A Comprehensive Guide to Fine Art Packing and Shipping

A Comprehensive Guide to Fine Art Packing and Shipping

Fine art has a rich history, originating in the 18th century. Every art form empowers individuals to make bold self-expressions amid the world’s chaos. And recently, statistics have shown a global rise in art culture, with art sales reaching a staggering $68 billion in 2022. Investors observe this surge and perceive this specialized sector as a promising investment due to art’s inherent social, intellectual, cultural, and aesthetic value that significantly impacts its monetary worth.

High investment in fine arts has created a need for businesses that provide quality packaging and shipping procedures, which ensures safe and damage-free delivery. These businesses must collaborate with a loading dock for supplementary equipment, such as loading springs. Check out https://partsbrite.com/collections/dock-leveler-springs for more information on why loading springs are necessary. If you’re a fine art business owner grappling with optimizing packing and shipping procedures without incurring extra costs, read on for insightful guidance.

Steps for Packaging Fine Art

If you’re feeling uncertain about the necessary steps, the following guidelines can help clarify the process.

1. Pad the Boxes

If you are shipping 3D art pieces yourself, the first step for packing is to insert cardboard padding. You must place a cardboard layer into the larger shipping box, creating a secure compartment for a smaller inner box. This internal box absorbs shocks from potential impacts during shipment, safeguarding the contents from damage. You can further enhance protection by utilizing bubble wrap or crumple-up tissue paper to fill empty spaces within the box.

If shipping multiple items within one box, ensure each item’s side is padded to prevent collisions and damage. For additional security, place a layer of bubble wrap at the box’s top and bottom.

2. Right Size of the Box

When shipping a painting, opt for a box that is 2-3 inches larger than the artwork on each side. If the painting is too massive to fit within a standard box, you must slide two boxes together to create a larger container. And with some adjustment, you can combine four boxes to accommodate even larger pieces. Cardboard boxes are reasonably priced and, if correctly used, offer sufficient protection to ensure the art’s safe transit.

3. Wrap the Paintings

Choose a gentle material that won’t harm the paint, such as acid-free glassine paper or art plastic. When shipping multiple paintings in one box, wrap each piece individually and use sheets of cardboard or foam to separate the items. This precaution prevents the paintings from rubbing against each other, reducing the risk of damage.

Bubble wrap is another commonly used packaging material ideal for safeguarding fragile and breakable items, such as fine arts. These wraps offer intensive protection, featuring evenly spaced air-filled bubbles that serve as a cushioning agent for delicate objects. Bubble sheets can be easily cut into any required form, providing a custom fit for your art piece. However, please note that bubble wrap can only be used as a second layer of protection since it can damage the painting surface.

Wrapping your art with bubble wrap prevents unwanted movement within the packaging, ensuring complete security. When ordering bubble wrap, ensure you order multiple rolls so you never run short, and you also have a choice of different bubble wrap sizes, such as 12”, 24”, or 36” wide rolls, to facilitate packaging customization.

4. Insure the Shipment

Obtaining artwork insurance is important since art pieces are valuable and fragile. The coverage protects against damage, destruction, and theft, saving you from potential financial losses. It also proves invaluable in situations involving fires, floods, or natural disasters. Many modern shipping companies now offer art transportation services that include artwork insurance, ensuring peace of mind while the artwork is in transit.

Before shipping, obtaining a written estimate of the item’s value from an appraiser is essential. This documentation becomes crucial if you ever need to file a claim with the insurance company. The appraisal streamlines the process and safeguards your interests.

Customs Preparation

People often hire an art logistics company to smoothly handle all the documentation and customs requirements. However, if you decide to do it yourself, below are some crucial documents that you need to ensure a stress-free process.

1. Customs Declaration Forms

These are required for commercial shipments and vary depending on the value of the artwork. You must complete such a form properly.

2. Trade Tariff Commodity Codes

These codes are vital in categorizing goods and facilitating package release from customs. The commodity code not only sets duty rates for the goods but also determines any restrictions, prohibitions, and other essential details. People also commonly refer to commodity codes as Taric Codes, HS Codes, Tariff Codes, or Tariff Headings.

3. Export License

Depending on the destination country, the age, and the value of the artwork, you might need export licenses. These licenses are essential because they keep track of the items leaving a country, providing governments with crucial information about the shipment, sender, and receiver. The system helps regulate international trade between countries and alerts authorities to illegal behavior.

4. Economic Operator Registration and Identification Number (EORI)

An Economic Operator Registration and Identification Number (EORI) is essential to ship art within or outside the European Union. This unique identifier is necessary for businesses and individuals engaged in trading, serving as the go-to number for all customs procedures and information exchange with Customs administrations. It’s a key piece in the trading landscape within the EU.

5. Value-Added Tax (VAT)

When bringing packages into the UK, it’s important to note that a Value-Added Tax (VAT) must be paid. VAT is a consumption tax evaluated based on the value added at each stage of producing a good or service. Note that every business involved in the value chain receives a tax credit for the VAT they’ve already paid, making the system more balanced and fair.


The increasing demand for fine art paintings and other artworks drives the growth of art businesses. Every fine art-related company must acquaint themselves with packing and shipment tips to ensure a seamless and worry-free delivery process, ultimately leading to impeccable customer satisfaction.

When choosing an art shipping company, ensure it offers transit art insurance to safeguard against potential damage. Following the shipping process diligently is vital, as negative reviews can harm your reputation and revenue.