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Exporting Art – Guidelines


Customs treat Art just like any other product – Get your paperwork right

This is a short guide to help you on your way

THE PAPERWORK 1. Invoice for exporting goods abroad 2. An EORI Number and how to get one – If you are trading with the World you need an identification number. Customs use this to identify the sender and their parcels across all countries. 3. Customs Documentation 4. UK Trade Tariff – export commodity codes – and which codes to use when and for which types of art 5. Customs Charges


1. The Invoice for exporting artwork

It doesn’t matter whether you are a company or an individual.

If you have sold a product to a customer (who’s shipping address is outside of the UK) and you are consigned to deliver, you will need an export invoice.

This is the most comprehensive invoice for exporting artwork abroad that you are likely to find.

This is more like the invoice you are likely to come across when using a courier service.

Download PDF • 86KB

Download PDF • 44KB

Summary of Invoice details When sending artwork to destinations outside the UK, 3 copies of a commercial invoice must accompany each package. The specific details required are: •Artist’s business name, address, postcode, country, telephone (and optional email). •Customer’s name, address, postcode, country, telephone (and optional email). •Invoice number and purchase order number (if applicable). •Date. •Reason for Export. •The VAT (tax) number of the sender if applicable. •Currency used. •Shipping costs. •For each type of goods, the description, HS tariff number, country of manufacture, the number of units, unit value and total value. •Total invoice value. •Additional information include here, Eori number, total weight of package, etc. •Name, official signature on each one and date. Description of Artwork Be as descriptive as possible. •Title •Description of Artwork •Media

​Providing fraudulent data on shipping documents to avoid duty or taxes is illegal.


2. Eori Number

Application for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number

Economic Operators Registration and Identification number – all the reasons why you need a number.

Any business which exports goods out of the UK needs an EORI number to trade.

An EORI number is a unique identification number which identifies who you are to Customs.

It is irrelevant if the economic operator is

  • a company.

  • or an individual.

​An EORI number is used for:

  • all customs related activities within the EU

  • when exporting to a country outside of the UK

Get an EORI NUmber – In the UK, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) assigns an EORI number to importers and exporters. It is easy to apply and the number is usually assigned in less than a week.


3. Customs Documentation

Declaration of Authenticity

We have already covered the commercial invoice above but some countries, in particular the USA, may need other documentation. This is a statement for Duty Free Entry. If the artwork is classified under HS Tariff code 9701, 9702 or 9703 you will need to complete this form otherwise the customer may pay duties unnecessarily.

Shipments of art into the USA are Duty Free on artworks up to $800

Download PDF • 487KB

How to Correctly Fill Out a Customs Form For International Shipping

Failure to use proper documentation completed in full will mean the package being returned, getting stuck in Customs or being destroyed.

If sending artwork through the postal service:

There are two forms – art valued up to £270 and art valued over £270

CN22 – International Customs Declaration Form for items valued under £270.

There are two different CN22 labels that have the same content. The label for International Standard or Economy services carries a barcode and is only available at a Post Office® branch. CN22 – You must state whether the item is: A Gift Documents Sale of Goods Commercial Sample Returned Goods Other You need to provide: Description of Contents – details of artwork Quantity Weight – including packaging Value – true price You MUST also include Tariff code Country of origin of artwork. VAT Number (if applicable) AND include an invoice and DO NOT forget to sign and date the form.

CN23 – International Customs Declaration Form for items valued over £270.

This document requires a lot more information and it is essential you complete it correctly. A false or misleading declaration may lead to a fine or to seizure of the item.


  1. Detailed description. Give a detailed description of each artwork in the package, e.g. “acrylic painting on stretched canvas”.

  2. Quantity of each artwork.

  3. Net weight of each artwork (in kg).

  4. Total weight of the package (in kg), which is consistent with the weight used to calculate the postage cost.

  5. Value of each artwork

  6. Total value of all artwork in the package – specifying currency used (e.g. GBP – pounds sterling).

  7. HS tariff number (6-digit) must be based on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System developed by the World Customs Organization.

  8. “Country of origin” means the country where the goods originated, e.g. were produced/manufactured or assembled. Senders of commercial items are advised to supply this information as it will assist Customs in processing the items.

  9. Give the amount of postage paid to the Post for the item. Specify separately any other charges, e.g. insurance.

  10. Tick the box or boxes specifying the category of item.

  11. Provide details if the contents are subject to quarantine (plant, animal, food products, etc.) or other restrictions.

  12. Licence

  13. Certificate

  14. Invoice – If your item is accompanied by 12,13,or 14, tick the appropriate box and state the number. You should attach an invoice for all commercial items.

  15. Your signature and the date confirm your liability for the item.

You should attach this Customs declaration and accompanying documents securely to the outside of the artwork, preferably in an adhesive transparent envelope.

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4. UK Trade Tariff – export commodity codes

Which codes to use when and for which types of art

4911 91 – Other printed matter, including printed pictures and photographs

This section includes giclée prints and photographs.

9701-10Paintings, drawings and pastels

9701 90 – Collages

9702 00 – Original engravings, prints and lithographs

For the purposes of heading 9702, the expression ‘original engravings, prints and lithographs’ means impressions produced directly, in black and white or in colour, of one or of several plates wholly executed by hand by the artist, irrespective of the process or of the material employed by him, but not including any mechanical or photomechanical process.

9703 00 – Original sculptures and statuary, in any material

NOTE – Frames around paintings, drawings, pastels, collages or similar decorative plaques, engravings, prints or lithographs are to be classified with those articles, provided they are of a kind and of a value normal to those articles. Frames which are not of a kind or of a value normal to the articles referred to in this note are to be classified separately.


5. Customs Charges

Wherever you ship to in the world there are going to be some customs charges. These can be charges for duty, taxes or customs clearance.

It is advisable before shipping an artwork that the customer is aware that charges may be applied and they will be responsible for the payment.

Adding a note similar to the one below to the bottom of a product listing on your webpage is prudent.

Shipping charges cover packing, tracking and insurance. For orders outside the UK all duty fees or addition taxes are the responsibility of the buyer.

Although duty may be zero in some countries taxes may be charged in a range from 5% to 25% and if you have not shipped through a courier your customer may also be charged extra for customs clearance.



Disclaimer – this guide is intended to help artists with exporting artwork from the UK. As far as we are aware all information is correct when published.

We will not be held liable for any information you choose to use.

You may also want to check out:

Shipping a large painting in a crate

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