5 min article

Artifacts and cave formations policy

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

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

What is the policy?

  • Items obtained from government or protected land, historical grave sites, or shipwrecks, can't be sold on eBay
  • Looted or stolen goods can't be sold on eBay

Listings for artifacts, fossils, and relics must:

  • Follow all government regulations
  • Be authentic and listed in the appropriate category

Listings for replicas must:

  • State the item is a replica in the title and description
  • Be listed in the Reproduction or Fantasy category, as appropriate

Listings for antiquities must include the provenance or ownership history of the item and, where possible, a photo or scanned image of an official document including both the item's country of origin, and the legal details of the sale. The item must also be approved for import or export

For more information on the categories of cultural goods most vulnerable to illicit activity, please see the International Council of Museums' Red List - opens in new window or tab

  • Listings for cave formations must follow all government regulations
  • Speleothems, stalactites, and stalagmites obtained from caves on government land can't be sold on eBay
  • Listings for government survey markers must include a photo or scanned image of the document proving that the government has transferred ownership to the eBay seller

The following Native American items can't be sold on eBay:

  • Funeral objects placed with the dead
  • Grave markers
  • Human remains
  • Sacred items used by Native American religious leaders in ceremonial practices, such as ceremonial masks and pray sticks 

Listing for Native American arts, crafts, and jewelry must follow all government regulations.

  • Under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act - opens in new window or tab, any item described as Alaska Native, American Indian, or Native American must be made by an enrolled member of a state or federally recognized tribe or by someone certified as an Indian artisan by a recognized Indian tribe

Non-Native American items in the style of Native American art or crafts must be listed in the Non-Native American category.

Additional information

As the sale of certain artifacts, grave-related items, Native American arts and crafts, and other related items is legally protected, there may be additional requirements in order to sell them on eBay.

For more information on the regulations regarding the sale of  these items, please see the links below:

This eBay policy also reflects regulations that have been set by various government agencies in the U.S, including the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs - opens in new window or tab (BIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation - opens in new window or tab (FBI), the U.S. Department of Agriculture - opens in new window or tab (USDA), and the U.S. Department of the Interior - opens in new window or tab (DOI).

For more information on the illicit traffic of cultural heritage items, please visit the UNESCO Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws - opens in new window or tab.

As part of the fight against the traffic of stolen works of art, Interpol encourages not only law enforcement agencies, 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 - opens in new window or tab.

Activity that doesn't follow eBay policy could result in a range of actions including for example: administratively ending or canceling 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.

Was this article helpful for you?