US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) maintains a comprehensive set of regulations restricting the importation of various pieces of artwork, antiquities, and cultural property. On June 16, 2021, CBP published in the Federal Register a final rule amending those regulations to reflect the imposition of new import restrictions on certain archeological material imported from Turkey.

The final rule recognizes that the artwork and cultural antiquities from Turkey are in jeopardy of pillage. It adds Turkey to the list of countries which have a bilateral agreement with the United States imposing import restrictions on the cultural patrimony from their respective countries and provides a Designated List identifying the types of archaeological material that are now governed by the restrictions.

In respect of the Turkish government’s measures taken to protect the nation’s cultural patrimony, the final rule implements significant restrictions barring – except in exceptional circumstances – the importation of certain archaeological and ethnological material from Turkey. The scope of the prohibition is broad, including various categories of archaeological material from 1,200,000 B.C. to A.D. 1770 and ethnological material from the 1st century A.D. to the end of the Ottoman Empire in A.D. 1923. As of the June 16, 2021 effective date for the final rule, the importation of designated material is subject to the restrictions of Title 19 of the United States Code (19 U.S.C § 2606), which sets out strict requirements on the evidence needed to demonstrate that the importation of designated materials is lawful and Title 19 of the Code of Federal Regulations (19 C.F.R. § 12.104g(a)), which identifies the artwork and cultural antiquities that qualify as designated materials. Where an importer cannot meet the conditions set forth in 19 U.S.C. § 2606 and 19 C.F.R. § 12.104(c), designated materials will be denied entry into the United States, and subsequently seized and forfeited to the government.

Therefore, in addition to the usual due diligence given to matters of authentication, collectors must give serious thought to due diligence needed to determine whether importation of Turkish artwork and artifacts are lawful.