5 min article

Artefacts and cave formations policy

As there are laws and regulations around the sale of artefacts, fossils, relics, and cave formations, it’s important that listings follow our policy.

Artefacts and cave formations can have significant cultural value, and may be legally protected.

What is the policy?

  • Listings for artefacts, fossils and relics must follow all government regulations
  • Sellers listing items of potential Treasure found in England and Wales before 24 September 1997 should be able to provide proof that the items were reported under the law of Treasure Trove
  • Sellers listing items of potential Treasure found in England and Wales on or after 24 September 1997 should be able to provide proof that the items were reported under the Treasure Act
  • Sellers must be able to provide either Crown Disclaimer documents or the find's Treasure number and include these within their listing. Finds that do not fall under the definition of Treasure, but are recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme will have a unique reference number, which sellers should list
  • Sellers listing items found in Scotland should include a disclaimer certificate in the listing that shows items have been reported and that they have been given legal entitlement to be sold
  • Sellers listing items found in Northern Ireland should produce certification in their listing to show the items have been reported to the Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Service, or to the Ulster Museum
  • Sellers listing items found in the Republic of Ireland should be able to provide evidence that the items were properly reported under the National Monuments Act. Since ownership of archaeological objects automatically vests in the Irish State, sellers should also be able to provide evidence of a waiver of ownership from the relevant Minister
  • Archaeological finds that haven’t been reported in accordance with applicable law are not allowed

Listings for cave formations must follow all government regulations

  • Speleothems, stalactites and stalagmites taken from caves which have been designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest ('SSSI') may be listed only if a prior consent has been obtained from Natural England

Listings for Native American arts, crafts, and jewellery must follow all government regulations

  • Cultural goods are objects of historical, architectural or archaeological interest. Under EU law, cultural goods include:
    • Archaeological goods more than 100 years old
    • Pictures and paintings over 50 years old, where the value exceeds £119,000
    • Watercolours over 50 years old, where the value exceeds £23,800
    • Mosaics over 50 years old, where the value exceeds £11,900
    • Books over 100 years old, where the value exceeds £39,600
    • Manuscripts over 50 years old, whatever their value
    • Printed maps over 200 years old, where the value exceeds £11,900
    • Other items more than 100 years old, where the value exceeds £39,600
  • Export of antiquities and other cultural goods is subject to both UK, Irish and EU controls:
    • Under UK law, any item manufactured or produced more than 50 years before the date of exportation requires an export licence. Some exceptions mentioned above exist
    • Under Irish law, if the item is covered by the National Monuments Acts 1930-2004, the Documents and Pictures (Regulations of Export) Act 1945, or the National Cultural Institutions Act 1997, and is to be exported outside the Republic of Ireland, sellers should provide evidence that an export licence has been obtained from the relevant Minister
    • Under EU law, the export of cultural goods outside the EU needs an export licence
  • Sellers have to include the provenance or ownership history of the object in their listing
  • The following items can’t be sold on eBay:
    • Tainted cultural goods illegally excavated or removed after 30 December 2003 (UK's Dealing in Cultural Object (Offences) Act 2003)
    • Looted or stolen goods. The International Council of Museums' Red Lists Database identifies categories of cultural goods most vulnerable to illicit traffic

Listing for Archives:

  • The sale of public records documents is illegal. Restriction on selling these items is based on various laws including:
    • Public Record Act
    • Manorial Documents Rules
    • Tithe Rules
    • Parochial Records and Registers Measure
    • Local Government Act
    • Data Protection Act

Additional information

For more information on illicit traffic of cultural heritage items, please visit the UNESCO Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws. As part of the fight against the traffic of stolen works of art, Interpol encourages not only police, but also art and antiques dealers and owners of works of art to play an active role in the exchange of information about stolen works of art. You can find more information and resources on the Works of Art section of the Interpol website.

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.


Helpful links

In the UK

In the Republic of Ireland

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