I. Emergency Import Restrictions

On August 15, 2016, the United States imposed emergency import restrictions on archaeological and ethnological material of Syria. These restrictions pertain to cultural property, as defined in section 302 of the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (PDF), that was unlawfully removed from Syria on or after March 15, 2011.

II. Summary of the Basis for the Restrictions

The basis for these restrictions is the Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act (PDF), which directs the President “to exercise [his] authority under section 304 of the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (19 U.S.C. 2603) to impose import restrictions set forth in section 307 of that Act (19 U.S.C. 2606) with respect to any archaeological or ethnological material of Syria.”

The restrictions are in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2199, which condemns the destruction of cultural heritage in Syria and calls on Member States to prevent the trade in Syrian cultural property. This includes prohibiting cross-border trade in objects of archaeological, historical, cultural, rare scientific, and religious importance illegally removed from Syria since March 15, 2011.

III. Categories of Artifacts Subject to Import Restriction

A detailed description of the types of objects or categories of material covered may be found in the Designated List (PDF), published in the Federal Register by Customs and Border Protection and the Department of the Treasury. The restrictions cover archaeological and ethnological items from Syria, from prehistory through approximately 1920, including but not limited to objects of stone, metal, ceramic, wood, glass, ivory, textile, parchment, painting, and mosaic.

IV. Import Restrictions

Archaeological and ethnological objects unlawfully removed from Syria may not enter the United States unless accompanied by documentation that they left Syria prior to March 15, 2011 or a waiver of the import restrictions is granted pursuant to section 3(c) of the Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act (PDF).

V. For More Information

The Cultural Heritage Center (

Bilateral Agreements

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