List of countries where metal detecting is allowed/banned

In South Iceland advertising of metal detectors is equated with striptease ad. Is it normal? Here’s the list of countries where metal detecting is permitted or prohibited.

Australia. Any metal detecting is allowed. Prospecting for gold nuggets, as well as beach search, are favourites among locals. There are not so many archaeological finds in Australia – much less that in Europe and the U.S.

Austria. The use of metal detectors in archaeological contexts requires a permission issued by the Austrian Federal Monument Authority.

Belarus. Until 2013, metal detecting was prohibited only at archeological sites under state protection, WWII battlefield sites and on private land (without the owner’s permission). Since 2013, some laws and provisions restricting searching for historic artifacts have come into force. In actual fact, the use of metal detectors in Belarus can be considered forbidden.

Belgium. Private individuals aren’t allowed to look for archaeological artifacts. Beach search is permitted.

Bulgaria. The owner of a metal detector must register his device with the Ministry of Culture (otherwise he shall be punishable by a fine, or even jail time). Searching for archaeological objects requires permission. There are still illegal treasure hunters in Bulgaria, however – e.g., our commenter Кустарников ))

Note: Here’s a comment from Bulgarian treasure hunter Кустарников. “Actually, we have another situation – metal detectors are sold legally, and registration is required only if the buyer is an archeological museum and the device will be used during legal archeological excavations. Searching for archaeological finds in our country is permitted only for local historical and archaeological museums. It’s strictly forbidden for usual people to detect archaeological sites – not only already known places, but also still unknown ones. The problem is that there are lots of unknown sites in Belarus but the law doesn’t specify where in particular it is allowed to search – in other words, there isn’t such a list of places where it’s permitted to hunt freely. Thus, if you buy a metal detector, you can only perform air tests with it at home, and that’s all”.

Cambodia. Metal detecting is allowed only on beaches.

Canada. On the one side, it’s a country with a very poor history – it’s unreal to find a 200- or 300-year- old item. On the other hand, searching for historic artifacts is officially forbidden. It is the landowner who gives you permission to hunt with a metal detector. Or, you may metal detect in parks (there is also gold there) as well as on beaches.

Canary islands (Tenerife). Metal detecting is allowed without any restrictions.

Caribbean islands. Metal detecting is allowed without any restrictions.

China. Any metal detecting is forbidden.

Comoros islands. Any metal detecting is forbidden.

Croatia. Metal detecting is forbidden.

Cuba. Any metal detecting is forbidden. The very possession of metal detectors is equated with the possession of weapons.

Cyprus. Any metal detecting is forbidden, including beach search. If someone tries to take a metal detector through customs, it will be confiscated.

Czech Republic. To search for archaeological artifacts you will need permission. Metal detecting on beaches is allowed.

Denmark. Metal detecting is allowed. Very large and valuable items found must be given to the state.

Note: Here’s a comment from Italian detectorist Arne Hertz. In Denmark you can detect with landowners permission and must keep a 2 meter distance from protected sites. Most archeological finds, pre 1537 coins, any gold and larger silvercoins are gowerment property. And that is the short version. Also you cant treat Germany as one country. The different länder or states have different rules.

Dominican Republic. Metal detecting is allowed and encouraged without any sort of restrictions.

Egypt. Beach metal detecting is allowed, although permission will be required in some hotels with private beaches. According to commenter maxipim, there can be problems with getting the detector through customs. He shared his experience: while preparing for the trip to Egypt he packed the machine and coil separately – when dealing with the customs he said it was a crutch.

Ethiopia. Metal detectors are totally banned.

France. Searching for archaeological finds requires permission. Beach metal detecting is allowed.

Germany. Metal detecting is allowed but requires a license.

Ghana. Locals are permitted to metal detect without any restrictions. Tourists need to acquire a permit (license?).

Greece. The owner of a metal detector must obtain a license which is issued by the Ministry of Culture. Metal detecting on beaches requires the mayor’s permission. It’s prohibited to search for archeological objects – jail term of 10 to 20 years.

Hungary. The use of metal detectors requires special permission.

Iceland (southern part). It is totally forbidden to use metal detectors. By way of example, advertising of devices is equated with striptease ad. Looks a lot alike… Given that the country has a population of nearly 320,000, it’s even normal ))

India. Metal detecting is allowed. But any foreign treasure hunter evokes great interest from locals. Under favorable circumstances, they may even grab the machine from a foreigner or call the police.

Indonesia. Metal detecting is allowed.

Ireland. Historic artifacts can be looked for only after getting permission and approval from landowners. Beach metal detecting is allowed (so what are the beaches in Ireland?).

Israel. It’s forbidden to search for historic artifacts. Illegal treasure hunters are punished by jail time. But anyway, enthusiasts are still hunting there – the land of Israel is stuffed full of finds. Any construction, downpour, or great storm yields discoveries (without participation of detectorists). Metal detecting on beaches is allowed. Agent Mulder regularly recovers gold off beach.

Italy. All things of archeological interest, in and out of the ground, are the property of the state. Metal detecting by private individuals is allowed in some regions. A finder of valuable objects receives a reward. There are regions where the use of metal detectors is prohibited – e.g., Valle d’Aosta, Calabria, Lazio, Tuscany, Sicily.

And one more thing… According to local detectorists, beach search in Italy is controlled by mafia and the police. There is division into areas which are under control of different clans. Mafia treasure hunters ))

Note: Here’s a comment from Italian detectorist sergio. “Metal detecting is allowed on public beaches. But there is nothing to dig there. Private beaches are watched over by guards – it’s possible to make a deal with some of them, but some will be against, and it’s better not to argue with them. The police, carabinieri and mafia – this is a mere fable. The competition among detectorists is rather high… You can also hunt in the regions where it’s prohibited to, but not in the areas of archaeological importance – on private land and in the mountains. But there is nothing to search for in the mountains, too, as everywhere there are shot and shells the hunters left behind”.

Jordan. Metal detecting by private individuals is forbidden. Note that detectors are not allowed through Jordan customs as well.

Kenya. Metal detecting is allowed without any restrictions.

Latvia. Metal detecting is allowed on beaches and privately owned land (if you have permission of the owner). In all other cases, it’s prohibited to search with a metal detector. Special attention is paid to war relic hunters. Latvian police is said to keep an unofficial record of such hobbyists. Do you believe in it? ))

Libya. Any metal detecting is forbidden.

Lithuania. Since 2010, there have been changes in the country – some restrictions to using metal detectors have come into force. At present historic artifacts can be looked for after getting permission from the Department of Cultural Heritage. Metal detecting on beaches is allowed.

Maldives. Metal detecting is allowed without any restrictions.

Malta. Any metal detecting by individuals is forbidden. However, there are options when local authorities give permission for reasonable pay-off.

Mexico. Metal detecting is permitted. BUT (and it’s extremely important) detecting in Mexico is the prerogative of mafia clans. Apart from archeological finds, mafia has put their hands on beach search.

Moldova. Since 2011, metal detecting in the country is forbidden. The possession of metal detectors is also prohibited.

Mongolia. Metal detectors are totally banned.

Morocco (Agadir). Metal detecting is officially prohibited. But there are quite many treasure hunters in the country.

Namibia. Searching for archaeological finds is forbidden. Beach metal detecting is allowed.

Northern Ireland. Metal detecting is allowed on privately owned land (after getting permission from the owner). I wonder where things stand with beach hunting in Northern Ireland ))

Norway. Metal detecting is allowed only after getting permission.

Philippines. It’s forbidden to search for archaeological objects. Beach metal detecting is allowed.

Portugal. Metal detecting is officially prohibited. But there are treasure hunting clubs in Lagoa and Portimao districts that obtain permission to use metal detectors. Plus, it’s very rare that beach search is allowed by special permission from authorities (for locals only).

Romania. Metal detecting requires permission. There is the cultural property police in Romania (Politia de Patrimoniu).

Russia. It’s almost forbidden to search for historic artifacts. Beach metal detecting is allowed.

Saudi Arabia. All things, in and out of the ground, are the property of the Emir. If someone disagrees, he will be executed. Metal detectors are totally banned.

Slovakia. The use of metal detectors requires permission.

South Africa. Metal detecting is permitted only on beaches.

Spain. The use of detection devices for the purpose of searching for archeological finds is not allowed unless you get permission. However, there is a fair amount of illegal treasure hunters in Spain. Several years ago there used to be even private treasure hunts for foreign tourists.

Sri Lanka. Metal detecting is forbidden. Police react quickly to any reports on treasure hunters.

Sweden. Metal detecting on privately owned land is allowed. Beach search is permitted, too.

Switzerland. Metal detecting is officially not forbidden. But each canton, or even a district, has its own rules. Thus, it may be forbidden to metal detect only on archeological sites. However, there are examples when it’s allowed to search even there. On the other hand, in some areas, collecting scrap metal does require permission from the district authorities. Moreover, you will need double permission at that: a metal detecting license plus the landowner’s permit.

Thailand. Metal detecting is allowed without any restrictions.

Tunisia. Metal detecting is forbidden. Nevertheless, there are treasure hunters on some of the beaches.

Turkey. To search with a metal detector, including beach hunting, you will need to get a permit. However, you shouldn’t rely on verbal permission from hotel administration – the police will come and will take your metal detector away (they can also put you to prison at that).

UAE. Beach search is allowed in some areas (on a very limited basis).

Uganda. Metal detecting is allowed without any restrictions. Is this the country you are dreaming of? ))

UK (England). Archaeological finds can be looked for only after getting permission (it’s not a problem to receive it). Considering that most land is privately owned, you will require additional permission from the owner. Any valuable object found shall also be shared with the landowner. The museums have a priority right to acquire finds. Concealment of a discovery is fraught with punishment. In England the value of the find is determined in a rather interesting way. For example, a Roman lead plate isn’t viewed as a valuable find, although it costs $363,625.

Also, in England beach metal detecting is allowed, although there are places where you are required to obtain a permit or to pay fees. For instance, if you wish to metal detect on a public beach, you will need to ask local authorities for permission. Detecting on the River Thames beaches, within the boundaries of London, does require payment of a few dozen pounds fee.

As a matter of fact, England takes first place in Europe, followed by Poland and France, in terms of the number of hobbyists involved in metal detecting.

Ukraine. Metal detecting on official archeological sites is forbidden. The rest of sites – you can search where and with whom you like )) But well, it’s only for the time being. There will probably be some restrictions in the future.

USA. Metal detecting is allowed without any restrictions. To search on privately owned land you will need to obtain permission from the owner.

Vietnam. Metal detecting is allowed. Tourists prefer beach hunting. Anyone with a metal detector is a great spectacle for locals – children gather together in a crowd and are tagging along behind him. Local detectorists search for war artifacts a bit.

The list of countries is being updated. Do you have anything to add? Lots of treasure hunters will be grateful to you.

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70 Responses to List of countries where metal detecting is allowed/banned

  • France : archeological site is forbidden unless you got permission that almost never given. Private land is authorised with owner permission , beach tolerated and regulated by mayor bylaw. The french law state that it is forbidden to search for archeological, historical, art artefact ( what metal detector can determine 100% what you can find ?!). If you find something on the above mentioned categorie even in private ground you have to declare it and not dig it ( if you get the item out you risk persecution for destruction of archeological site almost every time).

    • Dumbfuck Frog Asswipes

    • Archeology and the body cant dig everywhere and hope to discover history. Its seems a pathetic naivety to hate detectorists. The greatest finds are made by non archeoligists. Are they so childish and infantile that they cant have a good relationship with detectorists and history can be discovered and shared by all. They need to grow up

  • Actually In france the situation is quite tense, most state archaologist are at war against detectorist and persecution is an habit.

    • The country is lazy and the women have raunchy stinky armpits but they have killer cheese.

  • Metaldetecting in Sweden: You must have a permission the authority and landowner, and even whit premission you still can`t look for Archaeological finds.

  • Metal detecting in Portugal: The afirmation It´s wrong… It´s not officially prohibited. The law is similar than Spain, that is, the use of detection devices for the purpose of searching for archeological finds is not allowed unless you get permission (that you can´t get unless you are working as an archeologist or work in this area). But if you detect far away from classified sites and you are not looking for archeologic finds the law dont forbid the use. In the Beach it is forbidden by law but you cna get a permission.

  • Ma andate affanculo! Ma quale mafia e inciuci con la polizia in Italia? Questo articolo è vergognoso!

    • hai completamente ragione. Sono Ungherese ma ho cercato con MD in Eraclea Mare e no era problema con nessuno. Mafia? Questi Americani sono divertenti :)

    • Invece da scrive la tuo versione per chiarire le cose te preferisce insultare ,,, povera Italia

  • Germany: metal detecting requires permision by the archeologists and is strictly forbidden on or nearby archeologic sites and in forests. It is allowed (with permisssion only) on plugged fields etc.
    As in France, the archeologists seem to be at war with metal detectorists. When I started metal detecting 20 years ago it was much easier than today.

  • Malaysia= metal detecting is allow

  • In algeria métal detector= 2 years prison

  • Wat about Japan ?

    • Japan is allowed. One time I was detecting a beach and was asked by a local Japanese what I was doing? I explained I was looking for gold/silver and coins. The lady then asked me if I was poor. haha….

    • All the metel in Japan melted in 1945.

  • the belgian post is NOT up to date.
    if you really want to know , ask me.

  • Laws governing metal detecting in England are covered. But, do the same laws also apply in Scotland? Didn’t know if by “England” the writer meant all of Great Britain or just England itself?

  • There are a significant number of regulations regarding the prohibition of metal detecting on public lands, both Federal and state lands, in the United States. A good summary of those laws can be found at:

  • Regarding metal detecting in the Republic of Ireland, the following is an extract from guidelines from the National Museum of Ireland:

    “The unauthorised use of metal detectors to look for archaeological objects is against the law. Such usage is subject to severe penalties, including imprisonment and/or fines. The categories of objects that are most commonly located by metal detectorists in Ireland, such as coins, tokens, buttons, clothes fasteners, thimbles, keys, seals, weights, strap ends and belt mounts, all fulfil the definition of ‘archaeological objects’ which may only be searched for under license.

    It is advised therefore that persons do not engage in general searches for lost or buried objects as to do so may place them at risk of prosecution and endanger the archaeological heritage.”

    For more information see:

  • “In spain The use of detection devices for the purpose of searching for archeological finds is not allowed unless you get permission.”

    Well in Spain you can’t metal detect in archeological or mineral sites, however you can get a permission from the authorities to do so. In southern Spain, In the Sevilla province, you can only detect with a permission, an to get that permission you may have to wait years. I know people that have been waiting 2 years to get the permission. And I don’t know for sure but I think the permission only allows you to metal detect in the beach. In Spain you find an object that could be more than 200 years old, you have to inform the authorities. And If you find things like rings or phones or pretty much any object that is not money you have to give it to the police and after 2 years if the owner doesn’t appear, you can get the object you found and sell it or keep it or whatever you want to.

  • Poland: Search with metal detector requires a permit from WKZ, on beaches are allowed

  • How about in the philippines?

  • When I went to Jamaica, they said it was officially legal, but to watch out for the drug cartels who routinely take anything you find or just shoot you & take your machine. In other words, stay on the resort.

  • Marauding groups of uncontrolled metal detectetorists are rampaging through the the English countryside, ,farmers are engouraged by get rich quick individuals to hire there fields out on a daily basis for fees in excess off a thousand pounds per day, entrance fees are then charged to visiting metal detecting enthusiasts,who will walk off the field with there finds in there pockets ,some of these groups are sponsored by Metal detector shops and outlets .
    Some of the land is being used by Individuls small groups and clubs in a responsible way with finds being recorded ,the hobby in the UK is being scrutinised with the view of applying restrictions ,because of the iresponsible actions of others .

    • I gather you havent been on a rally or club dig,we record with PAS and have finds liason officers on site to record all finds.the artifacts are better dug than lost forever or destroyed by plough and soil conditions. just my opinion. atb hh gl

    • Paul is talking his usual propagandist, anti-detectorist nonsense.

      There are a few undistinguished, archaeologists across Europe, who because of their own failures to establish themselves among their heritage peers, dedicate their miserable lives by spreading lies and on behalf of others, more talented but equally nasty. The Portable Antiquities Scheme is the envy of the world with over one million artefacts recorded by Britain’s hobbyists.

      The elephant in the room and that which Paul fails to mention ( well, he would wouldn’t he?) is that the number of artefacts documented on the PAS database found by archaeologists can be counted on the palm of one hand.

  • What about metal detecting in canada?

    • You need visa to get there . . . :)

    • Legal anywhere. Permission must be obtained from landowners. Provincial parks and national parks seem to be off limits except for beaches. Some city or town park personnel might frown on it. Overall it’s canada and nobody seems to give you a second look.

      • In National and Provincial Parks, there are no prohibitions for using metal detectors except in registered archaeological sites. The wording of the regulations for the parks generally pertain to “digging” or damaging the area. The same is often for cities and towns with bylaws pertaining to the “digging” but no specificity to metal detecting. So you can metal detect but you need to carefully consider your method of recovery. I just dealt with this at a provincial park. Once I walked the staff through how I use a screw driver to recover coins in the grass, they had no issue.

  • What about Scotland?

    • Same rules apply to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There is a great relationship between archaeologists and detectorists on the whole. Detecting is legal with landowners permission except on sites of historical interest or nature reserves that have been given special protection. Beach detecting is allowed (check crown estates site for details) but watch for local laws, nature reserves and sites that have been leased to organisations that prohibit it.

      You can get a license to detect in London on the Thames. There are lots of organised digs for those without permissions. They require insurance (£15 approx a year) and cost about £20-25 per day. ‘Treasure’ must be declared (see NCMD link below) and export license for finds is required.

      Useful links on laws, getting insured etc… Friendly forum to ask questions…

  • The comment on the Bulgarian site is wrong. He is talking about Belarus??

  • Netherlands: allowed on a private grounds with a permission from a land owner. Not so hard to get as this is very popular hobby here. Allowed on the beaches without any additional permissions, there only may be some local restrictions regarding time of a day you can search.
    Strictly forbidden in some areas especially the areas of WW2 battles and operations. List of forbidden areas is easy to find in the internet. Forbidden in forests away from the footpaths. Forests are patroled by boswachters on a motorbikes, so you hear them from a distance.
    Despite all of above, every neighbourhood has its own rules called ADV, which regulate all aspects of a given area (geemente), including metal detecting.

  • And Scotland is free ?

  • In Denmark you can detect with landowners permission and must keep a 2 meter distance from protected sites. Most archeological finds, pre 1537 coins, any gold and larger silvercoins are gowerment property. And that is the short version

    Also you cant treat Germany as one country. The different länder or states have different rules.

  • In Estonia you can search beaches and there are law if you search items older than 1300AD you need license. Its funny law because overall its allowed to search everywhere if you have landowner permission. Government wanted to make all metaldetecting under licence only but they failed to make law. So there are peoples who have license and there are more people who dont have it. It costs like 500 euros to make that licence and dectorists asks really? Noone cares. Its government effort to monitoring all dectorists and etc. Spying after dectorists, thatswhy almost noone makes that license.

  • in algeria Any metal detecting is forbidden. The possession of metal detectors is equated with the possession of weapons. If someone tries to take a metal detector through customs, it will be confiscated. jail term of 10 to 20 years.

  • and Serbia ?

  • Netherlands is over all allowed. However there are some rules:

    Allowed list:
    – You are allowed to search on private property with permission of the owner. Be aware that more and more farmers no longer allow people to search on their land due to people that do not close their holes, make a mess of things or simply search without permission.
    – You are allowed on most of the government owned land, however in some area’s it is forbidden (ask local government to make sure before you start searching!)
    – Beaches are open for searching, just as long as you leave the dunes and the other sea barriers alone. Those are strictly off limits for searching.
    – Metal detectors and magnet fishing are 100% legal, no one will really bug you about it. Although you may get locals asking you what you found so far etc.

    Forbidden list:
    – Local parks
    – Forests and nature reserves
    – Any sea/water protection site such as dunes and dikes
    – Any known World War II site that could give potential danger
    – Any known and marked archaeological site (Roman locations are very much protected, do yourself a favor and do NOT look there)

    There are people looking for World War II relics, but mostly illegal since police love writing you up for it and there have been cases of imprisonment and confiscation of EVERYTHING you found related to the topic.

    There are more and more politicians that keep trying to limit or even ban searching with a metal detector. This because of fools who take live ammunition home, to even playing dumb to say they do not know what something is (even if it’s clear it is a grenade, some type of shell or bomb). So be aware the laws may change with time for the worse

  • I want to know whether metal detecting for Indian nationals is allowed in India without any restrictions or is allowed with permission(or special permission or license). If so, then from which authority, it is to be obtained? Kindly enlighten me as I want to take up this wonderful hobby in a serious way.

  • Hi Mr Jayaswal, I am a just like minded Indian. In India there is no restriction in law for metal detecting but the historical places & monuments protected by ASI are strictly prohibited. In any other places we can do metal detecting but if anything valuable find if that relic has any historical value or more than 100 years old we have to inform the local authorities or ASI as per Indian Treasurer trove act. You can mail ( me if you’re interested to have share your thoughts

  • I m from India ..Can I find gold at India beaches

  • Metal detecting on Croatian’s beaches is also forbidden ?

  • Here in Brazil doesnt exist a specific law abou metal detecting and its normal see people doing beach prospecting.
    Its prohibited by law:
    – Look for gold (or any valuable metal) nuggets only with a permission for the government (miner register). Only for brazilian citizens.
    – Protected areas (“locais tombados”). Prohibited in these areas. Normally old places with arqueological objects.
    – Prohibited to store or comercialize objects from Colony or Empire era (since 1500 to 1886) by law. Normally this law dificults trades but dont stops at all. People who found for example gold coins must to sell in black market.

  • metal ditectar allowed in nepal?

  • Norway has almost the same rules as Denmark, You will have to get landowner permission, parks and beaches are ok, old finds go automatic to the local museum ( you can get a finders reward sometimes). And 5 meters min distance on any registered or protected area (they are all over Norway).

  • Indonesia Bali metal detection lawful?

  • Indonesia can use metal detectors in Bali

  • What about my country Lebanon in midle east ?

  • What about Poland guys ? Oficially you can have a metal detector but it’ s forbridden by law to make any searches of any item (except meteorites:) ) Theoretically you can have a serious problems even for 60 years old worthless coin :).

    • I agree, but I saw an official letter from one of the authorities of Poland that a meteorite is also a movable historical treasure! Isn’t it stupid?

  • Denmark
    I am danish, not italian as you write. A follow up on Denmark. You must have permission to take items found, predating 1660, out of the country. Even the simplest artefacts such as flint flakes. Other rules apply for coins.
    So in effect a hit and run detecting trip to Denmark can not be recomended. You must allow time to turn in relevant finds to the local museum. Item not concidered Stateproperty can also be retained by local museum if concidered of cultural value. Permission to export also takes time so those finds must stay in Denmark for some time.
    And yes permission is a must, even on public beaches. Seperate rules apply for coins, but considering the abowe I can not recommend that you detect in Denmark without a knowleble local contact.

  • Your information on Canada is inaccurate. Each of the Provinces may, or may not have it’s own legislation. For example in Nova Scotia there are two acts covering artifacts. The Oak Island Act covers only Oak Island (I worked there in 2015). The rest of the Province is covered under the Special Places Protection Act. You cannot detect in a Provincial Park, but public beaches are not monitored. In addition there are certain areas covered by Federal Legislation, like Federal Historic Sites. I am not sure about other Provinces legislation

  • ”Canary islands (Tenerife). Metal detecting is allowed without any restrictions.”

    what about other island Gran Canaria, Lanzerote?

  • Is Gran Canaria same as Tenerife as going in 6 days with my detector?

  • Just got a MD for Xmas. Living near Sarlat in Dordogne France. I know about the rules with permission from local Prefect.. but how strict is it really..?

  • What is the law in Luxembourg?

  • Whoever wrote this should definitively comme and metal detect in Canada. Not sure why it says the history is poor and it’s unreal to find 200-300 years old relics. I sure did and plenty of them. I’m glad I didn’t read this before picking up the metal detector for the first time.

  • Any restrictions in Panama for metal detection

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