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. For a list of the cultural goods most vulnerable to illicit trafficking, refer to the International Council of Museums' Red Lists Database - opens in new window or tab. See also the “Additional information” below for more resources in the fight against the trafficking of these goods.

Listings for artifacts, fossils, and relics must:

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

Listings for replicas must:

  • State that 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. 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 

Listings 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. The information on this page can help assist sellers trade lawfully on eBay. eBay cannot assess the authenticity of specific artifacts or the legality of their sale. Sellers are responsible for ensuring that their transactions are lawful.

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 trafficking of cultural heritage goods, please visit the UNESCO Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws - opens in new window or tab.

As part of the fight against the trafficking of stolen works of art, INTERPOL encourages not only law enforcement agencies but also art and antiques dealers, owners of works of art and the general public to play an active role in the exchange of information about stolen works of art:

You can find more information and resources on the Cultural Heritage Crime section of the INTERPOL website - opens in new window or tab.

Activity on eBay is required to follow this policy, the eBay User Agreement and all applicable laws, as well as respect the rights of third parties. If it doesn’t, eBay may take action consistent with applicable laws and the eBay User Agreement, and may even be legally required to do so. Such actions may include, as an example only: Removing the listing or other content, issuing a warning, restricting activity or account suspension.

Visit Seller Help - opens in new window or tab 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.

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