The Law Regarding Metal Detecting 
Outside the United Kingdom (including Jersey)

Amended November 2008

This report has been written to provide available information on the law in other 
countries. Every effort has been made to verify its correctness but anyone wishing 
to metal detect overseas should satisfy themselves of the legal situation at the
time they intend traveling.


Austria, BELGIUM, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany
Greece , Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Israel,
  Italy, Jersey. Liechtenstein,Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands,
  Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey


The use of metal detectors in archaeological contexts on land or underwater requires an excavation permission issued by the Austrian Federal Monument Authority (Bundesdenkmalamt) because such use is considered to constitute an `excavation for the purpose of discovery and exploration of movable and immovable monuments' in the sense of Section II of the Austrian law for the protection of monuments. Such permissions are in general not issued to private individuals.


These definition are or Flanders only.

A metal detectorist is someone who is working with a metal detector to detect archaeological sites or artefacts. From the date of 1 January 2015 you require for this activity an acknowledgment (in the form of a permit reached out by the concerning department). Conditions Whoever wants to be recognized to be operating with a metal detecting device, must meet the following conditions: • To be at least 18 years old. • The last five years not have been convicted of an offense or crime in the area of real Heritage • To be acting according to the requirements of the Heritage Decree. This requires a basic knowledge of archaeological heritage conservation and the established code of good practice. Procedure A designation as recognized detectorist can be applied from 1 January 2015. After a maximum of four months (of an acceptable and approved application by the Agency) the then recognized detectorist receives identification. This can be used only when the chapter on Archaeology of the decree enters into law. A designation as a recognized metal detectorist is of indefinite duration but can be evaluated by the agency and repealed if there are any irregularities Note To search with a metal detector you don't need a license if you're not looking for archaeological material. Beach Search, lost jewellery tracking, manhole covers, power lines, meteorites ... can all be searched for unlicensed. When you find valuable archaeological objects while searching for such objects, you are still obliged to report it as the law requires. What is an "accidental" archaeological find? In practice it is difficult for a non-expert eye to distinguish important from a trivial discovery. Report it is therefore better too report much than too little, for what at first does not seem interesting, can later be of great importance. The legislator already used this definition: "all remains and objects and any other traces of human existence, which bear witness to epochs and civilizations for which excavations or discoveries are a significant source of information, catalogued into fixed and movable archaeological monuments." Rules of thumb The chance discovery occurred in Flanders until the Middle Ages: report all finds Later periods: report only the concentration of finds World Wars: all finds should be reported The upper time limit of the report's findings reaches to the end of World War II . Not only report the "nice" finds out of a collection, but the whole collection When in doubt, report finding What you do not mention: hunting shells, buttons, ...


Under Section 2(1) (a) of the antiquities law of 1935 (amended 1973) any object 
whether movable or part of immovable property is protected by law.

Section 14 (1) states that ` no person shall excavate or cause excavations to be made whether on his own land or elsewhere for the purpose of discovering antiquities without a license'.

Although not specifically mentioning metal detectors, section 14(1) implicitly rules
them out, nor can a landowner legally give permission for a search to be carried 
out if it results in excavation.



There are a number of historical and archaeological sites where it is totally 
forbidden to use a metal detector.

On public land it is the local community that decides whether metal detectors may be used. It is estimated that approximately 50% of the public land is closed to metal detecting.

On public woodland the forest superv isor decides whether or not a metal detector may be used. In most cases permission is not granted.

There is hardly any problem on public beaches as to forbid metal detecting would discriminate against a class of people and, therefore, a child would not be able to use a bucket and spade etc.

Apart from seeking permission of the landowner, no restrictions on private land.


Any coins minted after the coin reform in the 16th century (excact year is 1536 and onwards with the excemption of silver coins weighing more than 9 g and any gold coin regardless of weight) can be retained by the finder. All Coins older than 1536 (as well as any gold coin and silver coins weighing more than 9 g regardless of year) and artefacts must be delivered to the Local museum that will forward the coin or artefact to the National Museum. The finder is awarded a cash sum for the find although, as this is determined by the National Museum, the reward is normally below the market value. It is very rare that the finder is allowed to keep his find if the artefact is of historical value. Local detectorists do however often get artefacts returned by the National Museum.


Archaeologists recognise the benefits to be derived from seeking cooperation not confrontation and this is improving the relationship.

The method of calculating rewards is being challenged by the media and will probably result in change in the future.


All moveable objects, such as coins, weapons etc over one hundred years old should be reported with an indication of context (Antiquities Act 1963, Section 16).

This legislation does not rule out the use of metal detectors.


The use of metal detectors was controlled by the use of the war time Patrimony Act 1941 but, on the 18 December 1989 Law Number 89-900 (NOR: MCCX8900 163L) was adopted. However see appendix (L542) adopted in 2004.

Article 1: No one may use metal detecting equipment for the purpose of searching for monuments and objects which could interest (concern?) prehistory, history, art or archaeology without first having obtained administrative authorisation issued according to the qualification of the applicant and also the nature and method of searching.

Article 2: All publicity and instructions on the use of metal detectors must carry the warning of the prohibition stated in Article 1, the penalties involved and also the reason for this legislation.

Article 3: Every infringement of the present law will be noted by officers, police agents and other law enforcement officers, as well as by officials, agents and guardians of Article 3 of the law number 80-532 of 15 July 1980 relative to the protection of public collections against acts of vandalism.

Article 4: The reports drawn up by the various persons designated by Article 3 above will, until proved to the contrary, be given or sent, without delay, to the public prosecutor of the Republic in the jurisdiction where the offence was committed.

Under French law the enactment of legislation is followed by the Decree which determines how the law will be applied. In this case the Decree states:

Article 1 The authorisation to use metal detectors, provided for by Article1 of the 18 December 1989 Law is granted, on the demand of the interested party, by the license of the Prefect of the region in which the land to be searched is situated.

The request for authorisation must establish the identity, competence and experience of the applicant as well as the location, scientific objective and the duration of the searches to be undertaken.

When the searches are to be carried out on land which does not belong to the applicant, the written application must be accompanied by a document of consent written by the owner of the land and, if appropriate, anyone else who has the right.

Article 2 Anyone who uses a metal detector to carry out searches of the sort described in Article 1 of the Law without having first obtained the authorisation required or who does not observe the requirements described in Article 1 of this Decree will be punished by the fine applicable for contraventions of the fifth class. 
The equipment used in the infringement will be confiscated.

Article 3 Whoever publicises or draws up publicity for, or draw up information about the use of metal detectors and fails to draw attention to the requirements of Article 2 of the Law will be punished according to the penalties applicable for offences of the fifth class.

Beaches are believed to be outside this Law.

Appendix (L542)
Art L542: No one can use equipment allowing metal target detection, to search monuments for objects of interest to pre-history, history, art or archaeology, without having first obtained an administrative authorisation, which may be given depending on the qualification of the applicant, as well as the nature of and reason for the research. Those who contravine are liable ti fines within the band class 5. The purpose of this regulation is the protection of archaeological sites. The authorisation of archaeological research using metal detectors requires the permission of the prefect of the area concerned.


The 1992 law on the search for, and preservation of antiquities, covers all objects belonging to the ancient period, early Christianity and the Middle Ages.

Excavation requires a licence and work may not be carried out, without permission, near an antiquity in such a way as to affect it directly or indirectly. All accidental discoveries must be reported. Rewards are made equal to 50% of value if found on public land and 100% if on private land.

Although the 1932 Act does not refer to metal detectors, any items found by its use are covered by the Act.


Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 No. 1625 (N.I. 9)

The Treasure Act 1996 Applies in Northern Ireland, However the law relating to searching for archaeological object differs from England and Wales.


Restriction on searching for archaeological objects, etc.

41. — (1) Any person who, except under and in accordance with any conditions attached to a licence issued by the Department under this Article, excavates in or under any land (whether or not such excavation involves the removal of the surface of the land) for the purpose of searching generally for archaeological objects or of searching for, exposing or examining any particular structure or thing of archaeological interest shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.

Restrictions on use of metal detectors

(1)If a person uses a metal detector in a protected place without the written consent of the [F1Commission (in a case of a place situated in England) or of the Secretary of State (in any other case)] he shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction or, in Scotland, on conviction before a court of summary jurisdiction, to a fine not exceeding [F2level 3 on the standard scale].
(2)In this section—

  • “metal detector” means any device designed or adapted for detecting or locating any metal or mineral in the ground; and
  • “protected place” means any place which is either—

(a)the site of a scheduled monument or of any monument under the ownership or guardianship of the Secretary of State [F3or the Commission] or a local authority by virtue of this Act; or
(b)situated in an area of archaeological importance.
(3)If a person without [F4written consent] removes any object of archaeological or historical interest which he has discovered by the use of a metal detector in a protected place he shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or on conviction on indictment to a fine.
[F5The reference in this subsection to written consent is to that of the Commission (where the place in question is situated in England) or of the Secretary of State (in any other case)]
(4)A consent granted by the Secretary of State [F6or the Commission] for the purposes of this section may be granted either unconditionally or subject to conditions.
(5)If any person—
(a)in using a metal detector in a protected place in accordance with any consent granted by the Secretary of State [F6or the Commission] for the purposes of this section; or
(b)in removing or otherwise dealing with any object which he has discovered by the use of a metal detector in a protected place in accordance with any such consent;
fails to comply with any condition attached to the consent, he shall be guilty of an offence and liable, in a case falling within paragraph (a) above, to the penalty provided by subsection (1) above, and in a case falling within paragraph (b) above, to the penalty provided by subsection (3) above.
(6)In any proceedings for an offence under subsection (1) above, it shall be a defence for the accused to prove that he used the metal detector for a purpose other than detecting or locating objects of archaeological or historical interest.
(7)In any proceedings for an offence under subsection (1) or (3) above, it shall be a defence for the accused to prove that he had taken all reasonable precautions to find out whether the place where he used the metal detector was a protected place and did not believe that it was.
Amendments (Textual)
F1Words substituted by National Heritage Act 1983 (c. 47, SIF 78), s. 41, Sch. 4 para. 60(2)(6)
F2Words substituted by virtue of Criminal Justice Act 1982 (c. 48), s. 46 and Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1975 (c. 21), s. 289G (as inserted by Criminal Justice Act 1982 (c. 48), s. 54)
F3Words inserted by National Heritage Act 1983 (c. 47, SIF 78), s. 41, Sch. 4 para. 60(3)(6)
F4Words substituted by National Heritage Act 1983 (c. 47, SIF 78), s. 41, Sch. 4 para. 60(4)(6)
F5Words inserted by National Heritage Act 1983 (c. 47, SIF 78), s. 41, Sch. 4 para. 60(4)(6)
F6Words inserted by National Heritage Act 1983 (c. 47, SIF 78), s. 41, Sch. 4 para. 60(5)(6)
Modifications etc. (not altering text)
C1S. 42(1) excluded (18.12.1996) by 1996 c. 61, s. 12, Sch. 7 para. 4(12)
C2S. 42(3) excluded (18.12.1996) by 1996 c. 61, s. 12, Sch. 7 para. 4(13

The National Monuments (Amendment) Act 
(Section 2) states:

Subject to the provisions of this section a person shall not:

1a: Use or be in possession of a detection device in, or at the site of, a monument 
of which the Commissioners or a local authority are the owners or guardians or in 
respect of which a preservation order is in force or which stands registered in the 
Register or

2a. in an archaeological area that stands registered in the Register or 

3a. in a Registered area


b: Use, at a place other than a place specified in paragraph a of this subsection, a detection device for the purpose of searching for archaeological objects or

c: Promote, whether by advertising or otherwise, the sale or use of detection 
devices for the purpose of searching for archaeological objects.

Note: `Archaeological area' is defined as ` an area which the Commissioners 
consider to be of archaeological importance but does not include the area of a 
historical monument standing entered in the Register'.

Section 40 states that `Where in a prosecution for an offence under this section it 
is proved that a detection device was used, it shall be presumed until the contrary 
is proved that the device was being used for the purpose of searching for 
archaeological objects'.


The Antiquities Act 1978, Section 9a states that `no person shall excavate in a private property for the purpose of discovering antiquities, nor search for antiquities in any other manner, including the use of metal detectors, nor gather antiquities unless he has received a licence for such from the Director. Breach of this section carries a liability to imprisonment for a term of 3 years or a fine of =A3150,000'.

Section 38 of the same Act states that `any person found on an antiquity site, in whose possession or in whose immediate vicinity are found excavation tools and it can be assumed that they were recently used in excavation work at the site, or in whose possession or in whose immediate vicinity is found a metal detector, is presumed to have intended to discover antiquities unless he proves that he has no such intention.


Although it is not illegal to buy a metal detector in Italy, there are strict rules on where you can metal detect.
There are many historical and protected archaeological areas where metal detecting is not allowed which are published by the Ityalian Government.
Metal detecting is allowed on areas which are not designated as such provided you have permission from the landowner.
Historical, Artistic and Archaeological objects as defined in law No42 January 2004 cannot be exported without an export licence.
If you discover any object of historical or archaeological importance as covered by the above law, metal detecting must cease and the find reported within 24 hours.
All Archaeological finds are the property of the state and must be reported to carabinieri/local Superintendency of Arts.
A Reward may be offered up to 10% of the value of the find.
The selling of archaeological objects is forbidden and all coins over 50 years old are considered historical.

It should also be noted that in val d’Aosta and Veneto and Trentino (north part of Italy ) there are some local and regional ristrictions in place due to the large ammount of WWI and WWII amunition being discovered.
It is advisable therefore to ask the “Comune” or “Provincia” which are responsible for those districts or townships before venturing onto any land.

Thanks to Edoardo Meacci for the latest information.



Metal detecting in Jersey is primary a beach/foreshore activity around the island.
Unless, you have permission by a land owner to search there fields, so long as there is
no archaeological monument within the land, or other sites as stated below having an
SSI status... the area’s to avoid are: St. Ouen inland dunes at the 5 mile road, also
Jersey/National Trust land, and historic sites/buildings as expected.

We have no treasure trove law in Jersey, however there are four things to consider that are in law, operating as statute for control within, our hobby on the Island ...

(1). Parks and Common Land areas are subject to policing, these are no-go-areas.

(2). SSI - Sights of Special Interest, cover all historic sites and buildings in jersey, these are no-go-areas, “with one exception as below” (a).

(a). However, one Extended Beach Area, starting from La Collette in St. Helier, East Coast going around Northward through to Greve D’Azette, Green Island, Le Hocq, La Rocque, and into the bay of Grouville upto Gorey Harbour, allows you to beach detect and recover finds in these areas, but keep in mind the sites marine environment, this is why it has an SSI placed on it.

(3). Metals of Gold/Silver, rings or the like with person/persons loss incurred, requires the finder to take the item into our police station, at Rouge Bouillon in St Helier ; where details would be taken and if the item is not claimed, it becomes either crown property, or returned to the finder in time.

(4). Lastly, Jersey has a Custom & Excise Law, policing objects of historic interest, and are restricted from going out of the island, without a license...
So if you recover a find or finds that have a date of 50 years or more, you need a Custom Licence No. 108, to be granted export for the find after the find/object has been assessed by our Jersey Heritage Trust, at La Houge Bie Museum to determine its context for recording, and for the islands history the museum might, buy the find.

Its likely, you will recover mainly recent and Victorian, plus badly worn 1600 French coinage, also the usual dross left behind towards the top of the beach, however rings can be a good source particularly very thin ones, if you have a detector good at recovering thin gold and silver, you could do well; so good luck, and if your a visitor to the island, enjoy your stay.

Jersey Metal Detecting Society: 2004/5.


The 1977 Monument Protection Act requires the declaration of any antiquities 
found in the soil. A government permit is necessary for archaeological excavations.


Pursuant Law on protection of movable cultural valuables (article 14) all movable cultural valuables, underlying in ground, on it, in water, premises and buildings or in their parts, if they have cultural value and their owner can not be established shall belong to the State. Searching of these objects by digging or using metal detectors or any other searching equipment shall be allowed only having permission from competent governmental body. If any mentioned objects are found by accident – the person who finds them shall within 1 week provide them to Department of Cultural Heritage for evaluation. If the provided objects have historical, cultural or archeological value – the person who found the objects shall receive remuneration pursuant legal acts. Infringement of above law can result following sanctions (pursuant article 91 of the Code of Administrative infringements): warning or fine from EUR 144 to EUR 870.


The 1966 Act on excavations and movable cultural objects states that `all search and excavations with the aim of discovery or bringing to light objects or sites of historical interest can only be made with the authorisation of the Minister for Arts and Sciences'.

The use of metal detecting for unauthorised searching is widespread and, in the view of the Ministry of Justice, is in contravention of the law.


The 1925 - 1974 Antiquities Protection Act affords protection to all objects, both movable and immovable, which are more than 50 years old. Excavation can only be carried out with government authorisation (Article 1). The reporting of accidental finds is compulsory (Article 10).

Since 1979 there has been a ban on the import of any metal detectors of sufficient sensitivity to be of any danger to archaeological sites.


Information to follow.


Section 4 of the Cultural Heritage Act 1978 lists a wide range of specified objects, both fixed and movable, dating from before 1937 which are protected. 
Section 3 also provides protection from unauthorised excavation. The ownership of all objects older than 1537 and of coins older that 1650 is vested in the State (Section 12, a and b). Section 13 requires that all finds should be reported to the authorities who will fix a suitable reward. There is no specific reference to metal detectors.


There has been some new legislation introduced recently which prohibits searching for archaeological material without a permit. To obtain a permit, please apply to the Ministry of Culture in Portugal

More information will be available soon.


The Spanish Tourist Office in London advises in their General Information sheet:

Metal Detectors: The use of metal detectors is not allowed unless an import license for the detector has previously been issued. Further enquiries should be made to the Spanish Commercial Office.

The Commercial Office at the Spanish Embassy, if asked, provide the following written information:

1. The use of metal detectors could involve considerations of the Law and Regulations governing artistic or archaeological finds, involving national heritage and treasure trove, as provided by the very detailed Law of 25th June 1985 (Historical Heritage); and the Royal Decree of 10th January 1986 which develops it.

2. If anything is found, therefore, it would be necessary to comply with the complex procedures outlined in these enactments; and it would certainly not be possible for any finds to be taken out of Spain until the proper Authorities had given their consent. That could take months; and if the article in question is classified as part of the national artistic heritage, and/or is over 100 years old, it is not likely to receive an export permit either at all, or for a very long time, owing to the complexity of the procedures.

The second aspect is a technical one. The Royal Decree of 25th November 1987, which deals with nuclear energy and radio-activity, lays down rules and safeguards against radiation. The Order of 20th March 1975 sets out the homologation rules for radio-active apparatus. The metal detector in question may not comply with those rules.

There is a third aspect. The local Naval Authorities have been known to complain because the use of metal detectors has interfered with electronic communications.

All in all, therefore, it is preferable not to use metal detectors in Spain .

December 1989


metal detecting is legal with a “permit” in Sweden, everywhere except Gotland and Oland which are the only two states it is forbidden completely in. Permits can be acquired from Lansstrelsen ( for relevant county you plan to search in, and only for a reasonable “planned” search area. Planned search area should be far from any known historical sites, see maps for the R symbol. e.g. see the R and Blue areas when zoomed in on a area like Stockholm. Any items pre 1850 need to be declared to lansstyrelsen by email or post. Including exact GPS position of object. If you find groups of objects pre 1850, or any gold / silver pre 1850, you need to announce it. They might not get back to you, but if its deeper significant, they have the right to have it and reward you. Templates are available on lansstyrelsen site for common locations like beaches and parks. e.g: These application forms with their pre-canned maps can be approved faster than a custom specified search area. If you are going to apply for the pre-canned areas, no more than 5 areas per application. Application is free. Its quite slow to get permits, so any “tourist” would need to apply well in advance before using a detector, and also have a planned search area which needs to be “reasonable” in size since there are many protected sites Sweden .


No legislation specifically refers to metal detecting by private individuals, though legislation exists to ban unauthorised search or excavation of antiquities.


The 1973 Antiquities Act carries very extensive lists of movable and immovable objects protected including places of ancient settlement or places where there are vestiges of ancient civilisations (Article 1). All objects are the property of the State (Article 3 ) and reporting is obligatory (Article 4) but a reward system exists (Article 47).

There is a specific provision against treasure hunting, illicit excavation and dealing in antiquities (Article 51 - 52). Unauthorised treasure hunting carries a penalty of 2 - 5 years imprisonment and fines of =A35,000 to =A310,000 (Article 47).