I. Cultural Property Agreement with the U.S.

On January 14, 2014, the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Bulgaria entered into a bilateral agreement (PDF), or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), to protect categories archaeological material ranging in date from 7,500 B.C. to approximately 1750 A.D., and categories of ethnological material ranging in date from 681 A.D. to approximately 1750 A.D.

Marcie B. Ries and Minister of Culture Dr. Petar Stoyanovich signed the agreement at the National Museum of History in Sofia, Bulgaria.

ambassador signing the MOU

II. Summary of the Basis for the Agreement

This agreement is in response to a request from Government of the Republic of Bulgaria seeking protection of its cultural heritage pursuant to Article 9 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. (PDF)

The import restrictions are intended to reduce the incentive for pillage and trafficking in cultural objects. Reports from Bulgaria describe pillage of archaeological sites as a phenomenon plaguing the entire country, especially regions that are sparsely populated and have high concentrations of sites, such as Central and Southern Bulgaria, and along the Danube River. It is also reported that churches and other religious institutions are suffering losses of ecclesiastical material.

The agreement is consistent with the recommendation of the State Department’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee.

III. Categories of Objects Subject to Import Restriction

The categories of archaeological materials covered by the import restriction include objects made of stone, metal, bone, ivory, textiles, wood, glass, parchment, painting, mosaics, and other material. The restricted archaeological material represents the Neolithic period (7500 B.C.) through approximately 1750 A. D., and the restricted ecclesiastical ethnological material represents Bulgaria's Middle Ages (681 A.D.) through approximately 1750 A.D.

A detailed description of the object types covered by this agreement may be found in the Designated List (PDF), published in the Federal Register by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of the Treasury.

IV. Import Restrictions

Objects from categories described in the Designated List may enter the U.S. only if they are accompanied by an export permit issued by the appropriate authority in the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria, or by verifiable documentation indicating that they left Bulgaria prior to the effective date of the restriction: January 15, 2014.

V. For More Information

United States: Cultural Heritage Center (culprop@state.gov)

Ministry of Culture
Address: 17, “Al. Stamboliiski” Blvd.
Tel: +359/2/9400909

Bilateral Agreements

Learn more about the agreements countries have signed with the U.S. to protect cultural artifacts.


Telephone: 202-632-6301

Fax: 202-632-6300