Importing Old Coins

I won an auction for a coin from an auction house in Germany - it was a Russian coin. I'm a little confused about restrictions about what can be imported into the US. Is there a guide somewhere about what can/cannot be imported? Or in what case extra documentation is needed?


  • Insider2Insider2 Posts: 6,594 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Go on the internet. Look up auction houses for ancient coins. Call them as they should know. There is another coin forum that I guess I should not reveal with a VERY ACTIVE membership that could answer you question quickly. Sorry.

  • 3Mark3Mark Posts: 580 ✭✭

    If you won it in a German auction, all you need to do is pay for it. Over the years I have won lots in Kunker, WAG, Gruen and others. I also buy from German dealers and only had to pay :) You need nothing to get the coin (s).

    I'm traveling on memory and running out of fuel.
  • I won it via Hirsch, paid and now FedEx is calling to understand more about what's in the package. I was worried about import restrictions. I found a post on another site that leads me to believe these things could be confiscated, none of them describe my item (an old Rouble):

    what you have to watch out for is the cultural heritage regulations, and it isn't a USPS problem it is a customs problem.

    These types of coins can be confiscated and repatriated to their country of origin if you don't have export licenses that prove they were removed from their home countries ten years before they were put on the list (basically 2001)

    a. Pre-monetary media of exchange including “arrow money,” bells, and bracelets. Approximate date: 13th century B.C. through 6th century B.C.

    b. Thracian and Hellenistic coins struck in gold, silver, and bronze by city-states and kingdoms that operated in the territory of the modern Bulgarian state. This designation includes official coinages of Greek-using city-states and kingdoms, Sycthian and Celtic coinage, and local imitations of official issues. Also included are Greek coins from nearby regions that are found in Bulgaria. Approximate date: 6th century BC through the 1st century B.C.

    c. Roman provincial coins – Locally produced coins usually struck in bronze or copper at mints in the territory of the modern state of Bulgaria. May also be silver, silver plate, or gold. Approximate date: 1st century BC through the 4th century A.D.

    d. Coinage of the First and Second Bulgarian Empires and Byzantine Empire – Struck in gold, silver, and bronze by Bulgarian and Byzantine emperors at mints within the modern state of Bulgaria. Approximate date: 4th century A.D. through A.D. 1396.

    e. Ottoman coins – Struck at mints within the modern state of Bulgaria. Approximate date: A.D. 1396 through A.D. 1750.

    F. Coins of Italian Types—A type catalogue of listed currency and coins can be found in N.K. Rutter et al. (eds.), Historia Numorum: Italy (London, 2001). Others appear in G.F. Hill Coins of Ancient Sicily (Westminster, 1903).

    1. Lumps of bronze (Aes Rude)— Irregular lumps of bronze used as an early medium of exchange in Italy from the 9th century B.C.

    2. Bronze bars (Ramo Secco and Aes Signatum)—Cast bronze bars (whole or cut) used as a media of exchange in central Italy and Etruria from the 5th century B.C.

    3. Cast coins (Aes Grave)—Cast bronze coins of Rome, Etruscan, and Italian cities from the 4th century B.C.

    4. Struck coins—Struck coins of the Roman Republic and Etruscan cities produced in gold, silver, and bronze from the 3rd century B.C. to c. 211 B.C., including the ‘‘Romano-Campanian’’ coinage.

    5. Struck colonial coinage—Struck bronze coins of Roman republican and early imperial colonies and municipia in Italy, Sicily, and Sardinia from the 3rd century B.C. to c. A.D. 37.

    6. Coins of the Greek cities—Coins of the Greek cities in the southern Italian peninsula and in Sicily (Magna Graecia), cast or struck in gold, silver, and bronze, from the late 6th century B.C. to c. 200 B.C.

    Any ancient coin from cyprus

    There are also restrictions on some ancient Chinese coins but I have been unable to locate the date range.

    These coins may be seized if imported into the US, and may also be seized by any signatory of the 1970 unesco convention on the “means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property upon importation into those countries.

    Since most of these coins have been traded for many years, most of them don't have export licenses or other documentation to prove they have been out of the home countries before the cut off date.

  • AbueloAbuelo Posts: 295 ✭✭✭

    Any respectable auction house will fill out the paperwork required for export. You should contact them.

  • StorkStork Posts: 4,481 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I was recently contacted by FEDEX about an incoming auction win. It wasn't so much about what was getting exported (not anything like on your list, much more modern/mid 20th century), but because it exceeded a certain value I had to fill out information as the importer.

    Fedex was very clear about the paperwork/what and how to fill it out/and charged a truly nominal fee to handle it all.

    Perhaps Fedex can clarify exactly what is needed, and then provide that to the auction house if it is on the export side vs. the import.

    If they are asking for a 'CBP 5106' then it's an easy and relatively cheap fix. IIRC it was around $25 for the fee going to customs and $8 to handle the paperwork. Fedex fronted the fee and sent me an invoice I paid on the phone.

  • SapyxSapyx Posts: 1,111 ✭✭✭

    These import restrictions are, as I understand it, a result of bilateral agreements between the US Department of State and the specific countries the coins on the list came from. Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) which include coins exist between America and Cyprus, Bulgaria, Italy and China. There is no MoU with Russia, so old Russian coins of any type can be freely traded.

    If you do buy a coin from an overseas auction house that does happen to be on the proscribed list, the auction house won't necessarily treat it any different. It is not the responsibility of an auction house in Germany to know what the US import regulations are; complying with German export regulations are their only concern.

    The only way to legally import coins on the Proscribed list is to get paperwork from the country concerned, allowing the import. Generally, these countries do not like ancient coin collectors and wish we would all just go away and stop collecting coins, so generally they are not very co-operative with collectors.

    Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.
    Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, "Meditations"
  • StorkStork Posts: 4,481 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Going by the above, perhaps the auction house was a bit vague regarding contents (my last auction win was a sub $100 Japanese coin from Switzerland) which was labeled 'numismatic token' on the customs form). It could be nothing more than a need for the copy of your invoice showing it's a Russian coin and thus not subject to the restrictions.

  • jdmernjdmern Posts: 60 ✭✭

    There should be no issues with this piece coming from Germany... The only times I have ever had issues with importing pieces were when auction houses incorrectly described what they were shipping, sometimes due to a language barrier... A call directly to Fedex should resolve it

    J.D. Meunier

    Boardwalk Numismatics

  • BoosibriBoosibri Posts: 7,274 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Happened to me many times. Just call Fedex and it will get sorted. Their customs agent will help you get it through the process.

  • StorkStork Posts: 4,481 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Boosibri said:
    Happened to me many times. Just call Fedex and it will get sorted. Their customs agent will help you get it through the process.

    I was going to agree with this, only it's only happened once. Fedex was EXTREMELY helpful (on a weekend no less) as my coins were sitting in Alaska.

  • I called fedex and it was sorted out very quickly. Thanks for the inputs guys.

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