Change to UK rules on export of cultural objects

Posted on: April 2, 2015 by

Last month, the UK government finally responded to the Department for Culture Media & Sport’s consultation regarding changes to the cultural object export licensing system which took place between May and August 2012. The response indicated the changes that will be brought about to the export system and which have already been incorporated by the Arts Council in its Guidance on Export Licensing.

The two main changes involve the Open General Export Licence (OGEL) and the rules for temporary export licences. The OGEL system is to be simplified and streamlined with the European rules, notably with regards to cultural objects brought in from outside the EU and not in ‘free circulation’ (ie artworks brought into the UK temporarily for exhibition or sale): such objects will now be able to be re-exported under an OGEL. Another impact of the changes is that Holocaust-era works returned to claimants by recommendation of the Spoliation Advisory Panel would be exportable under an OGEL. This will facilitate the process significantly.

The other change involves temporary export licences. These will now be regulated by specific guidelines. Most notably, the duration of temporary export licenses will be set at a maximum of three years, with the possibility of a three year extension. If, however, any object has been deemed a ‘national treasure’ by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, then it will only be able to leave on a temporary export licence for a three year period (and will usually be required to be publicly displayed while abroad). It will then have to return home for three years before another application can be made. The purpose here is to keep such valuable objects in the UK – and for temporary licences to remain temporary (ie not capable of perpetual renewal).

So far the changes have gone without comment in the press or online (until now of course).