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International Art shipping and customs procedures

Updated: Sep 1

Art shipping and customs procedures involve the transportation of artworks across international borders while adhering to legal requirements, regulations, and protocols set by both the exporting and importing countries. The goal is to ensure the safe and legal passage of artworks while protecting their integrity and value. Here's an overview of the key steps and considerations involved in art shipping and customs procedures:

  1. Documentation and Preparation:

  • Invoice: A detailed invoice should accompany the artwork, specifying its title, artist, medium, dimensions, value, and other relevant information.

  • Certificate of Authenticity: This document provides proof of the artwork's origin and authenticity, and it's often required for customs clearance.

  • Export License: Some countries may require an export license to allow certain valuable artworks to leave their jurisdiction.

  • Provenance Documentation: Any relevant historical documentation regarding the artwork's ownership and history can help establish its legitimacy.

  • Customs Declaration: A declaration form must be completed accurately, describing the artwork and its value.

  • Condition reports: We always hope that the artworks arrive as shipped. But inevitably accidents happen, and insurers will want a condition report completed prior to shipping. Make it good practise when shipping artworks to cover you in the worst situation.

  1. Packing and Crating:

  • Artworks should be carefully packed and crated to ensure their protection during transit. High-value artworks might require custom-built crates with padding and shock-absorbing materials.

  1. Shipping Options:

  • Artworks can be transported via various methods, including air freight, sea freight, and road transportation. The choice depends on factors such as speed, cost, and the fragility of the artwork.

  1. Customs Procedures:

  • Import Duties and Taxes: Depending on the importing country's regulations, artworks may be subject to import duties, taxes, and fees. These charges are often calculated based on the artwork's declared value.

  • Temporary Importation: Some countries allow temporary importation for exhibitions or events, with specific time limits. This can help avoid paying full import duties and taxes.

  • CITES Regulations: If the artwork contains materials from protected species (e.g., ivory, certain woods), it may be subject to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) regulations.

  • Valuation and Appraisal: Customs authorities might request an appraisal to verify the declared value of the artwork.

  1. Customs Clearance:

  • Artworks need to be cleared through customs upon arrival in the importing country. This involves presenting all required documentation to customs officials and paying any applicable import duties and taxes.

  1. Temporary or Permanent Importation:

  • Depending on the purpose of the shipment (e.g., sale, exhibition, personal use), artworks might be imported temporarily or permanently. Temporary importation typically requires a deposit that is refundable upon re-export.

  1. Security and Insurance:

  • Transporting valuable artworks carries inherent risks. Adequate insurance coverage should be in place to protect against damage, loss, or theft during transit.

  1. Collaboration with Professionals:

  • Working with experienced art shippers, customs brokers, and legal experts familiar with international art shipping and customs procedures can help navigate the complexities and ensure compliance with regulations.

It's important to note that art shipping and customs procedures can vary greatly from one country to another, and regulations may change over time.

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