Export antiques out of Italy

Angie Elizabeth Brooksby
June 16, 2005

Sending contemporary artworks out of Italy is complex, but exporting antiques and artworks of authors no longer living can be literally impossible. In 1939, Law 1089 was passed to inhibit the criminal act of illegally removing antiques from Italian territory and to regulate the liberal circulation of cultural goods. The most recent re-working of the law was in 1998, but the basic rules from 1939 still apply.


It is illegal to export certain objects, unless they are being exported only temporarily for exhibitions. The permanent exportation of these items is prohibited if it considered damaging to the Italian historical patrimony and national culture. Some items that are considered of particular historical and cultural interest include art, archaeological finds, ethnic objects, books, documents, and archives. Some other objects protected by Article 35 of Law 1089 are slides and negatives that are more than twenty-five years old, automobiles seventy-five years old or more, and scientific instruments that are over fifty years old.


Antique objects that are articular national interest may be allowed to leave Italy by requesting a certificate of free circulation from the exportation office, commonly known as the Belle Arti, in Palazzo Pitti. To legally remove from the Italian territory any antique object one must apply for permission. The Belle Arti may refuse to grant free circulation permission and may even decide that the objects in question are of such national interest that they will be forcefully purchased from the person who is trying to export them. While it is possible to attain a certificate of free circulation, the application process is lengthy, complicated, and not free-of-charge.


To apply for a certificate of free circulation for your antiques you have to go to the exportation office in Palazzo Pitti with two copies signed in the original of the application form, four photographs of each object, three copies signed in the original of the form number 20 that is available at the exportation office, and a photocopy of valid identification. These documents must be accompanied by two marca da bollo (revenue stamps) of 11 euro that can be obtained in a Tabacchi store.


The application form can list up to twenty items, but each item must have three copies, each signed in the original, of form number 20. After you consign the documentation to the exportation office, you will have to make an appointment with the officials there to view the objects that you intend to export. On the day of the appointment, you will have to physically bring the antiques to the Palazzo Pitti garage, which is situated to the far right of the building beyond the piazza. After they have seen your antiques, with luck you will be granted the certificate of free circulation, and then you can contact a courier to export your antiques.

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