Many British institutions and galleries are rushing to ship artwork to and from the European Union (EU) before the Brexit deadline of 29 March as there is uncertainty over the free movement of goods in the event of a no-deal scenario.

The primary concern is that shipments will be held up at customs, with the worry that this could be for prolonged periods of time as the EU and UK transition to the new system. The other serious concern is that there could be hefty EU import taxes once Brexit occurs. This has already caused some early cancellations of displays with Tornabuoni Arte in London closing two weeks early in an attempt to avoid multi-million-pound re-import bill. Italy’s import rate stands at 10%.

The general belief is that a hard Brexit means all shipments to and from the EU will require customs clearance, which will result in more paperwork and costs for both dealers and fine art agents like ourselves. There are also questions about the VAT exemption for work that is imported temporarily for events and there has been no information from HMRC regarding this.

The Irish backstop is also causing some issues, with Eva Rothschild planning on exhibiting work in Venice then toured through Ireland starting at the Visual Centre for Contemporary Art in Carlow and ending at Void Gallery.

Museums face similar problems with uncertainty over export licensing regulation and it is believed that some museums are already dialing back the number of pieces that they borrow or lend with European partners.

Many public funded museums and galleries are also worried about loss of funding and staffing, in particular both security and conservation are areas that could be affected negatively.

Shipping companies, meanwhile, are advising clients to make sure records and bank VAT deferment facilities are up to date.

While we can not be certain about the prospects of shipping your art to and from the EU following Brexit, if you would like to securely transport it within the UK we have extensive experience in art shipping and secure facilities. Get in touch with Aardvark Art Services today for your art shipment needs.