Cultural Goods Exports: Value Thresholds in France Reassessed

On 22 January 2021, by Agathe Albi-Gervy

Art market professionals have won the day: on December 28, after a long consultation process, the French government adopted a decree raising the value thresholds above which a certificate is required to export cultural property (Journal Officiel publication no. 0314 of December 29, 2020).

Gustave Caillebotte, Le Déjeuner (Luncheon), classified as a national treasure in February 2020, private collection.

This measure also benefits private individuals wishing to transport their artworks outside France. To a greater extent, it helps facilitate the circulation of cultural goods, and simplifies the work of the administration, which has to deal with tens of thousands of applications each year, ending up with only a dozen works duly qualified as "national treasures". This means they are forbidden to leave the country by the French Ministry of Culture, in the interests of protecting national heritage. These certificate applications are costly in terms of administrative management for professionals as well, who also have to wait four months—the turnaround time—to get an answer, and may lose out by missing application deadlines for events like trade fairs. The value thresholds have now increased from €15,000 to €300,000 for paintings, from €15,000 to €30,000 for drawings, from €50,000 to €100,000 for sculptures, from €15,000 to €25,000 for photographs, and from €1,500 to €3,000 for incunabula and manuscripts. The CVV (council for voluntary sales of chattels at public auction) also informs us that "the next changes in the regulations look set to dematerialize the procedure and reduce the time factor: measures that will harmonize our legislation with that of competing countries".

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