Artefacts and cave formations can have significant cultural value, and may be legally protected.
What is the policy?
- Items obtained from government or protected land, historical grave sites or shipwrecks can't be sold on eBay
- Listings for artefacts, fossils and relics must:
- Follow all government regulations
- Be authentic and listed in the appropriate category
- Listings for replicas must:
- State that the item is a replica in the title and description
- Be listed in the Reproduction or Fantasy category, as appropriate
- Listings for antiquities must include the provenance or ownership history of the item and, where possible, a photo or scanned image of an official document that includes both the item's country of origin and the legal details of the sale. The official document must also state that the item is approved for import or export
- Looted or stolen goods can't be sold on eBay. See the INTERPOL Stolen Works of Art Database - opens in new window or tab as well as the International Council of Museums Red Lists Database - opens in new window or tab, which identifies categories of cultural goods most vulnerable to illicit traffic
Listings for Australian cultural heritage items must follow all government regulations
- eBay supports the recognition of Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property, and sellers must not list, sell or promote materials, products or services which use Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property in an unauthorised way. For more information, please see Arts Law Centre of Australia - opens in new window or tab
- Relics from historic shipwrecks may be listed within Australia provided that the seller has obtained the appropriate permit - opens in new window or tab, and displays a copy of the permit in their listing. (Note: The buyer is also obliged to submit a notification of their purchase - opens in new window or tab within 30 days)
- Class A protected objects on the National Cultural Heritage Control List can't be exported from Australia. Listings for items which are otherwise allowed under this policy may not offer international postage
- Listings for Class B protected objects on the National Cultural Heritage Control List, which are otherwise allowed under this policy, must include the relevant export permit if international postage is offered
- Items considered sacred by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander persons can't be sold on eBay
The information on this page can help assist sellers trade lawfully on eBay. eBay cannot assess the authenticity of specific artefacts or whether their sale is lawful. Sellers are responsible for ensuring that their transactions are lawful.
For more information on the illicit traffic of cultural heritage items, please visit the UNESCO Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws - opens in new window or tab.
As part of the fight against the traffic of stolen works of art, INTERPOL encourages not only law enforcement agencies, but also art and antiques dealers, owners of works of art and the general public to play an active role in the exchange of information about stolen works of art:
- INTERPOL ID-Art mobile app - opens in new window or tab enables users to identify stolen cultural property and to get mobile access to the INTERPOL Stolen Works of Art Database - opens in new window or tab
- You can find more information and resources on the Cultural Heritage Crime section of the Interpol website - opens in new window or tab
A brief summary of the relevant legislation is outlined below. For any questions regarding the right to sell an artefact within Australia or overseas, we recommend sellers either contact the relevant government department and/or consult with a lawyer.
Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage (PMCH) Act 1986
Cultural property – objects that people create or collect – forms an important part of a nation's identity and can be artistic, technological, historical or natural in origin. National and international cultural property is protected in Australia and administered by the Office for the Arts - opens in new window or tab.
The National Cultural Heritage Control List - opens in new window or tab sets out whether certain objects may be exported:
- Class A protected objects can't be exported from Australia. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Victoria Cross medals awarded to Australian service personnel
- Significant items of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage, such as rock art and ritual objects
- Class B protected objects require a permit to be exported. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Coins and other artefacts from historic shipwrecks
- Items of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage
- Archaeological objects
- Natural science objects such as meteor fragments
Underwater Cultural Heritage Act 2018
Per the Underwater Cultural Heritage Act 2018 - opens in new window or tab, it is illegal to disturb or remove items from historic shipwrecks without a permit. However, the law does provide ways in which dealers and collectors can legally purchase or sell coins and other relics or artefacts. Visit the website of the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water for more information about the Underwater Cultural Heritage Act 2018 - opens in new window or tab and the possessing, exporting and importing of underwater cultural heritage - opens in new window or tab.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 (ATSIHP Act) can protect areas and objects that are of particular significance to Aboriginal people. The ATSIHP Act allows the Environment Minister, on the application of an Aboriginal person or group of persons, to make a declaration to protect an area, object, or class of objects, from a threat of injury or desecration.
Visit the website of the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water for more information about indigenous heritage laws - opens in new window or tab.
Activity that doesn't follow eBay policy could result in a range of actions including for example: administratively ending or cancelling listings, hiding or demoting all listings from search results, lowering seller rating, buying or selling restrictions, and account suspension. All fees paid or payable in relation to listings or accounts on which we take any action will not be refunded or otherwise credited to your account.
Visit Seller Help to find details of any policy issues with your account or listings, and get the information you need to quickly resolve them.
Why does eBay have this policy?
This policy helps protect items of significant cultural value, and ensures that important government regulations are followed.
- Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water - opens in new window or tab
- Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts - opens in new window or tab
- Australian Border Force - opens in new window or tab
- International Council of Museums Red Lists - opens in new window or tab
- Works of Art section of the Interpol website - opens in new window or tab