Importing Your Artwork

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The Commercial Invoice

Importing art work from abroad is, on the one hand, somewhat easy as there are typically no duties to be paid to US Customs and, in the United States, no “value-added” taxes, as is often the case in many other countries. There are several important things that need to be considered prior to arranging for the shipment of art work, however, and in this issue we address the Commercial Invoice (CI) and Packing List. The importer of record is responsible for presentation of the CI to US Customs but, as is usually the case, the CI is prepared by the exporter, not the importer. It is therefore helpful for the importer to make sure the exporter’s CI will contain all, or most, of the information that US Customs will need at the time of import.

For works of art being imported for sale, a CI will be required. The CI must always be in English and should contain several key pieces of information. Not all of these need to be listed in the CI, but, if they are not, a separate document will be needed as part of the import documentation. The information needed includes:

  • The names of the seller (often the artist but not always) and the buyer/importer;
  • The place of export and the final destination in the US;
  • The country of origin (where the goods were created, not where they are being imported from);
  • The title of each work and the name of the artist. If the artist is well-known to the public, no additional information about the artist may be needed but, if not, the importer will need to provide additional information, including where the artist was trained/educated and a brief list of past exhibitions;
  • The purchase price if sold or agreed to be sold, otherwise the current “market” value;

Any additional charges for services needed to get the goods safely from the point of departure to the final destination. These include the costs of packing and crating the works; the cost to get the goods to the port of export; the cost of insurance; and the cost paid for the shipping from the port of export to the destination port.

The Packing List

If there is more than one work packed in more than one container, a Packing List, which describes which works are in which containers, must also be included with the shipment. The Packing List must also be in English.

May 15, 2012
Volume 1, Issue 1
Importing Your Art Work
Craters & Freighters of NWChicago
2750 Greenleaf Ave
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
Phone: +1 (847) 427 0319
Fax: +1 (847) 427 0323

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