The Law of Ukraine

On Export, Import and Return of Cultural Values

Date of Entry into Force:
November 2, 1999

The Law of Ukraine “On Export, Import and Return of Cultural Values” (hereinafter referred to as “the Law”) regulates relations connected with export, import and return of cultural values and aims at protecting the national cultural heritage and developing Ukraine's international cooperation in the area of culture. Cultural values shall be objects of material and spiritual culture, which are of artistic, historical, ethnographic and scientific importance, and are subject to preservation, restoration and protection according to the legislation of Ukraine. The present Law shall not apply to modern souvenirs, items for cultural purposes that are in serial and mass production.

According to the legislation of Ukraine, cultural values of Ukraine shall be:
- cultural values created on the territory of Ukraine by the Ukrainian citizens;
- cultural values revealed on the territory of Ukraine;
- cultural values imported to the territory of Ukraine, which were purchased as a result of voluntary exchange;
- illegally exported cultural values of Ukraine, which stay beyond the borders of its territory;
- cultural values temporarily exported outside the territory of Ukraine and not returned to Ukraine, etc.

It shall be imperative to return to Ukraine the following items:
- cultural values illegally exported from the territory of Ukraine;
- cultural values evacuated from the territory of Ukraine during wars and armed conflicts and not returned back;
- cultural values temporarily exported outside Ukraine's territory not returned to Ukraine.

Cultural values which are legally in ownership of natural persons or legal entities of Ukraine, but whose origin is related to the history and culture of other countries can be returned to these countries by way of concluding an agreement with the owner of cultural values for purchase and sale, mutually beneficial exchange or a gift agreement.

Specially authorized state body for overseeing export, import and return of cultural values shall be the State Service of Control for Moving of Cultural Values through State Border of Ukraine under the Ministry of Culture and Arts of Ukraine (hereon after refer to as “the State Service of Control”). The State Service of Control shall carry out its tasks in cooperation with a specially authorized central body of executive power in the field of archiving and business documentation, the National Commission for Returning Cultural Values to Ukraine, the State Customs Service of Ukraine, and law enforcement bodies.

Cultural values, which were requested for export and returned after their temporary import abroad, shall be subject to obligatory state expertise. The procedure for carrying out state expertise of cultural values and the rate of payment for such expertise shall be approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. Refusal of a natural person or a legal entity, which initiated the request to export cultural values, to submit cultural values requested for export for the state expertise shall be viewed as the owner's refusal to export them. The State Service of Control following the request of the owner of cultural values or a person authorized thereby shall make a decision whether it is possible or impossible to export cultural values on the basis of the conclusion made by the state expertise. The owner of cultural values or a person authorized thereby shall be informed about the approved decision in writing within one-month period from the date when the request was officially received. In case the State Service of Control makes a decision that it is possible to export cultural values, the owner of cultural values of a person authorized thereby shall be given a certificate of the established standard form for the right to export cultural values. The standard form of the certificate for the right to export cultural values shall be approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. The certificate for the right to export cultural values shall be the ground for admitting cultural values mentioned therein outside the border of Ukraine's customs territory. Export of cultural values shall be prohibited without the above-mentioned certificate.

The following shall not be subject to export from Ukraine:
- cultural values included into the State Register of the National Cultural Property;
- cultural values included into the National Archive Fund;
- cultural values included into the Museum Fund of Ukraine.

The request for the right to export cultural values shall be submitted at least one month prior to the date of their export by the owner or a person authorized thereby to the State Service of Control. The request shall be accompanied by a document, which confirms the ownership right for cultural values and the conclusion of the state expertise.

Articles 16-21 of the present Law determine the procedure for exporting family values, personal awards, cultural values by individuals who enjoy diplomatic immunity, cultural values by way of sending them through international postal deliveries, acquiring into state ownership cultural values requested for export, and importing cultural values to Ukraine. Importing to Ukraine cultural values, which are under the quest, shall be prohibited. Such cultural values, which are under the quest, shall be seized by customs bodies of Ukraine for the purpose of returning them to their owner according to the established procedure.

Chapter IV of the Law is dedicated to temporary import and temporary export of cultural values. This Chapter establishes the procedure for temporary export and import of cultural values, the procedure for refusing to issue the certificate for the right for temporary export of cultural values, and conditions of the agreement on temporary export of cultural values.

Cultural values seized by customs bodies or law enforcement bodies, as well as those confiscated upon a court decision shall be transferred for free to the Ministry of Culture and Arts of Ukraine and the specially authorized central body of executive power on archiving and business documentation, which shall ensure their storage, expertise and information about them for the purpose of clarifying who they belong to. After establishing the owner of the above-mentioned cultural values, they shall be transferred to their legal owner or to a person authorized thereby according to the established procedure.

The National Commission on Returning Cultural Values to Ukraine shall assist owners or persons authorized thereby in submitting claims and applications on requesting cultural values from illegal ownership. Returning cultural values that were illegally imported to Ukraine shall be performed according to the legislation of Ukraine or upon a court decision. Cultural values illegally imported to Ukraine that are being returned shall be exempted from duties, customs and other fees. All expenses related to retuning cultural values shall be shouldered by the party requesting their return.

Natural persons or legal entities owning cultural values, who did not know and should not have known that these cultural values were earlier stolen or illegally exported, shall be recognized as conscientious acquirers of cultural values. In case of purchasing cultural values stolen or illegally exported from other countries, the above-mentioned values shall be returned to their lawful owner. Conscientious acquirer of such cultural values shall have the right to receive compensation in case of returning cultural values. The state or the owner requesting the return of illegally exported cultural values shall compensate expenses on their storage, restoration, expertise, etc, in case these values are being returned.
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