The Law on Protection of Cultural Heritage (2004) defines public services in this field and all available legal mechanisms to ensure the protection of cultural monuments. Cultural heritage may be publicly or privately owned and may be exported only in exceptional cases with permission from the Minister of Culture.
Private owners have an obligation to care and maintain cultural heritage and property, and to provide access to them for scientific / cultural research purposes and in some cases to provide access to the general public. Under certain conditions the owner has the right to receive compensation from the Ministry for some maintenance costs.
In 2007, the Law on Protection of Cultural Heritage was amended, in order to harmonise it with EU legislation and standards. Bigger changes were made in the procedure of restitution of cultural heritage goods, the measures for getting permission for archaeological excavations, some of the control measures etc.
There are several laws that regulate the environment and natural heritage: Law on Protection of Natural Heritage, Law on Protection against Environmental Noise, Law on Waters etc. The Law on Protection of Natural Heritage regulates the rights and obligations of the central and local governments, the City of Skopje, and the rights and obligations of the citizens in the protection of the environment, the natural heritage etc. Main responsibilities for executing this law lie within the Ministry of Environment and Social Planning.
One of the major issues in the past four years (2017-2021) on the protection of cultural and natural heritage is the city and region of Ohrid – protected by UNESCO as a cultural and natural heritage area since1979. However, the UNESCO recommendations for Ohrid and the region for the past decade were completely disregarded by the central and the local governments and the result is the possibility of losing the status of UNESCO protected city/region.