Protection of cultural property; commitment to return

If foreign cultural property is to be lent temporarily for an exhibition in the Federal Republic, the lender may be given a legally binding promise that it will be returned at the appointed time.


If foreign cultural property is to be loaned for an exhibition in Germany, the lender is often concerned, in view of the often very eventful acquisition history of art objects, that third parties could make claims during the stay of this cultural property in Germany, the assertion of which in court could prevent a return as agreed. This can result in loan commitments or export permits not being granted. In order to dispel such concerns, the lender can be given a "legally binding promise of return" prior to the import of its cultural property, the effect of which is that the lender's claim for return cannot be countered by any rights asserted by third parties in respect of the cultural property.

In order to obtain a legally binding return commitment, which is often a prerequisite for the issuance of an export permit in the case of loan transactions, the borrowing institution (regardless of its legal nature, e.g. also private institutions) can apply for the issuance of the return commitment before importation into the federal territory to the competent supreme state authority of the state in which the exhibition is to take place.

In Bavaria, this is the Bavarian State Ministry for Science and Art. Before issuing the return commitment, the supreme state authority must obtain the consent of the central federal agency, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

The granting of the return commitment has the consequence that legal actions or other judicial measures to temporarily secure the cultural property during a stay in Germany are inadmissible. This means that the timely return of the cultural property to the lender cannot be prevented by measures taken by third parties. Once the promise of return has been given, it cannot be withdrawn for the period stated in it.


  • foreign cultural property that has not yet been imported into Germany at the time of application
  • foreign lender
  • domestic borrower
  • Cultural property is to be temporarily imported into Germany for the purpose of holding an exhibition in the Federal territory.


Application must be made to the Bavarian State Ministry of Science and Art for the issuance of the return commitment.

Before issuing the return commitment, it obtains the consent of the central federal agency, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.


The application must be submitted in good time before importation. Although there are no technical deadlines, it is strongly recommended to observe the corresponding lead time by submitting the application as early as possible.

Required documents

  • Information on lender and borrower

  • Information on the object on loan (brief description, inventory number...)

  • details of the intended exhibition (time, duration, place) and the agreed return time

  • Provenance

    (to be obtained at or otherwise professionally clarified provenance check


Please select a location in "Localization" so that the address of the responsible authority can be filled in.

  • Prefillable Form, Bavaria-wide: Formloser Antrag (mit Unterschrift)
    Please note

    This form has to be signed and sent to the responsible authority. You can sign the form manually and send it by email/fax or sign the form electronically with your qualified electronic signature an send it by (secure) email. If the responsible authority has set up a De-Mail account, you can also send the form by De-Mail using an sender-confirmed message.


  • None


Responsible for editing:Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst

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  • Online transactions, Bavaria-wide
  • Online transactions, locally limited
  • Form, Bavaria-wide
  • Form, locally limited
  • Prefillable Form, Bavaria-wide
  • Legal bases, Bavaria-wide
  • Legal bases, locally limited
  • Fees, Bavaria-wide
  • Fees, locally limited
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If you select a location under "Localization" the contact details of the responsible authority and, if applicable, locally valid information will be displayed.