There are separate laws for both the historical monuments and the World Heritage site (Heritage Area), because the historical monuments are more about individual buildings, while the World Heritage Site is a larger whole of buildings.
Historical monuments are protected pursuant to the Monuments and Historic Buildings Act (Monumentswet 2002). The Monuments and Historic Buildings Act makes it possible for owners to request that their building be designated as a monument. Such request must be made to the Minister of Education and Public Development, who will subsequently determine if the building is to be designated as a monument. To reach this decision the Minister of Education and Public Development will be advised by the Monument Conservation Committee (Comissie Monumentenzorg) or the Archeological Service (Archeologische Dienst) if the request pertains to an archeological site. The Minister of Education and Public Development will make his decision known to the owner within ninety (90) days.
Monuments are registered in the Public Monument Register (Openbaar Monumenten Register).
It is forbidden to demolish a monument or to make changes to it. Furthermore, it is prohibited (without a license from the Minister of Education and Public Development) to:
- tear down a monument, disrupt or change the appearance of the structure in any way;
- restore, use or have a monument used in a manner that disfigures or endangers it;
- move a monument, taking it out of its historical context;
- conceal a monument, which is visible from the public road, in any way wholly or in part; and
- apply an image-disturbing billboard or other flashy object on or to a monument.
In addition to the Monuments and Historic Buildings Act, there are also laws that only apply to the Heritage Area.
These laws are namely:
- The Designation of the historic city center Act (Wet Aanwijzing historische binnenstad); and
- The Special Requirements Building Plans Historic City Center Act (Wet Bijzondere Eisen bouwplannen historische binnenstad).