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Country Summary for ICELAND

I.  Relevant Legislation
II.  Regulated Cultural Property


'Cultural Heritage'—

(1) ancient objects and pieces of artistic, historical, or religious objects that have been removed from them prior to 1900;
(2) photographs, original sculpture, mosaics, paintings, watercolors, pastels, drawings, original engravings, lithographs and posters greater or equal to 50 years old;
(3) Icelandic books and manuscripts from before 1800, other books more than 100 years old, and other manuscripts, including maps and musical scores, more than 50 years old;
(4) zoological, botanical, geological, and biological collections that are valuable for history, paleontology, anthropology, or numismatics;
(5) transportation equipment and historical work tools more than 75 years old;
(6) furniture and other interior fittings, musical instruments made in Iceland, devices and utensils made of wood, horn or bone, and costumes andembroidery from before 1900; and
(7) objects made of gold, silver, or ivory objects. (CH §45)

'Architectural Heritage'—buildings and structures of cultural-historical, scientific and artistic value such as unique buildings, places of worship, clock towers, bridges and any other type of transportation structure, water mills, shipyards, and lighthouses. (CH §4)

'National Heritage'—immovable or movable Artifacts that have special significance to the cultural history of Iceland. These objects are protected and preserved in the National Museum of Iceland or in another museum the National Museum’s behalf. (CH §2)

'National Treasure'—any type of object, item, picture, document, manuscript, or book that has special relevance to Icelandic national culture. (CH §§2 & 44)

'Artifacts'—ancient relics, cultural and settlement landscapes, ecclesiastical items and memorials, buildings, ships and boats, transportation carriers, art objects and tools, and pictures or other documentation of the cultural history of the people. (CH §1)


'Archeological Remains'—
(a) architectural heritage;
(b) fishing worksites, peat pits, and iron works;
(c) remains of corrals, irrigation structures, and field fences;
(d) forts and barricades;
(e) alters, temples, shrines, wells, and enchanting sites;
(f) inscriptions, pictures, and other evidence of man in caves;ancient grave mounds and megalithic graves; and
(g) shipwrecks. (CH §3)


'Antiques'—old objects that are archaeological remains, including ships or boats created before 1950. (CH §3)


'Ancient Objects'—
(a) movable objects greater than or equal to 100 years old that people have
(b) man-made objects found in the ground, on a glacier, or in the water; and
(c) archaeological Remains or human bodies and animal carcasses that are part of Archaeological Remains. (CH §3)


'Main Museums'—National Gallery of Iceland, the Icelandic Museum of Natural History, and the National Museum of Iceland. (MA §8)


The Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland maintains lists of all preserved and protected archaeological sites, tombstones, memorials, and preserved and protected buildings and structures. (CH §§11 & 41)

Relevant State Agencies

The Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland (the “Agency”) is responsible for making proposals to the Minister of Cultural for policy on the protection and preservation of cultural heritage. The Agency also supervises archaeological sites and instigates emergency research and site investigations. All archaeological remains, buildings, and structures must be registered with the Agency before municipal plans can be finalized. (CH §§7, 11 & 16).

III.  Export Restrictions

IV.  Ownership Rights and Restrictions

V.  Violations, Penalties and Sanctions

VI.  International Conventions and Bilateral Agreements
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Country Contact
for Cultural Property
(Matters of National Heritage and Antiquities):
Dr. Kristín Huld Sigurðardóttir
Director General
Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland
Suðurgatu 39, 101 Reykjavík
Ph: +354 570 1300
F: +354 570 1301

(Laws Concerning Heritage, Antiquity, Arts, Cultural Patrimony and Export of Cultural Objects):
Mrs. Karitas H. Gunnarsdottir
Director of Cultural Department
Ministry of Education, Science and Culture
Solvholsgata 4
IS-150 Reykjavik
Ph: +354 545 9500
F: +354 562 3068

Safnarad (Museum Council of Iceland)
Listasafni Islands
Laufasvegi 12, 101 Reykjavik
Ph: +354 515 9605
F: +354 515 9601