notice detailing how to apply for an individual EU Open Specific Export Licence for any musical instruments temporarily exported for a period of less than three months for use in the course of work by a professional musician.

ELU open licence form (musical instruments)
Application form to apply for an individual EU Open Specific Export Licence for a musical instrument.

ELU Notice to Exporters of Motor Vehicles
Notice detailing how to apply for an individual EU Open Specific Export Licence for a motor vehicle to enable its temporary export outside the EU for a period of up to three months for use for pleasure purposes. 

ELU open licence form (motor vehicles)

Application form to apply for an individual EU Open Specific Export Licence for a motor vehicle.

Notice to Exporters of Manuscripts
Definition of when the presence of marginalia means that printed matter should be treated as a manuscript for the purposes of export.

Notices for Exporters and Expert Advisers

Duty of Confidentiality (4 November 2010