Why is Metal Detecting Illegal

Why is Metal Detecting Illegal?

Some people use metal detectors as a hobby. Some people use metal detectors as a profession to find valuable things like gold, silver, and artifacts. However, metal detection is illegal in certain regions, including owning a metal detector.

This article explains everything about why is metal detecting illegal and how you can be on the safe side while metal hunting.

Types of Illegality in Metal Detectors

There are two types of illegalities associated with metal detection:

Ownership of a metal detector

Usage of a metal detector

Ownership: There are places where it is illegal to own a metal detector, making it impossible to purchase one.

Usage: In some areas, it is legal to own a metal detector, but its usage is restricted or prohibited. It cannot be used everywhere without proper documentation and legal permission.

Why is Metal Detecting Illegal?

Metal detecting is an activity that everyone has the right to engage in lawfully. However, it cannot be pursued in violation of the law.

If a piece of land is privately owned, both the tenant’s and, in most cases, the landlord’s consent and permission are required.

However, if the person who owns the land says it’s okay to use a metal detector, then it’s allowed to do it there.

It is strongly advised to review the metal detecting rules and guides in the location where you intend to carry out your search. This step is crucial in preventing any potential legal repercussions.

Major reasons for the illegality of metal-detecting

Ownership Issues

In some regions with a monarchy like the UK and Saudi Arabia, there are specific rules. If someone finds something underground, it belongs to the kingdom, like the king or queen.

For instance, if a citizen finds gold or treasure underground, they cannot claim ownership of it; instead, it belongs to the kingdom or crown.

Digging without permission is strictly prohibited. In China, some governments don’t let people own things they find underground.

Security Threats

Certain areas pose security threats, especially in war zones where landmines may be buried. Digging in certain places can be dangerous because there might be landmines that could explode.

France, for example, strictly prohibits metal detection due to the high likelihood of landmines. To keep people safe, you can’t use metal detectors in places with war artifacts or historical importance. The only exception is if you have a license for searching for old weapons or doing archaeological work.

Preserved History

Preserving history is important to rulers, as they want to protect artifacts and prevent their sale on the black market. They want historical objects to be displayed in museums under proper security.

Government Properties

Digging up land that is under government ownership is illegal.

Laws and constitutions help citizens and keep things orderly. For instance, using a metal detector on someone’s property without permission is against the law. To avoid conflicts, one must obtain permission from the owner and a license issued by the government to engage in metal detection.

Find out – Is metal detecting profitable?

Countries where Metal Detecting is Legal/Illegal


 Metal detection is allowed in Australia. 

In Austria, you need permission from the Austrian Authority to use metal detectors for archaeology.

 Metal detection was banned in Belarus in 2013. Now, you need a government permission letter to detect metals. 

In Belgium, you can’t search someone’s property for artifacts or antiques, but beach searches are okay. 

In Bulgaria, a permit is required for metal detection, although treasure hunting is still illegal in certain areas. 

In the Maldives, metal detection is allowed with some restrictions.

Metal detectors are not allowed in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, France, China, Mongolia, Cuba, Malta, and Sweden.

Are Metal Detectors Legal?

Yes, metal detectors are legal in certain places.

In some places, you can own a metal detector but need a permit to use it.

Without a permit: There are also areas where metal detectors can be used without a permit.

Places where Metal Detecting is Allowed

Beaches: Freshwater and saltwater beaches are excellent places for metal detecting. The “towel line,” where beachgoers set up their towels and spend most of their time, is especially productive.

People often remove their rings and other jewelry and place them on their towels before entering the water. When they return, they may accidentally leave behind or fling away their jewelry while drying off.

Public Parks: Wherever people gather or play, there is a chance of finding lost coins and potentially gold and silver jewelry.

It is recommended to focus on playgrounds, sidewalks, paths, shade trees, and areas near basketball courts. People often leave things like backpacks and jackets in these places.

You can find treasures by metal detecting in different places like sports fields and old barns. Hill stations and antique collecting are also great options.

Some people even do it for business. Check out – Is metal detecting a good hobby? If yes then how it can be beneficial for us?


Why is metal detecting illegal – It is not completely illegal. Some countries permit it, some strictly forbid it, and others require a license for engaging in metal detecting. The article also mentions the countries where metal detection is allowed and prohibited.

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