Department for Culture Media and Sport

cultural property

We are responsible for protecting national cultural objects. Our aim is to improve access for all by permitting and encouraging the highest quality works of art to remain and be displayed in the UK.

Our work on cultural property includes:

  • Acceptance in Lieu – a scheme allowing people to offer items of cultural and historical importance to the state in full or part payment of tax  
  • Export Licensing – applying for an individual Export Licence, which you must have to export certain cultural objects out of the UK temporarily or permanently
  • Exporting cultural property – the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest help to advise DCMS on the export of cultural objects, keeping works of national interest in the UK
  • Government Indemnity Scheme (GIS) – the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest help to advise DCMS on the export of cultural objects, keeping works of national interest in the UK
  • Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict 1954 & 1999 – a system of general and special protection of cultural property, in situations of international and non-international armed conflict
  • Human remains in UK institutions – DCMS Guidance for the Care of Human Remains in Museums, including advice on dealing with requests for the return of human remains in museum collections
  • Illicit Trade – information about our work with different stakeholder groups to develop policy on preventing and prohibiting the illicit trade in cultural objects
  • Protection of exhibits on loan from abroad for public exhibitions – information about Part 6 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, which provides protection for objects on loan from abroad in temporary public exhibitions in UK museums and galleries
  • Spoliation Advisory Panel – assesses and resolves claims from people, or their heirs, who lost property during the Nazi era which is now held in UK national collections
  • Treasure – DCMS is responsible for decisions about treasure finds in England and Wales and for policy that comes under The Treasure Act 1996

Advice on a range of issues relating to cultural property can also be found on the Cultural Property Advice website.

Transfer of functions to the Arts Council England

Following the abolition of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), administration of the Acceptance in Lieu scheme, the Government Indemnity Scheme and the Secretariat to the Reviewing Committee on the Exports of Works of Art is now carried out by Arts Council England (ACE). However, DCMS is still responsible for all policy development and is the point of contact for any policy issues and enquiries.