Several laws on cultural heritage exist. The most important ones are the following:
- Former Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Jet Bussemaker, introduced an integral Heritage Act, protecting the national museum objects, museums, monuments and archaeology on land and underwater. The act was installed on July 1st, 2016 and replaced six laws and regulations in the field of cultural heritage, including the Monuments and Historic Buildings Act (1988) and the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (1984). The Heritage Act regulates matters for both movable and immovable heritage and is an integral part of the Environment Act. Eight issues are addressed: management of the national collection; control of the relationship with national museums; rules for disposing of objects and collections; protection of national monuments; rules for archaeological heritage; the return of cultural goods; finance; supervision and enforcement.
- In 2021, the Environment and Planning Act will come into effect. In similar vein as the Heritage Act, the Environment and Planning Act will replace and modernise multiple existing laws regarding water, air, soil, nature, infrastructure, buildings and cultural heritage in the living environment: “The new act will result in fewer regulations and will reduce the burden of conducting studies. At the same time, decisions on projects and activities can be made better and more quickly. Moreover, the act is more in line with European regulations and allows more room for private initiatives.” The Monuments and Historic Buildings Act is one of the laws that is partly absorbed in the Environment and Planning Act. Components of the Monuments and Historic Buildings Act that are not related to the living environment are included in the above mentioned Heritage Act. Thus, the Environment and Planning Act will regulate cultural heritage in the physical living environment while the Heritage Act contains the interpretation of heritage and the care of cultural property in government ownership. The following elements will be included in the Environment and Planning Act: permits for (archaeological) national monuments; the protection and preservation of the specific historic character of a village, town or city; the appointment of a monument committee; the need to take cultural heritage into account in environmental plans; and the designation of provincial and municipal monuments.
- The Public Records Act (1995) regulates the management and access of government archives, including digital information. Government organisations have legal obligations regarding their archive, for example that archives have to be publically accessible. The Public Records Act is mainly implemented by the Decree on Public Records (1995), which details a number of the provisions of the act. Various aspects of this decree are developed in even further detail in ministerial regulations.