Applying to have a moveable asset listed as national cultural heritage item

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Movable heritage refers to cultural assets, either movable as such or immovable by use, whose conservation and protection are of national public interest.

Moveable cultural assets may be listed. They include, for example, moveables:

  • created by (or with significant input from) a Luxembourg artist or artisan; or
  • created in Luxembourg; or
  • feature a representation of a Luxembourgish theme.

Who is concerned?

The following persons or organisations may apply to have a cultural asset listed:

  • the owners of the cultural asset;
  • foundations or non-profit organisations whose purpose is to safeguard heritage;
  • municipal authorities;
  • private individuals;
  • the Cultural Heritage Commission (Commission pour le patrimoine culturel - COPAC).

Note: the procedure can also be used by the Minister for Culture at their own initiative.


The assets listed below may be listed as national cultural heritage items.

Cultural assets:

  • created by a Luxembourg artist or artisan or with significant input from a Luxembourg artist or artisan; or
  • created in Luxembourg; or
  • originally created to be exhibited or installed in the public space or in a building in Luxembourg; or
  • which feature a representation of a Luxembourgish theme; or
  • which embody important aspects of the history and the history of art in Luxembourg; or
  • in the form of a collection assembled or used by a Luxembourg natural or legal person; or
  • created or commissioned by a legal person established under public law in Luxembourg, or a State body which preceded it; or
  • created by a Luxembourg manufacturer or private enterprise which is over 50 years old; or
  • which has been in Luxembourg for over 100 years.

Private archives in the sense of the law on archives.

Coinage or any coin-like item unearthed during archaeological digs in Luxembourg.

Coinage and banknotes issued by the Luxembourg authorities or by a private institution whose head office is, or was, in Luxembourg.


  • struck on the territory of the Earldom, the Duchy or the Grand Duchy prior to 1839; or
  • which belonged to a collection or set assembled within Luxembourg.


  • made either by a Luxembourg artist, or to mark an event in Luxembourg, or awarded to a person of Luxembourg nationality or resident in Luxembourg; or
  • which belonged to a collection or set assembled in Luxembourg.

Official decorations from Luxembourg.

Medals or decorations belonging to a set, or awarded to a Luxembourg personality in the context of an official function, with the exception of those which still belong to a foreign State.

As well as movables of archaeological heritage found in digs, or isolated discoveries in Luxembourg (including palaeontological, mineralogical, geological, scientific and natural items).

How to proceed

Filing an application

Applications to have a moveable listed as a national cultural heritage item must be submitted in writing to the Ministry of Culture.

The application must contain information about the applicant:

  • if they are a private individual: their surname and first name, profession, date and place of birth, and private address;
  • in they are a legal person: the company name, its legal form, the address of its registered office and its registration number in the Trade and Companies Register.

The application must also contain the following information:

  • the surname and first name of the cultural asset's owner;
  • a detailed description of the cultural asset in question which allows the minister to identify and analyse it;
  • the reasons why the cultural asset falls within the definition of cultural heritage items.

Supporting documents

The applicant must also attach supporting documents relating to the cultural asset to which the application pertains:

  • photos of the cultural asset;
  • any pertinent documentation containing scientific data and information on the historical, artistic and cultural background of the item;
  • any other item or document in support of the application.

Processing the application

Receipt of the application

If the application file is:

  • complete: a receipt will be issued within a month of receiving the application;
  • incomplete: the minister will inform the applicant that their application is not complete, and request additional documents/Information.

From the date on the receipt issued for listing application, the asset may be examined by officers from the Ministry of Culture, after having obtained:

  • the owner's prior written consent; or
  • if the owner refuses, a judicial order issued by the President of the district court, authorising the officers to inspect the asset.

Notification of the intention to list the asset

The minister will notify the owner, by registered letter, of their intention to list the asset as a cultural heritage item, so that they can present their own observations.

This notification contains:

  • a list of the conditions for listing; and
  • information about the potential entitlement to payment, upon request, of an indemnity to cover any losses arising as a result of the listing.

If the owner does not agree with the listing of the item, they may request the reversal of the decision to list it, by way of:

From the date of notification of the intention to list the item, all effects of its listing as a national heritage item will automatically apply, for a maximum period of 12 months.

The minister refers the matter to the COPAC for its opinion on the classification intention.

The owner's and the COPAC's opinions and observations must be submitted within 3 months of the date of notification of the intention to list the item. Past that deadline, the intention is will be deemed to have been accepted.

Listing of the asset

The listing of the asset will be formalised by way of a decree issued the Minister for Culture within 12 months of the issuance of the notification. Past that deadline, the listing procedure will lapse.

The decree formalising the listing of the asset as a national cultural heritage item will be sent by registered letter. That letter describes in detail the state and conditions of conservation of the cultural asset being listed. It is sent:

  • to the owner and to the holder (when different to the owner); and
  • to the person who submitted the application for protection.

The item will then be added to an online list of cultural assets listed as national cultural heritage items.

This list is:

  • published in the Luxembourg Official Gazette at least every 3 years;
  • regularly updated.

The catalogue of cultural assets listed as national cultural heritage items is reviewed at least every 3 years.


If necessary, an asset listed as a national cultural heritage item may be delisted at the request of the minister, the owners, the municipal authorities or the COPAC.

Assets are delisted by way of a decree issued by the Minister for Culture, on the advice of the COPAC.

The delisting decree will be sent to:

  • the owner (and the keeper, if different from the owner); and
  • where applicable, the person who submitted the application for protection.

Effects of listing

Cultural assets which are listed as national cultural heritage items:

  • are deemed to be inalienable;
  • cannot be permanently transferred outside of the national territory, except with a special exit permit.

If the asset needs to be altered, repaired or restored:

  • a written application for authorisation must be sent to the Minister for Culture at least 3 months before the planned start of the work;
  • the minister may seek the COPAC's opinion before deciding on the matter.

The minister's decision must be communicated to the interested parties within 3 months of receiving the request for authorisation. Past that deadline, the request will be automatically granted.


Substitution for an incapable owner

The owner or holder of an asset listed as a cultural heritage item must present the asset to officers of the Ministry of Culture, and allow them access to it.

When the state of conservation of the asset is under threat, the minister may, by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt, serve the owner with a notice to implement the necessary conservation measures.

In addition to the reasons for the requirement, the notice will specify:

  • the conservation measures which the owner is required to implement;
  • how long the owner has to implement the measures; and
  • whether or not the owner is entitled to subsidies from the State.

The minister may, with the express authorisation of the President of the district court, issue an emergency order for the implementation of the required conservation measures (including for listed cultural assets whose owners are domiciled abroad) when:

  • the preservation or state of conservation of the asset listed as a national cultural heritage item is under threat; or
  • the owner is unwilling, or unable, to implement the necessary conservation measures immediately.

Where necessary, the minister may order the item's temporary transfer to a site which provides the required conditions for its conservation and safety. That transfer may not exceed one year from the date of the transfer order, unless the owner agrees otherwise.

The owner:

  • may recover possession of the asset if they can prove that its state of conservation is equivalent to that ordered by the judge;
  • must reimburse the State for the portion of the cost of the conservation work for which they are liable.

Obligations and due diligence when disposing of/ceding a cultural asset

Disposal of listed cultural assets

There are specific rules governing the disposal of cultural assets listed as national monuments. The seller must inform:

  • the buyer that the asset is listed; and
  • the minister of any unintended loss or disappearance of a listed cultural asset, as soon as such loss/disappearance is becomes known.

Cultural assets which are part of a public collection are inalienable and imprescriptible. However, by way of a decision handed down by the Minister for Culture, with the agreement of the COPAC, they may be declared as no longer belonging to public collections.

A distinction must be drawn between assets:

  • which belong to the State. such assets are:
    • inalienable, subject to a fine; and
    • unseizable: any seizure will be null and void;
  • which do not belong to the State: the owner must notify the minister of the disposal of an asset at least 1 month before the disposal;
  • which belong to a municipality or a public-sector establishment: such assets may be disposed of only with the minister's written approval.
Sale of listed cultural assets

Cultural assets may not be sold without a number of prior checks. The seller must ascertain that the asset:

  • has not been illegally removed from its rightful owner;
  • has not been illegally imported into the country;
  • was not unearthed during illegal digs;
  • was not illegally exported from a State in violation of the laws applicable in the State where the asset originated.

An asset is presumed to fall into one of the 4 categories mentioned above, if:

  • when previously bought, the asking price was abnormally low, in the absence of any other explanation; or
  • the seller demanded payment in cash where the sale price was more than EUR 5,000.

Individuals whose professions involve trading in cultural assets (including sale by auction) are subject to additional obligations pertaining to all cultural assets that they value at over EUR 2,500. They are required to:

  • inform the buyer of the import and export regulations in force in Luxembourg;
  • establish the identity of the owner and the seller of the asset;
  • employ their best efforts to ensure the asset has been obtained legally;
  • keep a record of sales and purchases of cultural assets, including the asset's origin, the name and contact details of the supplier/seller and of the buyer, and the price at which the asset was purchased or sold;
  • provide, at the minister's request, all necessary information regarding the performance of due diligence.

The State also has the right of pre-emption. The State must inform the buyer within 15 days of the disposal if it intends to exercise that right, else the entitlement will lapse.

Who to contact

Ministry of Culture

Related procedures and links


Grant for the restoration and showcasing of cultural assets classified as national cultural heritage


Legal references

  • Loi du 25 février 2022

    relative au patrimoine culturel

  • Règlement grand-ducal du 9 mars 2022

    déterminant les modalités de saisine et les documents à joindre à la demande de protection d’un bien culturel relevant du patrimoine mobilier comme patrimoine culturel national et les pièces à joindre à la demande d’autorisation d’opérations sur un bien culturel relevant du patrimoine mobilier classé comme patrimoine culturel national.

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