Guide Global art transport: Shipping internationally your valuable pieces

We have prepared here at Convelio a little guide to walk you through the process of international shipment!


Having the ability to ship your pieces internationally can be a great growth catalyst for your business.  Studies have shown that, on average, international sellers generate 12.5% more volume compared to domestics ones. Hence increasing your global coverage could be a strategic decision and a leap of faith. Whether you are a gallery wanting to open up to a new range of collectors or an interior designer developing projects in Hong Kong or Dubai, you need to find the right solution that will work for you. 

I-  Go big or go home: preparing for the international

A-  Can you import your pieces to the target countries? 

Basic rules, always have a look at the official customs website of the countries you want to ship for. Why? This is crucial, some countries have many restrictions in the typology/nature of products that they will accept and some will require extra-care or would be rejected at border  (e.g. quarantined in customs). 

Below a short list to simplify your life: 

B-  What are the main issues you can encounter while shipping internationally? 

Importation in a country can require sometimes personal information and documentation from your final clients. In the US, for instance, specific information such as the EX1 form is required. Another issue can be when the country has really stringent import regulations, like in Brazil where there are multiple taxes and duties imposed on imports which can be quite tricky and can raise the cost of the transport for your final client. Last but not least, economic instability is an important factor to consider. Brexit or the China-US trade war on the automotive market are well illustrated examples of this.

C-  Dangerous goods and miscellaneous items transport? 

Although this is not common in the art world, shipping dangerous items requires special care. For instance, shipping a Damien Hirst cow which is dipped in formaldehyde will definitely require a special carrier!

D-  What are the taxes and duties that apply to your shipment? 

Sales taxes are basically a tax that is required by government to be paid on the income generated by the sale of a piece. Duties are a payable tax to be paid to the government based on the typology of the piece. Both of these taxes make the piece more expensive for your final client.  They exist for 3 main reasons: to protect the domestic market from foreign competition, to control inflow and outflow of goods imported, and finally to raise government revenue.  To note, tax and duties may not apply to all destinations. For instance, in the US there is no proper sales tax but rather a merchandise processing fee. Learn everything in our article about USA importation of good!

E- Is shipping insurance mandatory? 

Yes and no... this totally depends on the value of your artwork, your clients and your personal preference. Here are Convelio we do advise you to take insurance, since it provides an extra level of security that protects you from the  worst case scenarios. 

II- The debut: start shipping

A- Streamlining your processes 

We believe that international art shipping should be made easy for everyone, hence finding the proper transporter for your valuable art and design pieces is key. You need a way to streamline your logistics otherwise this will be a complete nightmare. At Convelio, we have developed a tool for you to order, book and manage your shipments online. By accessing your dashboard, you can share your tracking link with your final clients, upload your export/import documentations, and retrieve your invoices. In this way, we are building the backbone of the art market for all art market players!

B- E-commerce shipping

If you are an e-commerce, it is crucial for you to build a ‘click and buy’ experience. Learn everything about how to display your shipping cost on your frontend in here. 

C- Tax & Duty services shipping

It is important to understand the different types of delivery possible. Indeed, several delivery options can be considered depending on your preferences. You can choose either: 

  • DAT : delivery at terminal before the import procedure
  • DAP (or DDU) : delivery duties unpaid - doesn’t  include the import taxes and duties which need to be paid by the customer before delivery
  • DDP : delivery duties paid - duties & taxes are included in the invoice price - you can get the exact amount of what needs to be paid by your customer

D- Hidden fees logistics

When receiving a quote from a carrier always ask questions about hidden fees. The shipping industry can be known for not being completely transparent (e.g. fuel charge, oversized items, estimates…). At Convelio we provide you with a fixed instant rates that will never change! 

III- Shipping to another stage: next level

A- How to save up on costs for art logistics? 

Although shipping with postal couriers can be the most economical option, always have in mind your end client and the piece you are transporting. Reputation cost can be quite heavy and have a direct impact on your business profitability over a decade, so be sure to choose the right person for the job. Asking for quotes from different carriers is always a good way to benchmark the real price of your transport. At Convelio, we are pleased to offer competitive prices simply thanks to technology. We reconstructed the whole value chain of shipping in a way that it allows us to be flexible in our pricing and to always offer you the best price without sacrificing quality. 

B- What to do when an art shipment is stuck in customs? 

Your shipment may be stuck at customs for different reasons (e.g. your piece is prohibited in the country of import, tax and duties were not paid, or incorrect paperwork was filed).  What you need to do is quite simple:  1- Contact your shipping company and ask for clarification 2- Make sure there aren’t any outstanding tax or duties to be paid  3- Re-verify the information given in the documentation and correct it asap  We have customs agents everywhere in the world taking care of these kinds of situation, so we are sure we can get it sorted quickly! 


Do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions! The Convelio team is always here to help! 

October 30, 2019