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Application Procedure

1. Address your signed application cover letter to the Assistant Legal Adviser for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

2. Ensure that (i) your application contains all items listed in the Application Checklist below, and that (ii) the content and form of each item conform to the instructions in the Application Procedure and Checklist.

Please read the Application Procedure and Checklist carefully. Processing of applications that are (i) incomplete or (ii) not prepared in accordance with the instructions on this page may be delayed. With respect to submitted applications that are incomplete, applicants are responsible for providing timely updates to the Office with the requisite information and/or documentation.

Those wishing to apply for determinations to be made and published during the holiday season are advised that processing, review, and publication times may be extended depending upon staffing levels. Applications should be prepared and submitted with this in mind.

3. Submit your application by e-mail, mail, or courier. The Office encourages submissions by e-mail.

Submission Options 
By E-mail (strongly preferred)  By Mail  By Courier 

E-mail your application to section2459@state.gov. 

Please note: 

a) Submit all application attachments in Portable Document Format (PDF). 

b) Divide your attachments into separate files (e.g., cover letter, schedule of objects, cultural significance statement). 

c) Utilize a consistent convention when naming your attachment files (e.g., Cover Letter.pdf, Schedule of Objects.pdf, Cultural Significance Statement.pdf). 

d) If your application totals more than 10MB in size, send multiple e-mails, with each being less than 10MB in size. 

e) Do not e-mail your application to an Office staff member even if you have worked with that member before on a prior application. All e-mailed applications must be sent to section2459@state.gov. 

Mail your application to the following address:  

Assistant Legal Adviser for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (L/PD) 

Suite 5H03
2200 C Street, NW (SA-5)
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC
20522-0505  

Please note: 

a) The Office encourages that mailed applications be sent expedited to facilitate timely receipt. 

b) The Office does not accept applications contained on discs, USB flash drives, or any other portable electronic storage device. 

Courier your application to the following address:  

L/PD
Suite 5H03
2200 C Street, NW (SA-5)
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC
20037 

Please note: The Office requests that applications be submitted a minimum of eight (8) weeks prior to the date of importation. If you are requesting an early Federal Register publication date (see Application Checklist Item 1 below), the Office requests that your application be submitted a minimum of eight (8) weeks prior to that date.

4. Upon receipt, the Office will e-mail the contact person listed in your application. If you submitted your application by e-mail and have not received a confirmation e-mail within two business days of submission, please e-mail section2459@state.gov.

5. To inquire about the status of your application following submission, you may e-mail section2459@state.gov or call 202-632-6471.


Application Checklist

Please submit the following items in your application:

Please include items 1 through 4 below in your cover letter.

1. A list of expected dates of the cultural [exhibition, assembly, activity, or festival] at each anticipated U.S. venue, as well as the date the objects are expected to be imported into the United States. Be certain to notify the Department of any changes in importation date.

Please note: If a foreign owner or custodian requires that § 2459 determinations be published before it will export the objects, please provide the requested date by which Federal Register publication would need to occur.

Please also indicate how each U.S. venue would prefer to be publicly identified in a Federal Register notice, should one be issued.

2. A statement that “the cultural [exhibition, assembly, activity, or festival] will be administered, operated, and sponsored without profit to all borrowing or otherwise participating U.S. [cultural, educational, or religious] institutions.”

Please note: Even though catalogue and print sales and admission and similar fees—all of which merely cover costs—are permissible, a description of any charges or preferences in admission should be provided.

3. A statement concerning agreements, as follows:

“The applicant certifies that the importation of each object included in this application’s schedule of objects will be pursuant to an agreement that a) is entered into between the foreign owner or custodian thereof and one or more cultural, educational, or religious institutions with the capacity to appropriately curate each such object within the United States, and b) provides for the temporary storage, conservation, scientific research, exhibition or display thereof within the United States, according to and consistent with the terms of 22 U.S.C. § 2459.”

Please note: The Department interprets the term “foreign” in 22 U.S.C. § 2459(a) to apply to both the “owner” and “custodian,” and also to refer to both natural and juridical persons. Further, the Department understands the terms “foreign owner” and “foreign custodian” to mean persons who are not U.S. nationals.

Copies of agreements are no longer required as a general matter. However, the Department may request agreements or other supplementary information and materials as needed to support the review of an application.

4. A statement concerning the provenance of the objects to be imported, as follows:

“The applicant certifies that it has undertaken professional inquiry—including independent, multi-source research—into the provenance of the objects proposed for determinations of cultural significance and national interest. The applicant certifies further that it does not know or have reason to know of any circumstances with respect to any of the objects that would indicate the potential for competing claims of ownership [except as described below. For the objects for which circumstances exist that would indicate the potential for competing claims of ownership, the following is a description of such circumstances and the likelihood any such claim would succeed].”

Please note: If you are aware of current or past litigation over ownership, please mention and describe.

5. A schedule of the objects to be imported that includes and meets the following specifications:

a) Number each object in ascending numerical order.
b) Number each page of the schedule.
c) State the title of the cultural exhibition, assembly, activity, or festival; and the venue(s) at which each object will be displayed.
d) For each object, include the location (city, country) from which it is being imported.

The schedule should not be contained within your cover letter; include it as a separate file in your application.

Please note: The information describing each object should be sufficient to ensure each object can be clearly identified. Images of the objects can aid in meeting this degree of specification and are strongly encouraged. Additionally, if any protected wildlife or plant parts or products, such as elephant or whale ivory, sea turtle shell, Brazilian rosewood, or migratory bird feathers, are included, provide a description of these items, including the species involved.

Upon request by a member of the public, the Office will provide a list of the objects covered under a Federal Register notice. The list generally provided is the schedule the Office received from the applicant.

6. A scholarly statement establishing the cultural significance of the objects to be imported. This statement should not be contained within your cover letter; include it as a separate file in your application.

7. Facts supporting an assertion that each participating U.S. “cultural, educational, or religious institution with the capacity to appropriately curate” the objects being imported is indeed such an entity within the meaning of 22 U.S.C. § 2459. In support of this assertion, it is recommended that an applicant: (a) include an IRC § 501(c)(3) determination letter or similar documentation for each such participating U.S. institution; and (b) demonstrate that each such participating U.S. institution has the ability to appropriately curate the objects presented in its application, such as by providing examples of past cultural [exhibitions, assemblies, activities, or festivals] for which each such participating U.S. institution curated objects similar to those being presented, or by describing the curatorial experience of the staff at each such U.S. institution who are involved in curating the objects being presented.

8. The contact person for the application, and his or her telephone number and e-mail address.


For your convenience, please visit the Sample Language page for sample introductory paragraphs you may wish to use in your application cover letter.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future