Consideration of applications for export permits and licences

There are five licensing authorities with different areas of responsibility who decide on export permits and export licences.

The licencing authorities are:

  • The National Library of Sweden
  • Nationalmuseum
  • The Swedish National Heritage Board
  • The Swedish National Archives
  • The Nordic Museum

In handling an application for an export permit for cultural goods, the licensing authority shall assess several different criteria (according to Chapter 5, Section 10 a, of the Historic Environment Act). An object may, for example, be judged to be of major importance to the cultural heritage:

  • If it is unique or rare or particularly characteristic of its period and its historic context.
  • If it is connected to an important person or event in Swedish history.
  • If it has an important association with a historical environment or if it constitutes a part of a historic collection of great importance.
  • If it otherwise is of particular importance for research or should be preserved in the country for another particular reason.

Exemptions and Government consent

The Historic Environment Act (Chapter 5, Section 11, paragraph 1) contains provisions under which permission must always be given for the export of cultural goods from Sweden – even if they are of major importance to the cultural heritage. These exemptions apply in the following five situations:

  1. If the owner migrates from Sweden to settle in another country.
  2. If the cultural good has been acquired through inheritance, legacy or partition by an individual resident in another country.
  3. If the cultural good will be taken out of Sweden by a public institution in Sweden or an institution receiving a grant from the State, a municipality or a county council and are to be brought back to Sweden again.
  4. If the cultural good will be taken out by an individual for use in connection with public cultural activities and is to be brought back to Sweden again.
  5. If the cultural good is temporarily in Sweden.

The exemption provisions also mean that permission for export maybe granted if a cultural good that is of major importance to the cultural heritage has been acquired by an institution abroad (Chapter 5, Section 11, paragraph 2 of the Historic Environment Act).

In addition, even if cultural goods are of major importance to the cultural heritage, the Government may consent to them being taken out of Sweden, provided there are extraordinary reasons for doing so (Chapter 5, Section 16 of the Historic Environment Act).