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Imports and exports of cultural property are regulated

March 22nd, 2016

The government of Canada regulates the importation and exportation of cultural property in order to protect and preserve Canadian objects of historical, scientific, and cultural significance and to help reciprocating countries do the same for their own cultural and historical artifacts.

Export control is accomplished by means of the Canadian Cultural Property Export Control List. It should be noted that the export controls do not apply to objects which are less than 50 years old, or made by a person still living.

The export of controlled cultural property is subject to a permit procedure, which is administered by designated permit issuing officers at specified offices of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

The import controls apply to cultural property from several other countries that have a cultural property agreement with Canada, including signatories to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. Over 125 states are signatories to the convention.

Each signatory state has its own rules regarding the types of cultural property subject to export control. Although not exhaustive, certain types of objects are likely to be controlled. These include: archaeological objects, important historical or scientific objects, works of arts, and old manuscripts and old books.

These types of objects, or other cultural property, may be detained by Canadian border services officers who will then contact Canadian Heritage for further instructions on how to proceed.

Importers of cultural property should note that given the UN or International Council of Museums warnings, goods from certain countries or regions may be under additional scrutiny at the border.

Additional information is available in the CBSA's Memorandum D19-4-1 Export and Import of Cultural Property

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