Artists Can Avoid Customs Holds and Duties: Apply These Codes When Shipping Your Art Internationally

Recently, I shipped several of my sold paintings internationally, and wondered why my packages were always held by customs even on expedited shipments.

Perhaps you’ve had this experience–buyers, and you the artist, scrambling to get the details on how to get your art released from customs. Phone calls trying to discover why the shipment was held up. Wondering what additional information they require. What can I do next time to avoid all this? Is there a protocol for sending artwork to buyers outside of the country you are based?

It can be quite a complicated puzzle with a simple goal of delivery to your buyer. Then I learned that I can avoid customs hold-ups by apply a trade tariff code to the outside of my shipping box.

The trade tariff codes starting with number ’97’ alerts customs worldwide to the fact that the item is an original work of art and is therefore exempt from import duties.

For instance, if you are based in the UK and are sending overseas please mark your package clearly with Export code: 97011000

If you are based outside of the UK and are sending your artwork to a customer within the UK mark your parcel: Commodity Code: 9701100000.

Any other variables – say you are sending from USA to Finland or between any other countries then mark you parcel: Export code: 970110

It is really important to use these codes,  otherwise items can get stuck in customs!