This is a brief excerpt from the document you requested from IFAR’s Art Law & Cultural Property Database.

Country Summary for SPAIN

I.  Relevant Legislation
II.  Regulated Cultural Property


The most relevant property forming part of the Spanish Historical Heritage shall be inventoried or declared of Cultural Interest. (Law No. 16-1985, Arts. 1.3)

'Spanish Historical Heritage'—movable and immovable objects of artistic, historical, paleontological, archaeological, ethnographic, scientific or technical interest. It also comprises documentary and bibliographical heritage, archaeological sites and areas as well as natural sites, gardens and parks having artistic, historical or anthropological value. (Law No. 16-1985, Art. 1.2). [Also:] movable or immovable property of a historical nature that can be studied using archaeological methodology forms part of the Spanish Historical Heritage, whether or not it has been extracted and whether it is to be found on the surface or under ground, in territorial seas or on the continental shelf. Geological and paleontological elements relating to the history of man and his origins and background also form part of this heritage. (Law No. 16-1985, Art. 40.1)

Movable property forming part of the Spanish Historical Heritage may be declared of Cultural Interest. Under all circumstances, the movable property contained in a building that has been covered by such a declaration recognizing them as an essential part of the building’s history shall be so considered. (Law No. 16-1985, Art. 27)

[A]ll elements that can be considered inherent to buildings and that form, or formed, part of them or of their environment shall be considered immovable property….even if they can be separated constituting a perfect unit that can be easily applied to other constructions or to other uses apart from their original use, whatever they are made of, and even if such separation does not visibly affect the historical or artistic merit of the property to which they are joined. (Law No. 16-1985, Art. 14.1)

The work of a living author may not be declared as of Cultural Interest unless there is express authorization on the part of its owner or it has been purchased by the Administration. (Law No. 16-1985, Art. 9.4)

Movable property that has been imported legally and is duly documented so that the imported property is fully identified may not be declared of Cultural Interest in a period of ten years after the date on which it was imported. (Law No. 16-1985, Art. 32.1)

'Documentary Heritage'—includes documents more than one hundred years old that are generated, preserved or collected by any other private entities or persons. (Law No. 16-1985, Art. 49.4)

Competent State Agencies

[It] is the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture to process the petitions for any asset to be declared part of Spanish Historical Heritage...Each Autonomous Region will be responsible for declaring any other asset of Spanish Historical Heritage of Cultural Interest (Royal Decree No. 111-1986, Art. 11.1-11.2)


The owners and other holders of movable property of special historical or artistic, archaeological, scientific or technical/cultural value shall present a duly documented application to the appropriate Administration for initiation of the proceedings for inclusion of the property in the General Inventory. (Law No. 16-1985, Art. 26.3)

The General Inventory will include any movable property that is part of Spain’s Historical Heritage that has not been declared of Cultural Interest, whose importance is solely based on their noteworthy historical, archeological, artistic, scientific, technical or cultural value…(Royal Decree No. 111-1986, Art. 24.1)

Property forming part of the documentary and bibliographical heritage that is of special importance shall be included in a special section of the General Inventory of movable property of the Spanish Historical Heritage…(Law No. 16-1985, Art 53)

Property declared of Cultural Interest shall be recorded in a General Register held by the State Administration…(Law No. 16-1985, Art. 12.1)

The purpose of the National Registry for assets of Cultural Interest is to enter and record any transaction that may affect the identification and placement of any asset that is part of Spain’s Historical Heritage that has been declared of Cultural Interest…(Royal Decree No. 111-1986, Art. 21.1)

III.  Export Restrictions

IV.  Ownership Rights and Restrictions

V.  Violations, Penalties and Sanctions

VI.  International Conventions and Bilateral Agreements
Click here to subscribe to IFAR's Art Law & Cultural Property Database to access this and other documents about U.S. and international legislation and case law concerning the acquisition, authenticity, export, ownership, and copyright of art objects.
Country Contact
for Cultural Property
D. Jesus Prieto de Pedro
Director General de Bellas Artes y Bienes Culturales
Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport
Plaza del Rey, 4th Floor
28071 Madrid

Dna. Elisa ed Cabo de la Vega
Subdirectora General de Proteccion del Patrimonio Historico
Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport
Plaza del Rey, 4th Floor
28071 Madrid

D. Carlos Gonzalez-Barandiaran y de Muller
Secretario de la Junta de Calificacoin, Valoracion, y Exportacion de Bienes del Patrimonio
Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport
Plaza del Rey, 4th Floor
28071 Madrid

Relevant U.S. Case Law