UK: Tick Tock: Regulations On The Import Of Non-EU-Cultural Goods Are Now In Effect. How Will This Affect The International Art Market?

As anticipated in our article published on 19 February 2019, the Regulation on the import of cultural goods (EU 2019/880) (the "Regulation") was formally adopted by the European Parliament and European Council on 17 April 2019. The Regulation addresses the import and storage in the EU of cultural goods. The impetus for the Regulation was the EU's intent to prevent the illegal removal of cultural goods from non-EU Member States in order to combat the illicit trafficking of cultural goods and the overall preservation of cultural heritage. Following its official publication on the website of the Official Journal of the European Union on 7 June 2019, the Regulation has entered into force today, on 27 June 2019. What happens next?

Entry into force

While the Regulation applies from the date it enters into force, it provides for implementing acts to be adopted within a discretionary 2 year period (following its entry into force, and then for an electronic database system, described below, to be operational within 4 years after the first of those implementing acts). Specifically, the prohibition of the import of cultural goods that have been unlawfully removed from their non-EU country of origin will apply from December 2020. For non-EU cultural goods exceeding 250 years in age, as well as those older than 200 years valued at more than EUR 18,000, the Regulation, dictating the requirement of an import licence and an importer statement respectively, will apply from the day the electronic database system becomes operational, or at the latest from 28 June 2025. It can thus be expected that the Regulation will become effective in its entirety by then.

A centralised electronic database system

In order to facilitate the storage and exchange of information regarding import licences and importer statements, the EU Commission will establish a centralised electronic database system through which primary (import licences and importer statements) and supporting information (evidence on the lawful export from third countries and information that is conducive to identification) will be documented and accessible across Member States. UNESCO has recommended the use of an Object ID standard to assist in the description of cultural goods.

Retention and sharing of information submitted to the electronic database system

EU Member States and the EU Commission will collect personal data only for the purposes of this Regulation or in duly justified circumstances for the purposes of prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal penalties, including the safeguarding against and the prevention of threats to public security. The processing of personal data for this Regulation will respect the right for private and family life recognised in the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of the Council of Europe and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. This personal data will be stored for a period of 20 years, after which it shall be erased.

The effect of Brexit

Currently, there are no licensing requirements for the import of cultural goods into the UK. From today's point of view, the Regulation applies in the same way it applies in all other EU Member States. By the time the Regulation becomes effective in its entirety, if the UK was to have left the EU while remaining in the customs union, like other EU law, the Regulation would be transposed into UK law on the date of exit. If on the other hand, the UK was to have exited the EU by leaving the customs union, the Regulation would no longer automatically apply in the UK, and it would then be up to UK national legislators to decide whether to mirror the EU measures. The benefit of the UK still adopting the Regulation even if outside of the customs union would be the lack of disruption and administrative expenses to the UK. However, this would be at the opportunity cost of making London a more flexible and attractive art market for the import of cultural property goods.

Impact on players in the international art market

Potential buyer deterrence at international art fairs

While there are provisions considered for temporary admission at international art fairs, these don't apply for national buyers who are looking to keep their purchased artworks in their local collection. In other words, an artwork purchased by a French art collector at Frieze in London that is to remain in his collection in France after purchase, would require a licence (and not just an importer statement). The seller would have to await receipt of the licence before finalising the deal which could deter the buyer, and could thus lead to lost sales, as pointed out by Clinton Howell, President of CINOA (International Confederation of Art and Antique Dealer Associations).

Increased administrative costs

Following the 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive of April 2018 introducing more stringent customer due diligence standards, the increased documentation under this Regulation further adds to the aggravation of dealer associations across Europe. Anthony Browne, the chairman of the British Art Market Federation, says the regulations would "set levels of due diligence that are unattainable, imposing licensing costs that would make a significant part of the market uneconomic and cause lengthy delays that would make the temporary import of goods for exhibiting at fairs impossible." CINOA opposes the regulations because they would "add costs and paperwork to the operation of art and antiques businesses throughout Europe."

Lack of differentiated treatment of objects

It is unclear how the Regulation will apply to different types of objects. For example, dealer associations, particularly in the realm of antiquarian books, argue that the Regulation is poorly thought-out. Sally Burdon, the President of ILAB (International League of Antiquarian Booksellers), says that "the legislation is not workable for antiquarian booksellers, European librarians, private collectors or the many others involved for business or pleasure with old books or manuscripts." The ILAB advocate for an upward adjustment to the minimum age threshold of currently 250 years, as well as for an elimination of the requirement to provide documentation on the country of creation or discovery. According to Sibylle Wieduwilt from the Buch- und Kunst Antiquariat Tresor am Roemer, Germany, "As much as 20% of printing in 15th-century Venice was done for England. The books were printed in Italy, then maybe bound in France, illuminated in Belgium then sold to England—what's the so-called 'source country' then? Archaeological artefacts and books are two completely different things and should not be treated in the same way."

Withers' international art team will be monitoring and providing updates on the implementation of the Regulation by EU Member States. Please reach out to any of our team members for further information.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions