International Shipping is Complicated

Posted on March 8th, 2013 in Art Business. No Comments.

International shipping is complicated.

I’m shipping artwork from the United States to various countries around the world. After spending a few hours this morning trying to get up to speed a bit on this, a few things are clear.

For packages up to max length 42″ and max length + girth 79″, USPS is almost always the cheapest (cheap being a relative term). First Class is available to a surprising number of locations. I prefer Priority because it includes tracking. I’m pricing my smallest standard framed print from my fine art prints store which is 15″ x 15″ x 3″ and 2lb (the box). $29 to Canada, $34 to Mexico, $38 to South Korea (where my sister lives) and $43 to the UK and EU countries.

I’ve also learned that the buyers of my work will most likely have to pay a customs clearance fee and other duties and taxes (e.g. VAT). I had a buyer in the Netherlands that had to pay 19% VAT! It is difficult to know what these fees will be up front, and the easiest thing is to make clear that the buyer is responsible for paying them. The buyer is also responsible for knowing whether what they’re buying is restricted in terms of maximum value or other restrictions (countries have lists of things you’re not allowed to import at all).

Shipping anything worth USD $2500 or more from the US requires a whole lot more paperwork.