World Heritage sites

Home         Accreditation         Designation

Become a UNESCO World Heritage site

Why Apply?

From the ancient landscape and monuments of Stonehenge, the Jurassic Coast packed with 150 million years of life, to the lonely island of St Kilda evacuated after four thousand years of human occupation, UNESCO World Heritage Sites tell the unique story of the UK’s contribution to the world. These sites belong to everyone, and it is everyone’s duty to protect them for future generations.

World Heritage Sites represent the diversity of our planet and the people who have lived on it. They show the development of human history over thousands of years and celebrate the best of who we are – through art, architecture, religion, industry and much more. They are ours to share, to cherish and to respect. Their disappearance would be an irreparable loss to humanity. There are more than 1,000 sites on the World Heritage list globally, in three categories – cultural (such as a temple), natural (like a rainforest), and mixed (where both cultural and natural elements exist at the same location).


To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria. OUV is made up of three pillars, all of which are required to show OUV:


The site must meet the selection criteria


The site must meet required standards of authenticity and integrity


Proper protection and management arrangements must be in place

To meet the standards of Authenticity, in general, the site must be an original, authentic or true cultural expression of the values of the site, and cannot be represented by a copy or recreation.  To meet the standards on Integrity, the World Heritage Committee looks at the wholeness and intactness of the site.

World Heritage as a concept, with its emphasis on authenticity and integrity, is essentially site-based. Events and innovations without physical manifestation are therefore unlikely to be able to show the OUV required.  This is similarly the case with moveable objects which, in addition, by themselves would struggle to represent a high degree of wholeness necessary to evidence the integrity required for World Heritage.

As the UK has signed up to the 1972 World Heritage Convention and it has pledged to protect its cultural and natural heritage, the UK can consider nomination proposals to be considered for inclusion on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

The Process

The UK has a tentative list for potential nominations to the UNESCO World Heritage site list.

This ‘inventory’ provides a forecast of what the UK may decide to submit for inscription in the next five to ten years and which may be updated at any time. UNESCO cannot consider a nomination for inscription on the World Heritage List unless the property has already been included on the UK’s State Party Tentative List.

The tentative list is managed by the Department for Digital, Communications, Media and Sport (DCMS), with expert advice from Historic England, and devolved heritage bodies including Historic Environment Scotland, Cadw and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. The UK Tentative List is independently chaired by the UK National Commission for UNESCO.

The current UK Tentative List is available HERE

More information on the UNESCO nomination process for World Heritage Sites is available HERE

Key Information

Make sure you read the important information below before you apply.

You must apply through the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), but you may submit an Expression of Interest via the UK National Commission for UNESCO.

STATUS:   Closed for Applications

NEXT CALL DUE:   Awaited

FOR WHO:   UK Organisations



This accreditation is currently open for application. If you have any questions, get in touch with the UK National Commission for UNESCO via our contact form

Begin your application

Make sure you have checked you are eligible for this accreditation before applying. Get in touch with us if you have any questions.

Submit your Expression of Interest     

Accreditation type: World Heritage

Begin your application to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Submit your Expression of Interest