Metal Detecting In Illinois?

You Should Know The Law

Metal detecting in Illinois follows the ARPA (Archeological Resources Preservation Act).

In addition to the above ARPA law, the State of Illinois also follows the strict ruling of the 1966 "National Historic Preservation Act", which states:

"The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) was enacted in 1966 to protect the Nation’s historical resources from increasing development and expansion pressures by establishing a comprehensive national historic preservation policy. It defines historic properties to encompass a broad interpretation of American history and acknowledges significance at all levels, not just nationally. Furthermore, historic properties are now understood and appreciated as part of—not isolated from—the landscape in which they belong. Implementation of this act is mainly through 36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 63, Determinations of Eligibility for Inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, and 36 CFR part 800, Protection of Historic Properties. The regulations that implement the NHPA and their accompanying guidance documents formulate a proactive national policy on historic preservation. It specifically directs federal government agencies to take historic preservation into account in planning their initiatives and actions. Thus, the federal government is now a full partner and a leader in historic preservation."


"The NHPA defines historic preservation as “the protection, rehabilitation, restoration and reconstruction of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, or culture.”

As confusing as the above laws may seem, if you are metal detecting in Illinois?

Do not dig anything that you believe is an artifact, or anything that is older than 100 years.

Especially if you are on any State Lands.

If you want to detect on private property, then be sure you get written permission from the landowner.

For metal detecting in Illinois town, village and city parks, you'll need to check with those local officials.


Notice as of December 2006 it is illegal to melt down US Minted Pennies and Nickels, and there is a $10,000 fine to help enforce the law. It is legal however to melt down silver dollars, half dollars, dimes, quarters for their content.