Submit or receive a restitution request

A restitution request is an application for the return to the original owner(s) or their heirs of cultural objects whose ownership was involuntarily lost by the original owner. 

Would you like to apply for restitution or have an investigation carried out for a cultural object from the period 1933-1945 held by the Dutch State or by another party in the Netherlands? Or have you received a request for objects to be returned? Here we describe the procedures.

First establish who possesses the cultural good

In order to submit a request for restitution, the first thing to establish is who has the cultural good in its possession. This is not always immediately clear: if for instance an object is held in a museum, this does not necessarily mean that the museum itself is the possessor. It may also be on loan from the Dutch government, from a private party or from a local authority. You can find this out by consulting the details of the cultural good in the databases of, or if necessary by contacting the museum or the institution where the object is currently located. After that you can follow one of the above mentioned procedures.

Voluntary restitution

Under Dutch law, the statute of limitations on restitution cases has expired. However, the present possessors may return works voluntarily. In most cases this happens on the recommendation of the ‘Advisory Committee on the Assessment of Restitution Applications for Items of Cultural Value and the Second World War’, also known as the Restitutions Committee.

The Dutch restitution policy is premised on a just and fair solution as set out in the Washington Principles. These principles advocate identification and publication of Nazi-confiscated art, archives that are open and accessible to researchers, implementing steps to achieve just and fair solutions and instituting alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.