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Combatting illicit trafficking of cultural heritage

Chile is committed to collaborating in the fight against the illegal trading of objects of cultural and heritage value.

Illicit trafficking

International collaboration

In 2014, Chile ratified the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. This allowed the country to strength its existing work in this field, including the training of customs officials and the police in the identification of protected goods and the related international regulation. 

Chilean law

Chile’s Law N° 17.288 on National Monuments stipulates that the following objects are protected by the state: 

  • Historical and artistic objects that form part of state collections or are otherwise subject to protection orders 
  • Archaeological sites of all types 
  • All paleontological pieces (fossils) and the locations where they are found. 

Special authorization is required to take certain goods out of the country. They include: 

  • All archaeological objects   
  • All paleontological objects (fossils) 
  • Objects held by national museums 
  • Objects and bibliographic material considered historical monuments 
  • Historical and cultural objects belonging to indigenous communities
  • All works of art by Chilean and foreign artists. 

Recommendations for visitors

  • Do not remove archaeological or paleontological objects as souvenirs and, if you make an archaeological or paleontological discovery, report it to the appropriate authorities.  
  • Do not buy or sell craftwork made using archaeological or paleontological materials such as fossils and ceramics.
  • Be sure not to purchase objects that are protected by law. If in doubt about their origin, do not purchase. 
  • Remember to request an export license from the corresponding authority if planning to take objects of cultural value out of the country. 
  • Contact the Brigade against Environmental and Cultural Crimes (BIDEMA) of the Policía Chilena de Investigaciones or Carabineros de Chile, if you are aware of any act of illicit trafficking of objects of cultural interest.
  • Be aware that any object or structure that is part of an archaeological site declared a national monument should not be removed without authorization from the National Monuments Council (CMN).

To Learn more 

Working Group against Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Heritage
Av. Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins 651, Santiago
Tel: +56223605272
www.traficoilicito.cl 

To request an export license

The authority for the issue of an export license depends on the nature of the object: 

  • Historical and heritage objects from indigenous communities
    National Corporation for Indigenous Development (CONADI)
    Aldunate 285, Temuco
    Tel: +56 458 004 527
    www.conadi.gob.cl   

To report a possible illegal act  

Contact the Brigade against Environmental and Cultural Crimes (BIDEMA) of the Policía de Investigaciones (tel: 134) or Carabineros de Chile (tel: 133).   

To report a discovery  

Contact the Provincial Governor’s Office corresponding to the location of the discovery or the nearest office of the National Monuments Council (CMN).