The procedure

A restitution application is first of all submitted to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science via the Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency (Dutch National Art Collection) or the Restitutions Committee (other collections). On this page you will find the most important information about submitting a restitution application and the course of the procedure.

The Restitutions Committee becomes the focal point as soon as the procedure starts. Can’t quite figure it out? You can contact the secretariat with questions and/or comments about the procedure, progress with the case etc. The Restitutions Committee’s working language is Dutch.
It corresponds in English with applicants from outside the Netherlands.

Restitution application

When submitting a restitution application it has to be clear who the current owner of the artwork is. This is not always straightforward. If a painting is hanging in a museum, for example, that does not always mean the museum owns it. It may be on loan from the central government, a private individual or the local authority. The museum where the artwork is located is the best source of information about this issue. If in doubt contact the RCE.

Once it is clear who owns the artwork whose restitution is being requested, you will know whether it concerns the procedure for the Dutch National Art Collection or the procedure for other collections. A step-by-step plan has been drawn up for both procedures that explains how to submit a restitution application.

Assessment framework

Dutch restitution policy was evaluated in 2020. The evaluation was conducted at the request of the Minister of Education, Culture and Science. On the grounds of this evaluation, on 22 April 2021 the Decree Establishing the Advisory Committee on the Assessment of Restitution Applications for Items of Cultural Value and the Second World War was replaced with a new Decree Establishing the Restitutions Committee. It includes the complete framework used by the Committee to assess applications relating to both the Dutch National Art Collection and other collections. This assessment framework contains three criteria: original ownership, involuntary loss of possession and acquisition in good faith.

If the Dutch State is the holder of the item of cultural value (Dutch National Art Collection), only the first two criteria apply. If there is compliance with them, the Restitutions Committee advises the Minister to restitute unconditionally.

If a party other than the Dutch State is the holder (other collections), the third criterion – acquisition in good faith – is also considered.

  1. If the requirements of original ownership and involuntary loss of possession are met and this holder did not act in good faith (or does not want to plead good faith), there is unconditional restitution.
  2. If the holder did act in good faith, the Restitutions Committee decides on unconditional restitution or on a mediated solution.

There are transitional arrangements that apply to applications that were already under consideration by the Restitutions Committee before 22 April 2021.

1

Verify who is the current holder

2

State Collection? Contact the Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE)

3

Other Collections? Agree to submit a request to the Restitutions Committee

4

Submit a joint request for a binding opinion

Length of the procedure

 

The time taken to carry out the procedure varies from case to case. It can take more than two years between the moment that work starts on a restitution application and the moment at which a recommendation or binding opinion is issued. This depends on several factors.

The turnaround time can be longer if the historical investigation is time consuming, for example because of the scope of the restitution application. In addition, procedural reasons often contribute to a longer processing time, for instance if there are several restitution applications relating to one item of cultural value. Progress with current applications has been impeded by COVID-related restrictive measures that have resulted in archives in the Netherlands and other countries being closed or less accessible for extended periods. This has also lengthened the turnaround times of restitution applications.

ENGELS: 'Claimtentoonstelling' van schilderijen, tekeningen en tapijten in het Rijksmuseum, 1950

Restitutions Committee procedural regulations

As a result of the new Decree Establishing the Restitutions Committee, the Restitutions Committee has changed its procedure, for which it has issued new Regulations.

These Regulations include the procedure for restitution applications relating to the Dutch National Art Collection and for requests for binding opinions concerning other collections.

Publication of the recommendation or binding opinion and confidentiality of information

 

After the Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE) has sent the applicant the Minister’s decision about the restitution application and the recommendation adopted by the Committee or after the Restitutions Committee has sent the parties the binding opinion, the recommendation or binding opinion is published on the Committee’s website. It is also published in the Committee’s annual report, but leaving out personal data. The overview of the facts is not published. The applicant is asked by the Expertise Centre to permit investigation of information in non-public archives. The Committee takes great care with confidential data.

Questions about a restitution application?

View the frequently asked questions or contact us.