Q&A – Shipping Art Internationally.

By James Mitchell-Kempner
March 03, 2021 10:46am

Now that London is beginning to open back up and as it’s been a couple of months since the new Brexit Protocol came into play, we thought it would be worth providing an update on the process of shipping works between the UK and Europe, as well as providing further clarity for newer clients on what you need to know before shipping art internationally.

After all, shipping art internationally needn’t be difficult or complicated, so please find below our handy Q&A. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our team and we’d be more than happy to advise.

Which documents do I need for import/export into the UK/from the UK?

Now that the UK has left the EU moving works to and from Europe is much like moving works to other countries around the globe. You will, therefore, require the below documents for every shipment being imported/exported from the UK.

1. A pro forma / shipping invoice
2. T1 transit document  – for import (Don’t worry, we will produce this for you).

How much time should I factor in for customs clearance when shipping art internationally?

Every single artwork that crosses the UK border (inbound or outbound) is now subject to customs clearance. Please allow a few extra days to avoid disappointment. If you are working to a tight deadline, we also have the facility to go through customs, via a third party, at a specialist warehouse which helps to avoid any delays at the port. Please contact us should this be something you’d like us to arrange for you.

Are there any eco-friendly options available?

The biggest recommendation we can give to clients looking to reduce their carbon footprint is to plan ahead. The more time we have to organise a shipment the more options we have available to us to help us to limit carbon emissions and still meet your deadlines. Sea freight, for example, takes longer than air freight but it’s carbon emissions are much lower. For clients that can be flexible with their delivery timeline, we are able to offer shipments on bi-weekly consolidated vehicles, which means that dedicated transport can be avoided. If you’d like to book a shipment on a consolidated vehicle, please click here.

What taxes will I incur when shipping art internationally?

Collectors will have to pay the import VAT for the country that they are importing the artwork to. This will vary by country and our expert team will be happy to advise on a case-by-case basis.

shipping art internationally

If I am only transporting the piece for a limited amount of time, do I still have to pay taxes?

If you are transporting works for art fairs or for a limited amount of time, many countries allow you to defer tax until the works are sold, meaning you may not have to pay tax when the goods enter the country. If you plan to return the goods to Britain within 3 years, this will fall under British Returned Goods CPC/Returned Good relief (RGR). To qualify, you must export the piece under a specific name (i.e. your personal name or company name) at a value that won’t change and under ownership that remains the same through the 3 year period. The works can then be reimported with no tax implications.

Do I require any export licenses when shipping art internationally?

You will only require a licence if the piece you are importing/exporting is over 50 years old. The type of licence required will depend on what you are shipping, it’s value and where to.  As such, we would like to share with you the ‘Export Licensing for Cultural Goods following the end of the Transition Period: FAQs‘, created by the Arts Council. This covers the UK License, Temporary Licences, Open Individual Export Licences and many more. Naturally, if you have any questions please feel free to contact our team and we’d be happy to advise.

Are they any items that I cannot ship internationally?

There are some rare and endangered items that are prohibited from entering or exiting a country or which will need a CITES licence. You can find a full list of these items here. As usual, our team will be happy to advise on this if you have any questions.

What about insurance?

All fine art, antiques and other value shipments must be covered by transit insurance. This may be included in your current insurance cover, so it’s always worth checking with them first. If you still need insurance, our logistics team can include transit insurance on request. We receive very competitive rates, so please ask us and we’d be more than happy to assist.

Need help with an up and coming shipment? You can contact the team at We usually aim to respond within 30 minutes.

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