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The system had not been reformed for more than two decades and trade associations had been lobbying for a better system for years. From January many cultural goods of relatively modest value will no longer need licences.

The auction house watchdog Conseil des Ventes said in a statement: “At the end of a long consultation, a decree of December 28, 2020, raised the value thresholds. This measure should [aid] the circulation of cultural goods…. and harmonise our legislation with that of competing countries.”

The French government also said it would introduce an electronic applications option.

In the UK, art, antiques and collectables deemed ‘cultural goods’, that are more than 50 years old and exceed a certain value, require an individual licence for export out of the country – whether on a permanent or temporary basis – from Arts Council England. The Arts Council is introducing an online system expected to go live this autumn.

New thresholds in France

Paintings more than 50 years old: €300,000 (increased from €150,000)

Watercolours, pastels, and gouache works over 50 years old: €50,000 (from €30,000)

Sculptures over 50 years old: €100,000 (from €50,000)

Incunabula, manuscripts and archaeological items: €3000 (from €1500)

For photographs more than 50 years old: €25,000 (from €15,000)

Some other categories such as tribal art have not changed.