One of the complicated aspects of metal detecting reviews and guidelines is that they are generalized, and many beginner detectorists assume that metal detecting is fully allowed in their jurisdiction. However, this is not the case – different countries and even different provinces/states may apply different laws. Therefore, every aspiring treasure hunter should know their local laws, and also state/governmental laws on metal detecting.
These laws vary from total legal prohibition to total lack of legal regulations. Whatever is the situation, no detectorist can afford to ignore it. So, you should be aware of the laws in places you are to metal detect, and be aware that, when you travel, other laws apply. To be on the safe side, find your country in the list below, and double-check out the regulations.
Please keep in mind that the rules provided here are timely at the time of writing; however, they may change very soon. So please always double-check the laws in every jurisdiction on your own, before you start metal detecting there.
Treasure hunting on public lands is allowed in practice, although there seems to be no clear law about it.
All types of metal detecting, treasure hunting, and gold prospecting are allowed. Metal detecting is quite popular here. The activity is regulated by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety of Australia.
Archaeological metal detecting is allowed, but permission should be issued to the detectorist by the Austrian Federal Monument Authority.
In 2013, the country went through a series of law reforms in terms of metal detecting. Most detecting on archaeological sites/for historical relics is prohibited, while other types are not really regulated. It is safer to claim that overall, metal detecting is prohibited in Belarus.
Any historical relics or artifacts cannot be dug, so such type of detecting is prohibited. Hobby-model beach search for modern jewelry is allowed.
Metal detecting is allowed without restriction on the beaches. However, hunting down relics on historical sites is not an option. Also, deep diving with a metal detector is prohibited.
All private detectorists must have their machines registered with the Ministry of Culture and are expected to report major finds. There is no list of allowed places for search, however, and any attempt to search on the actual or suggested historical location can end up with problems. Therefore, theoretically detecting is possible, but in practice, you can only entertain yourself with air tests at home.
All types of metal detecting are de facto prohibited, despite the law theoretically allowing treasure hunting along the beaches.
Regardless of a comparatively short modern history, Canada prohibits archaeological searches by individuals. Landowners can give permission to search on their private property, but again, no historical artifacts are allowed to be kept/managed by the finder. Detecting in public parks is allowed. Activity is regulated by Parcs Canada.
All types of metal detecting are allowed and no specific regulations are provided.
No restrictions are placed upon metal detecting activities whatsoever.
There are no clear prohibitions of the activity, so it is assumed that metal detecting is allowed.
All types of metal detecting are strictly forbidden by the law and suggest legal punishment for violating the regulations.
There seem to be no prohibiting regulations in Colombia; instead, local authorities will be grateful for help in clearing the mines left by the FARC. But overall, digging on unknown locations is dangerous.
No metal detecting activity is allowed here, at all.
Beach searches are generally allowed, and tourist detectorists should stick to them, and avoid detecting in the twilight. Locals do as they please, though. There seem to be no regulations whatsoever by the government, but there may be problems with local residents.
Croatia has no laws specifically about metal detecting, but it has laws considering valuable historical finds. If any citizen or tourist spots a historically valuable item, regardless of whether it was found or detected, they must report the government.
Any types of metal detecting activity are strictly prohibited. Even owning a metal detector is a crime and equals owning illegal weapons. There are no ways to register the detector legally.
No detecting is allowed anywhere, beaches are no exception. Moreover, owning or carrying a metal detector with you when crossing the border is prohibited; the customs will confiscate it right away.
Hobby metal detecting is fully allowed only on the beaches, and in shallow water. To search for something more serious, like relics or deep underwater finds, the detectorists need permission. The activity is regulated by the Act on Heritage Care.
Metal detecting is allowed, but large/valuable items, and coins dated before 1537 have to be reported and given away to the government. Also, detecting is possible on private property with the owner’s permission. When detecting on public property, the detectorist has to keep a minimum 2 meters distance from any protected/prohibited locations, according to the Act on Protection of Cultural Assets 1986.
All types of treasure hunting are allowed without any specific restrictions or regulations.
Theoretically, metal detecting is allowed, but permissions should be obtained from most hotels when searching along the seashore. Also, the government is extremely strict about taking anything not purchased in a shop from the country when leaving. Also also, taking a metal detector across the border will be a complicated task. So, theoretically detecting is permitted, but practically, it is tricky.
Historical sites and battlefield locations can’t be searched on, according to the Heritage Conservation Act 2011. Owner’s permission and local authorities’ permission are necessary for search on private land. The problem is, many locations still contain potentially live munition, so digging around can be literally life-threatening.
All types of detecting are prohibited, even owning a detector is a violation of the law.
Detecting is allowed on public grounds, except of course archaeological sites. With owner’s permission, search on private land is also possible. Regulations are as follows according to the Antiquities Act (1963) by the Finnish Heritage Agency.
Search along the beaches is allowed, and detectors can be owned freely. However, any attempts for relic search should be made upon taking permission.
Detecting is allowed, but the detectorist has to have a license. Licenses are issued by the local authorities, and work only within one city/location.
Only local residents are allowed to do detecting without any restrictions whatsoever. Tourists should obtain special permission to be allowed to detect anywhere in the country.
Those owning, or wanting to purchase a metal detector, have to receive a license from the Ministry of Culture. To do a beach search, every individual detectorist needs to get permission from the mayor. Hunting down for relics on historical sites is strictly forbidden, and punished with impressive jail terms.
Special permission is needed for the usage of metal detectors.
Metal detectors are prohibited for use, and even ownership can be questioned.
Metal detecting is legally allowed, however, it is safe to do so only for locals. Any tourist with a metal detector evokes huge interest from locals, who not only intervene with the search, but can even take aggressive actions.
Metal detecting is allowed for any type of search, but on private property.
In Ireland, free allowance for metal detecting works only for the beaches and seashores (but what the point?). To search for relics, a permission from the government should be received, plus, in the majority of cases, landowners should also provide an allowance. Regulations are according to the National Monuments Acts 1930 to 2014.
Here, only beach detecting is allowed. Any attempts to search for historical relics can end up in jail, according to the Antiquities Law of the State of Israel of 1978.
In some regions, metal detecting is totally prohibited; at the time of writing, these regions include Valle d’Aosta, Calabria, Lazio, Tuscany, Sicily. In other regions, detecting is allowed, however, any historical objects, be these detected underground and digged out, or otherwise found, should be reported and given away, as they are property of the state by law. Moreover, please keep in mind that beach detecting can be an issue due to local residents.
There are no laws or regulations against metal detecting in Japan. However, there is a law stating that anything found above the ground should be handled to police.
Private individuals are not allowed to metal detect. Bringing a detector with you across the border is also not allowed.
No restrictions whatsoever are applied to metal detecting of any type.
There are no clear regulations, but there is no legal prohibition either.
Only search on private land (with permission!) and along the beaches is legally allowed. Other locations are prohibited, especially those potentially having war relics.
Any type of search with a metal detector is prohibited.
In 2010, the country went through some legal reforms in terms of metal detecting. Unrestricted detecting is allowed only along the beaches, while any historical sites are allowed for search only after getting permission from the Department of Cultural Heritage.
Any types of detecting are allowed, no restrictions are applied.
Private individuals are not allowed to do detecting.
With the exception of archaeological sites, metal detecting is allowed. However, it has to be kept in mind that most, detecting activities are controlled by local mafia clans.
After some reforms in 2011, metal detecting is legally prohibited by the government. Ownership of a detector is also prohibited.
Treasure hunting of any type is absolutely prohibited, no exceptions.
The regulations are still unclear, as new laws motivated by activity of the Faro Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society are on the way. However, in theory, metal detecting is not forbidden.
All types of treasure hunting are legally prohibited.
Only beach searches are allowed. Other types of detecting, let alone for historical relics, are strictly forbidden.
Metal detecting is impossible without license, and moreover, even with the license, it is allowed only in certain locations, so it is safe to say that trying to metal detect is pretty useless here.
Metal detecting is prohibited on all public lands by Heritage New Zealand. The law redesign is still comparatively recent, and it is not clear whether search on private land will be allowed with the owner’s permission.
Detecting is only allowed on private lands with the permission of the owner, but any gold and silver objects, and any coins dated before 1537, are claimed property of state according to the Treasure Act 1996, should be reported and given away. The finder can get compensation for the item’s value; the landowner should get 50% of the compensation.
Private individuals are allowed to pursue detecting only after they get legal permission from the government.
Beach search is allowed without restrictions. Search on historical sites is prohibited.
Officially, detecting is forbidden. There are rare exceptions when some locals are allowed to do detecting, but only after the corresponding permission. These exceptions are not made for tourists though.
After major legal redesign, no detecting is allowed in Poland, even on your own private property. Any kind of detecting is only possible under permission by archeology institutes, and the permission is really hard to get, plus, all relics should be reported to museums. So, detecting in Poland makes almost no sense.
Due to strict cultural property laws in Romania, all detecting activities are possible under permission.
The regulations are quite generic, and in fact few follow them. Officially, only beach detecting is allowed, while other forms of activity are not, but de facto, many detectorists violate the law without much consequence (but that works only for public lands; on private property, it is not possible).
Mere ownership of metal detectors is prohibited, let alone any detecting activity. Punishments are extremely severe.
Metal detecting is legal, no license is required for hobby detecting.
Detecting is possible after receiving permission.
Metal detecting is prohibited according to the Cultural Heritage Protection Act 2008.
Only shallow water beach detecting is permitted.
The general rule is that historical sites are forbidden for metal detecting. In other aspects, that depends on the region. In some regions, this activity is totally banned, in other regions, they will turn a blind eye to it, in some regions still, permission is required.
Any type of detecting activity is strictly forbidden.
All metal detecting is legally prohibited.
Legally, treasure hunting is not prohibited, but every district has its own set of rules applied. Some local authorities demand getting permission even for collecting scrap metal. On the other hand, in districts when this hobby is permitted, the detectorist will require not one, but two permissions – a license by local authority plus the landowner’s allowance.
No restrictions are applied to whatever metal detecting activities.
All detecting activities are prohibited. However, law violations often happen.
For any type of detecting, even beach search, the treasure hunter requires official written permission by local government (verbal permission by hotel administration won’t work).
In some areas, they allow beach detecting, but in practice, there are tons of restrictions.
No restrictions are applied to detecting activities.
Archaeological sites are prohibited for search, officially. Public places are allowed, permission is needed to search on private land.
Permission has to be obtained to search on potentially historical places. Most of the land is owned, so the landowner’s allowance is also necessary. However, all gold and silver items, plus all coins dated before 1537, are to be reported and given away to the government under the Treasure Act 1996. However, both finder and landowner are to get compensation that can go up to 100% of the value of the find.
Generally, metal detecting is allowed without restrictions (but for privately owned lands of course). However, there may be minor additional rules in particular states. The main laws are the Antiquities Act of 1906 and the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979.
Activity is allowed, and beach search is the most popular activity for tourists. However, tourist detectorists attract lots of attention from locals, although locals seem not to take any aggressive action against them.
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