Jargon Busters : Selling outside UK.

Jargon Buster: Selling Outside the UK

Jargon Busters Selling Outside the UK provides an overview of the key documents and terms you will come across if you export your artwork.

Jargon Busters

What are Commercial Items?

This means any goods exported/imported in the course of a business transaction, whether or not they are sold for money or exchanged (e.g. sent to an art fair or “not for sale” to an exhibition).​​ ​

Which Commodity code?

Here is a list of the common commodity codes for artwork.

Most paintings and drawings 9701.10.0000 

Original sculptures and statuary, in any material 97030000

Printed or illustrated postcards; printed cards bearing personal greetings, messages, or announcements, whether or not illustrated, with or without envelopes or trimmings 49090000

Books, brochures and similar printed matter, in single sheets, whether or not folded (excl. periodicals and publications which are essentially devoted to advertising) 49019900

Calendars of any kinds, printed, incl. calendar blocks 49100000

Collages and similar decorative plaques 97019000

Original engravings, prints and lithographs  97020000

For a complete list of codes go to the government website https://www.trade-tariff.service.gov.uk/sections

Government updates website constantly

What are the Customs and Import/Export Charges – including VAT?

 Customs Charges are based on valuation of the goods and agreed rates  for trade and can comprise:

  • Most Favoured Nation (MFN) Rate
  • Sales Tax / Value Added Tax (VAT)
  • Additional duties, taxes and charges as determined by an individual company (or state in the USA)

They vary from country to country, or trading blocks, and will change as the UK negotiates new trade agreements.

What are Customs Documents?

This are formal forms Customs declaration form CN22 (UK) for lower valued items of artwork Customs declaration form CN23(UK) for higher    value artworks i.e. over £270..


The ATA Carnet for artwork being shipped for exhibition only.

What are Customs agents and brokers

Individuals or companies who make sure your goods clear through customs.

Distance selling

The term used to describe supplies of goods from one Member State of the EU to a person in another Member State

What is an EORI number?

This is Economic Operator Registration and Identification number you should request from the customs authorities of the EU country responsible for the place where the artwork arrives first in the European Union.

What is an Export Invoice

This details who you are, who you are sending your art to, the type of artwork, its value, weight etc and the commodity code (see below).

Who are Fast parcel operators

These companies transport documents, parcels and freight across the world in a specific time frame. They can deal with customs for you, as part   of their delivery.

You can download a list of customs agents and fast parcel operators from this government website – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/list-of-customs-agents-and-fast-parcel-operators

Choose the right packaging for your artwork

What is an Import Invoice 

This is the same as an Export Invoice but obviously with the details of who is sending and who is receiving reversed.  It enables you to return your artwork to your studio within a Customs defined period (normally two years), and to claim relief from payment of import duty.

What is the simplified declarations procedure?

This is a two-part system where in part one you only have to submit some details before you are allowed to export your art. However, you then have to provide the further details within 14 days of the export taking place.

VAT on Artist’s Sales

            The question of exemptions.

  • You may be exempt from charging VAT so long as your sales remain under the registration threshold (currently £85,000) – and you are not registered for VAT.
  • Artists with a studio at home need to take advice about when all sales from their home studio become vat-able – because this activity constitutes a business. However, if there is no suggestion that you are running an art gallery to which the public have access you may be exempt.

Selling to any country in the EU now(from July 2021) includes VAT for any goods worth over €22/£19.  This is organised via an EU One Stop Shop. https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/business/vat/oss_en

However, Buyers normally has to pay all local Taxes – this includes VAT. So in most cases you as an artists need not worry about this.

For more information go to Selling

NOTE: Jargon Busters Selling Outside the UK

None of the information on this page is definitive, comprehensive, or complete. None of the advice on this page should be treated as professional or legal advice. Information and advice may also be out of date – customs’ rules and regulations are constantly changing with new trade deals etc. 

Therefore, please check with Government website and or a professional advisor if in doubt.





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