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Artefacts, archives, antiques, cultural items and grave-related items

Policy overview

Many artefacts, antiques, and grave-related items are protected under national laws and government bodies. Though you can list certain artefacts, grave-related items, and other related items, you may need to meet few requirements when you sell them on eBay (see the guidelines below for more details).

eBay co-operates with the following departments and organisations. Except as otherwise indicated in this policy and other eBay policies, please follow the guidelines issued by these departments when listing related items on eBay:

In the UK

In the Republic of Ireland

Make sure your listing follows these guidelines. If it doesn't, it may be removed, and you may be subject to a range of other actions, including restrictions of your buying and selling privileges and suspension of your account.

What are the guidelines?

Sellers on eBay may have a legal obligation to report archaeological finds. These obligations depend on where the item was found. Please see our Antiquities Buying Guide.

 

Restricted

  • Sellers listing items of potential Treasure found in England and Wales before 24 September 1997 should be able to provide proof that the items were reported under the law of Treasure Trove.

  • Sellers listing items of potential Treasure found in England and Wales on or after 24 September 1997 should be able to provide proof that the items were reported under the Treasure Act.

  • Sellers must be able to provide either Crown Disclaimer documents or the find's Treasure number and include these within their listing. Finds that do not fall under the definition of Treasure, but are recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme will have a unique reference number, which sellers should list.

  • Sellers listing items found in Scotland should include a disclaimer certificate in the listing that shows items have been reported and that they have been given legal entitlement to be sold.

  • Sellers listing items found in Northern Ireland should produce certification in their listing to show the items have been reported to the Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Service or to the Ulster Museum.

  • Sellers listing items found in the Republic of Ireland should be able to provide evidence that the items were properly reported under the National Monuments Act. Since ownership of archaeological objects automatically vests in the Irish State, sellers should also be able to provide evidence of a waiver of ownership from the relevant Minister.

In all cases sellers should state the origin of the archaeological objects

Not allowed

  • Archaeological law finds that haven't been reported in accordance with applicable law.

The sale of public records documents is illegal. Restriction on selling these items is based on various laws including:
• Public Record Act
• Manorial Documents Rules
• Tithe Rules
• Parochial Records and Registers Measure
• Local Government Act
• Data Protection Act

Not allowed

  • Public records and related documents

For more information you can directly consult the website of UK National Archives on legislation on archives and records management or on other archival legislation.
Cultural goods are objects of historical, architectural or archaeological interest.
Under EU law, cultural goods include:
• Archaeological goods more than 100 years old
• Pictures and paintings over 50 years old where the value exceeds £119,000
• Watercolours over 50 years old where the value exceeds £23,800
• Mosaics over 50 years old where the value exceeds £11,900
• Books over 100 years old where the value exceeds £39,600
• Manuscripts over 50 years old whatever their value
• Printed maps over 200 years old where the value exceeds £11,900
• Other items more than 100 years old where the value exceeds £39,600
Please follow these general guidelines when listing related items on eBay. For items outside this non-exhaustive list and updates on the above list, please check the information about UK Export licensing for Cultural Goods on the Arts Council website. Sellers based in the Republic of Ireland should contact the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Allowed

  • Export of stamps, birth, marriage or death certificates, letters written by or to the exporter

  • Export of personal property by manufacturer or producer

Restricted

  • Export of antiquities and other cultural goods is subject to both UK, Irish and EU controls:

    • Under UK law, any item manufactured or produced more than 50 years before the date of exportation requires an export licence. Some exceptions mentioned above exist. 

    • Under Irish law, if the item is covered by the National Monuments Acts 190-2004 , the Documents and Pictures (Regulations of Export) Act 1945 or the National Cultural Institutions Act 1997 and is to be removed outside the Republic of Ireland, sellers should provide evidence that an export licence has been obtained from the relevant Minister. 

    • Under EU law, the export of cultural goods outside the EU needs an export licence.

  • Sellers have to include the provenance or ownership history of the object in their listing.

Not allowed

  • Tainted cultural goods illegally excavated or removed after 30 December 2003 (UK's Dealing in Cultural Object (Offences) Act 2003).

  • Looted or stolen goods.  The International Council of Museums’ Red Lists Database identifies categories of cultural goods most vulnerable to illicit traffic.

Allowed

  • Cave formations lawfully taken from private land

 

Restricted

  • Speleothems, stalactites and stalagmites taken from caves which have been designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest ('SSSI') if a prior consent has been obtained from Natural England.

Not allowed

  • Speleothems, stalactites and stalagmites taken from caves designated as SSSI

 

Allowed

  • New grave markers and burial plots

Not allowed

  • Historical graves, tombstones and related markers


Our policy reflects the laws and regulations on the sale of artefacts, archives, grave-related items, and other related items. Before selling these items on eBay, be sure to follow all applicable laws and our guidelines above.



For more information on illicit traffic of cultural heritage, please visit the UNESCO Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws.

As part of the fight against the traffic of stolen works of art, Interpol encourages not only police, but also art and antiques dealers and owners of works of art to play an active role in the exchange of information about stolen works of art. You can find more information and resources on the Works of Art section of the Interpol website.


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