Photo Guides for Import Restrictions

The U.S. Department of State has worked with the countries below to create photo guides to help law enforcement and the public identify cultural objects subject to U.S. import restrictions. The objects that appear in these guides are examples of the types of items from each country that cannot enter the United States without proper documentation.


Archaeological material from the Bronze age through the Khmer era.

el salvador
El Salvador

Archaeological material predating European conquest.

guatemala pattern

Archaeological material predating European conquest, Colonial period church material.

image of protected item

Archaeological material representing the Pre-Classical, Classical, and Imperial Roman periods.

peru cultural pattern

Archaeological material predating European conquest, Colonial period indigenous and church material.

Over time, photo guides will be added for other countries for which the State Department is responsible for special laws and international agreements that restrict import of categories of archaeological and ethnological objects. These are Belize, Bolivia, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Cyprus, Greece, Iraq, Mali, Nicaragua, and Syria.

Consult U.S. Customs and Border Protection for additional U.S. laws that apply to the import of cultural objects from any country. In addition, be aware that most countries have laws to protect their cultural property, including export controls and/or national ownership laws. Typically, countries only allow temporary export of cultural property for exhibition or scientific study. If you plan to import art or antiquities, it is good practice to have an export certificate from the country of origin and verifiable documentation of provenance available for inspection by Customs and Border Protection.