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Importing Art Into the U.S.

Importing Art Into the US
Handling art is a delicate job. The process of importing art into the US from around the globe takes a detailed plan. Get the advice of a licensed customs broker on importing art into the U.S.
USA Customs Clearance
April 26, 2019
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Last Modified: December 2, 2021

Importing art into the U.S. is often a necessary step to success for American art collectors and resellers. Few things compare to the thrill and excitement of finding the perfect piece of artwork to add to a personal collection or gallery for resale. However, shipping art to the U.S. can be challenging due to many requirements.

When importing art into the U.S. for commercial use, you must complete CBP Form 7523. If the value of the art is over $2,500, an ACE Manifest must be submitted and a customs broker needs to process the import. When importing art for personal use, an oral declaration is sufficient.

Work with a specialist to make importing and exporting to the USA a hassle-free process.

Get the details you need with our import consulting services.

What are the Rules and Regulations for Importing Art Into the U.S.?

There tend to be fewer rules and regulations when it comes to importing art compared to other items. However, there are still a couple of important pieces of information worth nothing. Before beginning the process of shipping art, it helps to know this information to avoid potential problems. Some of the required details include:

Value of the artwork- Different rules apply depending on the cost of the items being imported. Always be as accurate as possible when providing the value. Typically, the customs duty or import tax applied to an import is based on a percentage of the overall value of the items. For this reason, border agents are on the lookout for misrepresentation of value when it comes to artwork. Be sure to obtain and provide official documentation confirming the value of your imported items.

Tariff Classification- Imported items that pass through U.S. customs must have the correct associated tariff code listed for each item. These codes are listed and organized in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Each specific code relates to a category of goods that determines the duty rate for all imported items. Listing the wrong HTSUS code can lead to potential delays for your import.

No matter how complex your art shipment is, a Licensed Customs Broker can assist in navigating all of the necessary guidelines.

Is There an Import Duty on Art?    

In the majority of situations, original works of art are exempt from import fees or duties. Chapter 97 of the HTSUS defines original artwork as art that the original artist created, exclusively by hand and without any mechanical process. Therefore, mass-produced reproductions are not eligible for the same duty free exemption.

Another exception can be the frame included with the artwork. As long as the frame that accompanies the art is standard for the work of art, then the frame itself will be duty-free as well. If the frame that accompanies a work of art is not typical for that type of art, it should be classified separately according to the HTS and could be eligible for a duty fee.

Need Help Figuring Out the Import Duty For Your Art?

Our licensed professionals have the knowledge and expertise to support you. Get help from our experts.

Importing Antiques Into the US

Antiques are exempt from import duties. To qualify, antiques must be at least 100 years old and have documentation included that confirms the age. Imported antiques found to not be at least 100 years old can be subject to an import duty between 5.2 and 25 percent depending on where the antique came from. CBP Form 7523 must be submitted with the antique. If the value of the item(s) is over $2,500 an ACE manifest needs to be submitted and a customs broker must complete the import.

Signs to look for in a trusted artist or dealer

Signs to Look for in a Trusted Artist or Dealer

It’s important to make sure you’re working with a reputable business or individual. Buyers need to be aware of potential scams when buying art. Purchasing from an established and notable gallery or museum is usually a safe transaction. However, when purchasing from a private individual, there are steps to take to ensure your seller isn't a scam artist.

Research and consider the following when working with a private artist or art dealer:

  • Does the individual have a business for their art? When someone has taken the steps required to form a business for their artwork, that establishes a high level of credibility. There are specific guidelines to follow when conducting official business. Being familiar with these guidelines shows the individual is comfortable with formal business.
  • Have they displayed their work in an official capacity? If an artist has worked with art-based organizations in the past, they should be familiar with meeting strict requirements. This experience for the artist can come in many forms. Some of this experience can include displaying art at a reputable museum or participating in art festivals or fairs that have a detailed application process.
  • Does the individual belong to professional art organizations? Depending on whether you’re working with an artist or an art dealer, there are a number of professional groups that they could be members of. Each organization has its’ own guidelines for joining. Some have a more accessible and open policy, while others are quite strict and exclusive in their membership. Belonging to professional organizations further confirms the individuals’ dedication to their craft and overall professionalism.

When importing art, it helps to have peace of mind knowing that you are working with a qualified and professional individual.

Work with a specialist to make importing and exporting to the USA a hassle-free process.

Get the details you need with our import consulting services.
How Should I Pay to Import Artwork Into the US

How Should I Pay to Import Artwork Into the U.S.?

Once you’ve confirmed the credibility of the seller, there are quite a few choices available for how to pay for the art itself and the import process. Some artists or galleries have a preferred method of payment and often will not accept other types.

Most international buyers and sellers complete transactions for artwork via International wire transfer. However, when there is an opportunity to choose how to pay for artwork, it helps to know the pros and cons of your payment options.

  • PayPal- PayPal is a popular choice due to the ease of use and added benefits. These benefits include no processing fees for the buyer, encrypted financial data, and the ability to file claims and disputes through PayPal’s platform.
  • International Wire Transfer- This method of payment is often used for international transactions involving commercial goods. Since banks for both the buyer and seller must participate to complete a wire transfer, there is a sense of security in completing transactions this way. Be aware that there are fees associated with international transfers which vary from bank to bank.
  • Letter of Credit- If you plan to import art regularly from the same seller, a letter of credit can be a beneficial option. Banks provide a letter of credit to the buyer. When given to the exporter, this lets them know how much credit is available to you as the importer. If an exporter accepts a letter of credit, the bank is responsible for outgoing payments. The buyer then pays the bank in accordance with the specific terms of the letter of credit.
  • Documentary Collection- Paying by documentary collection is generally a safe payment method. Similar to wire transfers and a letter of credit, this process involves the banks of the importer and exporter. Payment is authorized when specific, agreed upon shipping documents are received and processed.

Regardless of the type of payment method used when importing art, it’s important to consider a number of factors including the specific situation and the seller’s preferred method of payment. Working with a Licensed Customs Broker can simplify the payment process.

How Should Artwork be Packed and Shipped?

Since artwork comes in many different shapes, sizes, and textures there isn’t one particular packing and shipping method that works for all situations. For example, you wouldn’t use the same process to pack and ship an eight-foot watercolor painting, that you would for a twenty-foot tall wooden sculpture. Specific details such as climate can even come into play when working to preserve the quality of the artwork.  The process and costs can also vary when it comes to how your artwork is shipped.

When importing multiple pieces of artwork you may have to decide between a full cargo load (FCL) or loose cargo load (LCL).

  • Full Cargo Load- If you have a large volume for your shipment, FCL shipping is typically recommended and is sometimes the cheaper option. FCL shipping will face fewer delays since all of the freight will be in the same category.
  • Loose Cargo Load- When there isn’t enough inventory for a full cargo load, LCL shipping will likely be the way to go. Since your artwork could be included with other types of goods, it could face unforeseen delays. Additional paperwork from multiple vendors could also slow down the shipping process.

A Licensed Customs Broker has experience in all aspects of shipping your art and can recommend the best choice based on your unique situation.

Go ahead and buy a customs bond today

and get your freight on the way around the globe.
shipping art from canada to the us

Shipping Art from Canada to the U.S.

When shipping art from Canada to the U.S., importers need to complete CBP Form 434 and CBSA Form B232. These forms allow for goods exported from Canada into the U.S. be exempt from import and export duties in most cases. Both forms need to completed, otherwise a shipment can face possible delays.

You also need to be aware of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Formerly known as NAFTA, the USMCA dictates that most goods exchanged between Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. are exempt from import duties. For this reason, shipping art from from Canada to the U.S. typically requires less paperwork and is cheaper when compared to other countries, making Canada an attractive option when importing art.

Some Canadian artists or art dealers may sell artwork in the U.S. at a tradeshow or other event. In this situation, CBSA Form B232 will allow the artwork to gain re-entry into Canada without facing any import duties.

Go ahead and buy a customs bond today

and get your freight on the way around the globe.

Guidelines for Shipping Art from the U.K. to the U.S.

Artwork from the U.K. is in high demand due to its’ unique style. Museums and galleries across the U.S. often display this work to give Americans a glimpse into their culture.

When importing art from the U.K., collectors and resellers need to be mindful of possible restrictions on artwork. Cultural goods (art, antiques, furniture) older than 50 years may require a special export license. The application for this license is available online.

This protocol was put in place to monitor goods that may have specific cultural importance to the country. Before completing the import of any art from the U.K., verify if the export license is needed to avoid a delay.

Additionally, UK exporters may require some additional documentation when shipping artwork to the U.S. This is needed in some cases to avoid Value Added Tax (VAT) rates when exporting goods from the country. Ultimately, abiding by the additional document requirement will keep import costs low by avoiding this tax.

What if Artwork is Damaged During Shipping

What if Artwork is Damaged During Shipping?

Receiving your artwork should be the end of your import journey. If your items arrive damaged though, there’s more work to be done. Luckily, following some simple steps can make this process easier.

  1. Pay for the shipment of the art. Even though the artwork arrives damaged, the documentation of the delivery will be needed during the claims process. When damage is noticed at the time of delivery, you need to note it on the delivery receipt.
  2. Take photos of the damaged goods as soon as you can, before they’re unloaded if possible. This will help avoid potential disputes with the carrier that the goods were damaged by you during the unloading process. Provide these photos along with required paperwork when submitting the claim.
  3. File a claim with the carrier as quickly as possible. For most carriers, the timeline to submit a claim is within 60 days of a received shipment. Be sure to have all necessary paperwork when filing the claim including: Description of damages and loss including quantity and value of the damaged goods, copy of the bill of lading, and copy of the invoice from the supplier.
  4. If the damage isn’t noticed until after the delivery has been made, you must request an inspection by the carrier. Some carriers require an inspection request be completed within 21 days and a written notice as well.
  5. Keep all damaged items until the claims process is complete. Some carriers may want to further inspect the damage during the process.

Be sure to save all documents related to your claim even after it’s been completed. If you’re having difficulty during the claims process, your Licensed Customs Broker may be able to assist you. Another precious item that should be handled with the utmost care is gold. Check out our article on importing gold to the U.S. to learn about the specifics for bringing in this valuable commodotiy.

Do I Need a Customs Bond to Import Art?

When importing art into the U.S., if the total value of your shipment exceeds $2500 a customs bond is required. Having a customs bond will ensure that all taxes and fees are paid and reduce the likelihood that your shipment will face delays at the border.

Customs bonds can be purchased individually or a Licensed Customs Broker may recommend using their bond when importing your shipments.  

Work with a specialist to make importing and exporting to the USA a hassle-free process.

Get the details you need with our import consulting services.

Which Type of Customs Bond Should I Use?

When a customs bond is required, there are a couple of options to choose from. It helps to know the differences between the two to be sure you select the best choice for your situation.

  • Single Entry Bond- As the name implies, this bond is typically recommended for importers that are looking to import only one shipment during the course of the year. There is a minimum amount requirement which states the bond needs to cover the value of the goods, as well as taxes, fees, and duties that may be included. An additional amount may be required to meet other regulations as well.
  • Continuous Entry Bond- For importers looking to bring in multiple shipments of artwork throughout the year, a continuous bond is recommended. The cost of a continuous bond will vary based on specific needs, but a minimum of $50,000 in coverage must be included. This type of bond will cover all of the importer’s shipments into the U.S. for one year.

You can purchase a customs bond through USA Customs Clearance powered by AFC International. Your Licensed Customs Broker may also suggest using their bond to cover your imports.

Using a Customs Broker to Import Art

Using a Customs Broker to Import Art

Needless to say, there are many important details to consider when importing art. Navigating all of this information can be time-consuming and stressful. For this reason, many art importers work with a Licensed Customs Broker. During the import process, a customs broker can assist with the following:

  • Ensure your shipment meets all rules and regulations set forth by Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
  • File all necessary paperwork
  • Determine the best shipping and entry methods for your items

When combined, these services work to make sure that your shipment arrives on time and avoid any issues at the border.

When you’re ready to start importing artwork or other items like importing fitness equipment, our support agents are ready to assist you. Use the chat feature below and a team member will answer your questions and help you get started.

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55 comments on “Importing Art Into the U.S.”

  1. I will be purchasing a hand painted life size fiberglass cow from France and having it shipped to the US (for personal use, not for resale). Is there any action required to do so or should the shipping companies handle everything door to door?

  2. I bought a wildlife print from a private seller in Canada. I would like to bring it back to the US by car. It was $3500 Canadian dollars. Do I need to do anything special for it? Planning on picking it up ASAP

  3. Hello
    I have just moved to Italy from the USA and I am a painter. I have three commercial galleries that I work with in USA and would like to send paintings to the galleries. The value of the paintings range from 500 to 5000 USD. What do I have to do in order to clear customs and get the work to the galleries.

  4. I want to import 2 pop art paintings from Spain to the USA. The frames are made of wood (I don't know what type of wood). The paintings were originally made in Cyprus and I had them shipped from Cyprus to Spain a few years ago. The paintings have been wrapped up ready for shipping for the last few months. Because the frames are made of wood, will the paintings need to be fumigated ?

  5. Hello, I have some original paintings (3)I would like to bring to the USA from Spain. They are family paintings I would like to have in my home. Their value is around $1,000 or less each. I don't have any documentation of purchase since they were purchased by my parents many years ago. Do I need any kind of documentation to prove I am the owner? Thanks

  6. Hello,

    we are looking to import an original art installation (string art technique) to the US from Poland. The installation is getting produced for a private museum in the US. It will be prepared in Poland, packaged and built up again in the museum in US.
    I would like to learn about the costs/paperwork etc.
    The installation price is over 10000$

    Kind Regards,

  7. Hi, I’m Canadian, hoping to bring some original paintings from Canada to the USA and gift them to a friend. What would I need to declare for this? Thank you!

  8. Hi,
    I wish to bring a recently acquired Batik painting from Indonesia to the US by plane. The value of the Batik is about $5500. I’m not sure if Batik is considered art work as defined by the US customs and how to handle the import of that painting. Can I actually bring it with me along in the plane or does it need to be shipped?

  9. I am planning to bring about 12 pieces of my original artwork (sculpture) from Canada into the US to be exhibited in an accredited museum in Maryland for 5-6 months. After that these pieces will be returned to Canada. Considering that will these required any different documentation enter the US?

  10. Hi,

    I have an art gallery in London, United Kingdom. I have client interested in buying a limited edition, signed print by Damien Hirst. The value is £ 9,500. What would the import fees be for my US-based client?

    Many thanks

  11. Hello - I want to bring a piece of art to the USA for my children. It is about 80 years old - all hand made of stone.
    Is there any duty to be paid on such an item?
    Thank you for your Kind answer.

  12. I intend to import about $10000 worth of original paintings into the US from Israel to sell at synagogue events and trade fairs.
    Please advise the procedure for import.
    Sincerely, Bernard Zagdanski

    1. Hi Bernard,

      We can definitely go over all of the procedures you'll need to follow. Because your import is for resale and valued at over $2,500, you'll need to secure your shipment with a customs bond. We'll be happy to provide you with a customs bond and also consult with you to review all of the import requirements you'll need to comply with. One of our import experts will reach out to you shortly to provide further assistance. We look forward to helping you!

  13. Hello
    I would like to send two oil paintings to the USA for sale by auction. They were originally painted in Arizona in the mid 1950s and so would be returning there. They are less likely to sell in UK as their subject matter is USA desert scenery. Please advise if there is any customs to pay on this. Their value would be up to $7000,00.

    1. Hi Maureen,

      Original artwork is classified as duty-free. You will need to provide documentation proving that the artwork is original and not a mass reproduction.

  14. Hello. I’m an artist working in the US, selling my work in a gallery here. I’m considering spending some time in South America, and would be making art there. I would need to ship the work I make back into the US to sell through my gallery, would this require any additional payments or paperwork to get it shipped back?

    1. Hi Jaimon,

      One of our customs experts will reach out to you shortly to assist you with your inquiry. We look forward to helping you!

  15. Hello - Would an original painting from the UK have duties applied to it when shipping to the USA? The value is 2450GBP. Also some vintage (not antique) chairs from Portugal, value $2200USD Thanks!

    1. Hi Boyd,

      Original artwork is duty-free as long as documentation is provided that proves the art is not a reprint or mass production. If these products are being imported for a business, we'll be happy to help you!

  16. Hello. I would like to know if I can bring by plane 6 works of art of my property for a value of 300 usd each.(1900 usd total estimate)
    All of them are without their frame.

    1. Hi Sergio,

      You can certainly bring these with you to the U.S. The procedure that you'll need to follow will depend on whether these are being imported for personal use or commcercial resale. One of our customs experts will reach out to you shortly to obtain some additional information so that we can help you. We look forward to assisting you.

  17. I am purchasing an original oil painting (not for commercial use) from Germany, whose value is 2600 USD. No plans to resell or give away. Will be packed and shipped by 3rd-party shippers.

    What do I need to do, if anything?

  18. Hello,
    We commissioned a Japanese artist to make a painting, which she is sending to us in a crate from Japan via FedEx. It will be for personal use to be displayed in our home. Do we need to pay an import tax? If yes, how do we do that? It seems from the article, a tax is only paid if we were going to sell it.

    1. Hi Lawrence,

      You won't need to pay an import duty on this shipment as long as sufficient evidence is given to prove that the artwork is original. A certified statement from the artist is typically sufficient.

      1. Hi Randy.
        I sold my original painting /above $3000/ from UK to USA via known gallery, that deducted VAT from me, using hyperwallet system which is a nightmare. Im an individual, not vat registered neither in USA nor UK. They claim its based on law. I have provided certificate about the work that is original. Should I been charge vat by them?

  19. HI. I am trying to import a work of art from a family relative who lives in Sicily. The approximate value for his work is $700 USD. It is not clear to me from reading your site what I must do to safely and legally get this painting here to the US. Could you please offer some suggestions or a path I need to follow to get more help?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Michael,

      One of our import exports will reach out to you shortly to provide assistance. We look forward to helping you!

  20. I want to import some pieces from Japan, one is a series-issues lithograph (1/50 pcs) the other is an original canvas work. Can they both come in duty free?

    Is the sales tax charged if imported to California, or is it better to send to another state?

    The gallery can arrange shipping but are you capable to work directly with the gallery and arrange instead. My concern is they won’t know the proper way to declare on the import forms.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Eric,

      You asked some great questions! We advise consulting with our Licensed Customs Brokers. They'll be able to answer all of your questions and make sure your art is imported properly. You can purchase a consulting session at the link below.

      Import Export Consulting Services

  21. I will be travelling to US from India and want to bring 50-70 pieces of original art work (small size paintings without frames) to sell. The original cost of all the art work would be ~2000 USD.
    Most of the paintings will be sold through NGOs or religious/cultural trusts. How should I declare and is any custom duty required?

    1. Hi Nimish,

      Because the paintings are original artwork, there should be no duty applied to them at the time of import. However, since they're being imported for commerical use (resale), you need to secure a customs bond for your shipment. We offer continuous customs bonds for just $245. We look forward to assisting you further!

  22. Hello i'm looking at importing resin based wall clocks, art pieces and wood based products from India. Would look at reselling them here in the US. Would there be in import duty or fees on the shipment if the total cost of the entire shipment is less than $2500?
    Also what documents would I need to prove that it is original art work?

    1. Hi Khyati,

      You won't need to pay any import duty if the shipment value is less than $2,500. A written declaration signed by the original creator of the art should be provided at the time of import. One of our import experts will reach out to you provide additional information on this declaration.

  23. I wish to import 12 pieces of original wall art work made with Fiberglass size will be 6.5 x 4.5 almost and its also called FRP from India to Reno Nevada USA

    My intention resell them here as retailer online . Each has an original cost of about US$700 per pieces.Total 12 pieces

    I have a plan this shipment in August or Sept 2020 and if all going well I have plan to import regular basis , could you please let me know what is the import duty in USA and what is HST code
    Please response Aooreciate

    Thanks much,


    1. Hi Harvinder,

      Generally, original artwork is duty-free. In order to qualify for the duty-free status though, you'll need to ensure you have the proper documentation in place. Our Licensed Customs Brokers can assist you with this. They can also assist in identifying your artwork with the proper HS Code. You can reach out to our team at (855)912-0406 or schedule an import consulting session with our Licensed Customs Brokers. We look forward to helping you.

  24. I am driving from Canada back to the USA on June 25 (Peace Bridge), Mom wants to give me a statue. Looks to me like Sysiphus (guy pushing a rock) by Ganu Gantcheff. idk what it is worth. They got it at an estate auction 30 years ago for ~ $350. No receipt. Is there duty on this? Pls contact me me regarding if I need to have a broker or export/import paperwork.

    1. Hi Frank,

      As long as you're not planning to resell or give this statue to someone else, a self-declaration at the border should be sufficient and duty-free.

  25. Good afternoon.

    I'd like to know how I can import art into the U.S. from Africa?
    Should I talk to a company in the port of Togo (the country I'm in) to move the art to the USA?
    How do I rent a container and a ship to transport the goods?

    Thank you for your help.

  26. Hello my name is Jonathan Heiland, I am one of the Customs Specialists with USA Customs Clearance. We will gladly assist you with your import but we will need more information about your shipment. For immediate attention please reach out to We look forward to working with you!

  27. Hello my name is Jonathan Heiland, I am one of the Customs Specialists with USA Customs Clearance. We will gladly assist you with your import but we will need more information about your shipment. For immediate attention please reach out to We look forward to working with you!

  28. Hello my name is Jonathan Heiland, I am one of the Customs Specialists with USA Customs Clearance. We will gladly assist you with your import but we will need more information about your shipment. For immediate attention please reach out to We look forward to working with you!

  29. Hello my name is Jonathan Heiland, I am one of the Customs Specialists with USA Customs Clearance. We will gladly assist you with your import but we will need more information about your shipment. For immediate attention please reach out to We look forward to working with you!

  30. Hello my name is Jonathan Heiland, I am one of the Customs Specialists with USA Customs Clearance. We will gladly assist you with your import but we will need more information about your shipment. For immediate attention please reach out to We look forward to working with you!

  31. Hello my name is Jonathan Heiland, I am one of the Customs Specialists with USA Customs Clearance. We will gladly assist you with your import but we will need more information about your shipment. For immediate attention please reach out to We look forward to working with you!

  32. I’m considering shipping a bronze statue from Oaxaca Mexico. I remember my parents shipped a wooden statue 25 years ago and US customs broke the statue to look for drugs. Do I need to be concerned about this possibility today? Please email me.

    1. Good Morning David! Very good question! I have forwandered your question onto our Mexico Experts. They will reach out to you via email to assist!

  33. My father has some antique arts that has more than 100 years, but as he got them from my grand father he doesn’t have any documents about it.
    They are vases like gallet and lalique.
    How to import to Usa for future sale or bid?

    1. Good Morning! Sound like you have some beautiful family antique arts! We would definitely want to make sure that you had all the required paperwork! We suggest our import consulting service for such a situation! We look forward to hearing from you soon!

  34. I wish to import 2 dozen pieces of original art work from Montreal to Florida.

    My intention is to open sell them here. Each has an original cost of about 4000 CAD.

    I have a shipment of personal goods already coming down with a friend in a trailer on 2019-12-15.

    There is sufficient room for the art work. If things go well I would like to do it again through 2020 as well.

    I do not want him to have any problem at the border.

    1. Hello - we replied to your inquiry by email. Please let us know if you have other questions.

  35. Need info on duties for a bronze handmade statue coming from China to USA . Value is $17000 will likely ship FCL in a 20’ container.
    What will fees and duties be on this end and insurance if you handle that. Thanks.

    1. Hello- We replied to your inquiry by email. Please let us know if you have other questions.

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