Thursday, November 29, 2007

International Shipping

I got a question recently from someone wanting advice on shipping sculpture from the US to Europe.

Have you ever shipped art internationally?

Do you have recommendations on methods and companies to use and/or avoid?

Please leave your response in the comments.

1 comment:

Petra Voegtle said...

Hi Deanna,
I found your blog through Tracy Helgeson's blog that I read since quite a while and enjoy your take on various subjects.
Now regarding shipping internationally I can only talk about MY experience shipping from Germany to the US and vice versa since several years.
Since shipping from Germany to US is much more expensive than from the US to Germany I generally use simply regular airmail, package post (Deutsche Post/DHL package post) and always ask galleries and/other orgs to ship back with USPS (regular airmail by US postal services).
This requires that you study carefully the requirements for sizes, weights and stuff like that before. As shipping with parcel/package post from Germany and from the US is registered and thus requires a signature from the addresse I don't see any difference between the services from UPS, FedEx and other besides these being much much more expensive than USPS even after the new fees. If you exceed the max weight/sizes of USPS you will be forced to take one of the other carriers I am afraid.
In the past 4 years since I started exhibiting I have never had a problem besides a delay once on the way from Germany to Chicago. They shipped ground instead of airmail.

The good thing with the shipments to the US is that it is custom free (this applies to all original art by US law) - if you ship something to Europe it might be different from country to country. To Germany everything goes through customs and it is essential that you make a statement such as "for exhibition only", will be returned to sender, no commercial value" - otherwise it could become an issue for customs with a hefty fee. I can only recommend that you do your homework and check the internet for individual information depending on the country you want to send the work to.
Also keep a thorough file of all your papers which means ship-to bill, photos which prove that it is your work, invitation letter or statement from the gallery or venue for participating a competition etc. Ask the gallery/venue people what they potentially need for customs. I know it's a hell-uva-work but done once properly you know the flow for future shipments.
But as I already said I can only speek about shipments from and to Germany.