Australia has returned a number of cultural objects that were unlawfully exported from a foreign country and imported into Australia. The returns were executed under the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986.

Under the Act, provision is made for illicitly imported foreign cultural property to be returned to a country it was illegally exported from if that country's government makes a request and it can be demonstrated the export was illegal. The object proposed for return must form part of the cultural heritage of the other country and be protected by its laws.

The objects returned to date include:


  • An ammonite fossil to Algeria (August 2018)
  • 4 decorated ancestral skulls (2 Dayak, 2 Asmat) to Indonesia (May 2018)
  • 38 ammunition components from WW1 to Turkey (April 2017)
  • 14 antiquities to Egypt (April 2015)
  • A stone statue of the Goddess Guanyin to China (March 2015)
  • A bronze Shiva Nataraja (from Tamil Nadu) and 1 antique stone idol of Ardhanariswara to India (September 2014)
  • 2 miniature pots to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (September 2011)
  • Textile remnants, woven and pottery dolls, and gold foil artefacts to Peru (September 2011)
  • 122 artefacts to Egypt (September 2011)
  • Artefacts with human remains to Cambodia (March 2011)
  • 154 stoneware artefacts to the Philippines (May 2010)
  • Ptolemy's Cosmographica map sheet to Spain (February 2008)
  • 130 kg of fossils to Argentina (August 2007)
  • 16 incised Dayak skulls to Malaysia (May 2007)
  • A decorated Asmat skull to Indonesia (December 2006)
  • 7 antiquities to Egypt (July 2005)
  • 10,000 fossils to China (May 2004 and June 2005)
  • 71,939 pieces of Chinese porcelain from the Tek Sing shipwreck to Indonesia (August 2001)
  • 33 antiquities to Greece (July 2000)