It’s no secret that the art world is quickly becoming more globalized than ever before. Many art dealers around the world are selling their work to people in many different countries, according to demand.
There are multiple situations where art professionals are required to ship their work internationally. While shipping a painting can be affordable, shipping internationally can be pretty challenging. This applies regardless of whether an art seller has years of selling experience or is doing it for the first time.
Fortunately, there is some good news. Selecting a reliable shipping company to ship this artwork internationally for you can be done without breaking the bank!
Here are some of the main things you need to know.
Cost Of Shipping Artwork: Who Pays?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question!
A lot of international art galleries will organize transport on your behalf and you’ll just need to pay via commission. The key is to always include shipping costs and payee details in the consignment agreement or your contract to make sure all the details are correct.
It’s standard practice for the artist to cover the costs of shipping to a nonprofit gallery exhibition and for the gallery to pay for the return cost.
Selecting A Shipping Method
Learning how to move art between countries is complex and often requires lots of different types of documentation.
When you are shipping art, it’s very important to consider the following factors when choosing a shipping method:
- The moving company and the art they specialize in.
- Customs and considerations when shipping art internationally.
- Transit insurance and coverage.
International shipping is much trickier than shipping between states. Many people leave the choice of shipping service up to the buyer as they are the ones who will be covering the cost of shipping for the artwork.
What Services Are Available For Shipping Paintings Internationally?
If you’re planning to send paintings or artwork overseas, you can consider the following solutions depending on the time sensitivity and size of your shipment:
- Express package: urgent package deliveries in around 24 to 72 hours worldwide.
- Standard package: single and affordable solution for sending artwork in boxes. These are often the cheapest ways to ship artwork internationally, regardless of the courier you opt to go with.
- Freight shipping: this is an efficient way of transporting bulkier and heavier loads. It will usually set you back at least $300.
- Van delivery: this is often a great way of transporting goods within a country.
Couriers That Offer International Shipping
Three main factors impact the cost of shipping from the US (or any other country).
- The weight of the package
- The dimensions of the package
- The distance the package must travel
Much like insurance, declaring the value on your package can also increase the cost of shipping. You may also have to pay a surcharge fee of around $7 if the package is going further from the distribution center.
The United States Postal Service International Shipping (USPS)
This service is good for cost-effectively sending smaller packages. This is the least expensive service to ship artwork.
- Transit time may take anywhere from two weeks to several months using this service.
- The majority of international shipments will cost you at least $100 so it’s best to make sure that you get an estimate before shipping to inform the buyer.
- Tracking is usually only available inside of the United States although there are a few exceptions. After it leaves the US and enters the territory of another country, they have its courier and tracking systems.
This company recommends only shipping artwork internationally that has a generally much lower maximum declared value and limited liability of no more than $1,000. It’s best to contact FedEx directly if you want to ship artwork that is of a much higher value.
DHL allows the shipping of artwork. This company specializes in international shipping and is often seen as the most reliable company to go with. However, you cannot send artwork (including antiques and fine art) with an individual value of over $5,000 using this service. A signature confirmation will also be required to verify the item has arrived at its destination.
United Parcel Service (UPS)
In nearly all shipping scenarios, UPS is around $0.50 to $1 more expensive than FedEx. The exceptions between the two are overnight express shipping by UPS and next-day delivery, where the total difference is nominal.
For shipping large artworks, you can also get in touch with freight companies. In addition to shipping at lower costs, they will also ensure all packaging is safe and secure, which can work to significantly lower the effort from your end.
International Shipping Costs: US To UK
These are the cheapest rates for shipping from the US to other countries for a 5-pound package (with dimensions of 5x5x5) so you can look at which courier is cheaper.
- USPS Priority Mail International
Time: 6-10 business days
- UPS Worldwide Expedited
Time: 3-4 business days
- FedEx International Economy
Time: 4-5 business days
As this 2022 price comparison shows, USPS Priority Mail International is the cheapest way to ship artwork internationally from the US to London. The other two may be quicker and generally more reliable, but they will cost significantly more.
How To Reduce The Cost Of Shipping Artwork Internationally
Use Styrofoam As A Backing For Prints Or Works On Paper
Styrofoam is pretty light which means it won’t add a lot to the overall cost of sending the package. It will also protect your print from getting damaged or bent as it travels.
Roll Them Into A Tube
For larger artwork on canvas, you must remove the canvas from its frame and roll it into a tight tube. This could significantly reduce the total shipping cost – especially in the case of international shipments – and will also keep the painting much safer.
Create An Account With A Courier
If you ship quite a lot with a specific courier like UPS or FedEx, you might be able to create an account. Doing so means you might be able to get reduced shipping rates when compared to regular shipping retail costs.
If you are a volume art dealer, it’s a good idea to ask your chosen courier if they offer commercial volume discounts.
The key to shipping artwork internationally is having efficient and robust packaging. This will keep your artwork in the best possible condition as it is being shipped to its final destination. It’ll also make sure the delivery process is very smooth.
International shipping may be made much more expensive due to additional customs charges and insurance costs. Some common charges associated with international shipping include:
- VAT (Value Added Tax) which will need to be paid if you’re shipping to the UK.
- Shipping insurance. Companies like UPS and FedEx can offer a standard $100 shipping insurance amount for all types of artwork. Though additional coverage is offered by the majority of carriers, there’s a big chance the insurance won’t cover the value of a piece of artwork.
This article features some of the cheapest ways and companies to ship artwork internationally. This is because the total cost of shipping depends on the type of artwork, its size, and the distance it needs to travel. Plus, you must also consider who it is being shipped to. As a guideline, you can generally expect to spend anywhere from $80 to a couple of hundred dollars.