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Import and export of Cultural Heritage

The Museum of Cultural History is a national decision-making institution for exports, and an expert in cases involving the illegal import of archaeological and ethnographic objects.

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False Cuneiform Tablet from Mesopotamia. Photo: Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo.


If one wishes to import an object of antiquity, a valid export certificate issued in the country of origin is required. The goal is to limit the illegal trade of cultural property. The illegal trade of antiquities has become a widespread global problem. The state of Norway is compelled by international agreements to ensure assistance in limiting such trade and illegal movement of artefacts.

UNESCO has compiled a list of laws governing what is legal and illegal to export from respective countries worldwide. If one has plans to purchase artefacts overseas, one is obligated to acquaint themselves with the country´s legislation in regards to export prior to the shipping of items.


The Cultural Heritage Act regulates the export of cultural heritage objects from Norway. The goal is to safeguard our heritage and history by protecting important heritage against illegal exportation, and by ensuring good documentation on the items that are out of the country legally.

An export permit of archaeological objects pre-dating 1537 AD, must be applied for, including coins and ethnographic objects older than 1900s. Additionally, the legal export of a few coins of more recent date, medals, banknotes and Orders of national importance, are subjected to the same application procedure (see separate list in the regulations of the Cultural Heritage Act).


Håkon Roland

Published Mar. 18, 2014 3:36 PM - Last modified June 1, 2022 9:02 AM