The export of artworks from Italy is made easier at last

9 November 2020 | Applicable law: Italy

Giulia Cipollini co-authored this article with Lorenzo Marantonio.

Article 1 of the Ministerial Decree 31 July 2020 no.367 amends paragraph 6 of article 7 of the preceding Ministerial Decree of 9 July 2018, n.246. Following this amendment, signed by the current Cultural Heritage Minister Mr. Dario Franceschini, artworks of more than 70 years old and whose value is less than €13.500 are now allowed to be expatriated with a self-declaration stating that such criteria are met.

Actually, such a system had already been introduced in 2018 by that same Minister but his successor, Mr. Alberto Bonisoli, introduced paragraph 6 with Minister Decree 9 July 2018, no. 305 that postponed the exportation by self-declaration of the entry into force of the "SUE" (Sistema Informativo degli Uffici Esportazione, i.e. a unified informatics system allowing for the exchange of information between Soprintendenze, that is the Public Authority in charge with the enforcement of cultural heritage law). Hence, giving that such electronic database has not been introduced yet, the exportation of artworks having more than 70 years and whose value was less than €13.500 was still subject to the issue of the Attestato di Libera Circolazione, a special authorisation which required to present the artworks physically to the competent authority for examination, the Export Office. For example, in order to export to the USA an antiquity object such as a piece of furniture of moderate cultural interest bought at an auction in Italy, it should have been presented to the Export Office and obtain the export permit, with obvious consequences in terms of costs and timing of the exportation.

The new amendment makes things easier for the owners of objects of art and antiquity, now being able to export such items by completing a dedicated form (model E1 or E2) in which the interested party declares that they meet export criteria, and all of this without having to wait for any authorisation.

The amendment reaffirms some crucial points of the reform introduced in 2017 by Mr Franceschini following the requests made by many operators of the Italian art and antiquity market who asked for easier procedures and less restrictions for the export of objects of minor cultural interest. Such amendment, in fact, was greeted with enthusiasm by Andrea di Castro, president of the Associazione Antiquari d'Italia and Sonia Farsetti, president of the Associazione Nazionale Case d'Asta representing, respectively, Italian antiquity dealers and auction houses.

Even though Italy still has one of the most stringent laws on the protection of national cultural heritage, such reform pushed it one step further towards the global art market. Yet, we are still far from reaching the framework of value provided by European law and other "market nations" such as the United Kingdom (amounting to, in the former case, €150.000 for paintings and €50.000 for sculptures).

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.


Related experience

As a full-service law firm, we are able to provide advice and information about a wide range of other issues. Here are some related areas.

Join the club

We have lots more news and information that you'll find informative and useful. Let us know what you're interested in and we'll keep you up to date on the issues that matter to you.