World Heritage List Nominations

Only countries that have signed the World Heritage Convention, pledging to protect their natural and cultural heritage, can submit nomination proposals for properties on their territory to be considered for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Nomination process

Tentative List

The first step a country must take is to make an ‘inventory' of its important natural and cultural heritage sites located within its boundaries. This ‘inventory' is known as the Tentative List, and provides a forecast of the properties that a State Party may decide to submit for inscription in the next five to ten years and which may be updated at any time. It is an important step since the World Heritage Committee cannot consider a nomination for inscription on the World Heritage List unless the property has already been included on the State Party's Tentative List.

The Nomination File

By preparing a Tentative List and selecting sites from it, a State Party can plan when to present a nomination file. The World Heritage Centre offers advice and assistance to the State Party in preparing this file, which needs to be as exhaustive as possible, making sure the necessary documentation and maps are included. The nomination is submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review and to check it is complete. Once a nomination file is complete the World Heritage Centre sends it to the appropriate Advisory Bodies for evaluation.

The Advisory Bodies

A nominated property is independently evaluated by two Advisory Bodies mandated by the World Heritage Convention: the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN), which respectively provide the World Heritage Committee with evaluations of the cultural and natural sites nominated. The third Advisory Body is the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), an intergovernmental organization which provides the Committee with expert advice on conservation of cultural sites, as well as on training activities.

The World Heritage Committee

Once a site has been nominated and evaluated, it is up to the intergovernmental World Heritage Committee to make the final decision on its inscription. Once a year, the Committee meets to decide which sites will be inscribed on the World Heritage List. It can also defer its decision and request further information on sites from the States Parties.

The Criteria for Selection

To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria. These criteria are explained in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention which, besides the text of the Convention, is the main working tool on World Heritage. The criteria are regularly revised by the Committee to reflect the evolution of the World Heritage concept itself.

Until the end of 2004, World Heritage sites were selected on the basis of six cultural and four natural criteria. With the adoption of the revised Operational Guidelines, only one set of ten criteria exists.


Format for the nomination of properties for inscription on the World Heritage List

Acrobat documents
English  French

Word documents
English  French

Nominations may be submitted at any time during the year, but only those nominations that are "complete" (see paragraph 132) and received by the Secretariat on or before 1st February* will be considered for inscription on the World Heritage List by the World Heritage Committee during the following year.

Operational Guidelines annex 5

Format of a Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, and of a retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value

English  French

Deadline*: 1st February of the year preceding the one in which the approval of the Committee is requested.

Operational Guidelines annex 10

Minor modifications to the boundaries of world heritage properties

English  French

Deadline*: 1st February of the year in which the approval of the Committee is requested.

Operational Guidelines annex 11

Form for the submission of factual errors in the Advisory Bodies evaluations

Acrobat documents
English  French

Word Documents
English  French

Deadline: The original signed version of the completed Factual Errors submission form should be received in English or French by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, no later than 14 days before the opening of the session of the Committee.

Operational Guidelines annex 12


* If 1st February falls on a weekend, the nomination must be received by 17h00 GMT the preceding Friday

Preparing World Heritage Nominations
(Second Edition, 2011)

English French Arabic Portugese Spanish
Proposed for review
Cultural, Natural, Mixed
Decisions (4)
Show 28COM 13.1 Global Strategy for a representative, balanced and credible World heritage List
Show 06EXTCOM 5.4 New numbering system for the combined criteria (i) to (x)
Show 24COM VI Cairns Decisions - Work of The World Heritage Reform Groups
Show 20COM XVII.1-9 Revision of the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention