Morocco/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation  

5.3.3 Cultural heritage

In the Protectorate Era

The first decree [60] pertaining to antiquities and precious items was issued in 1914; it assigned the Fine Arts Department to organise a method and conditions for registering archaeological sites, historical buildings and movable antiquities (i.e. engraved stones, paintings, inscriptions).


The decree stipulates that archaeological excavations may only be carried out with a permit, and that any person who finds movable antiquities must inform the proper authorities or face specific penalties.


In 1945 a decree [57] pertaining to the preservation of historical buildings, beautiful vistas, inscriptions and old artistic pieces, and the maintenance of old city architecture was issued, nullifying the 1914 decree. This decree determined a method for registering and maintaining historical buildings. All historical buildings, endowments, state-owned real estate, joint-owned real estate and private real estate of historical value was to be preserved, as were natural sites, vistas of artistic or historical value, and the areas surrounding historical buildings. Old cities and the architectural patterns of historical buildings would also be preserved. A ministerial decision to enforce the decree was issued by the Directorate of Science and Knowledge, published in the official gazette.



In the Post-Independence Era
The 1945 decree remained in force until the early 1980s, when it was nullified by new law [50], which stipulated that real estate with reversion rights, appropriated real estate and movable assets whose preservation benefits the arts, history or culture of Morocco were also to be registered. The law provided certain measures for registering real estate and movable antiquities, for protecting artistic items. It also set conditions for carrying out archaeological excavations.


The law contains special provisions related to infringements and penalties. It maintained the regulations in force for maintaining architectural patterns.


A decree pertaining to the implementation of the law was issued in 1981, containing guidelines for registering real estate and movables of historical value, including them on the antiquity list and its resulting obligations. 


In 2006, a law [16] amending and complementing the 1980 law [50] was issued, broadening the definition of movables. The law stipulates that any (registered) documents, records or manuscripts with potential archaeological, historical, scientific, artistic, aesthetic or traditional qualities which may have national or international value as items that do not expire and are not subject to prescription should be included. This law also lays out the registration process for private movable property (of a certain size), sets fines and creates regional committees to monitor registration.


Draft laws presented to the government's general secretariat for publishing include:

  • A law pertaining to the preservation of Morocco's cultural and natural heritage
  • A law pertaining to the creation of the National Commission for Museums
  • An executive decree pertaining to archives

Chapter published: 05-05-2016


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