Detail of a Chinese porcelain famille rose vase

Buying fine art or antiques for export is relatively straightforward in the United Kingdom.

Buying for export - Antique export licences

From the UK to EU states

The current export licence threshold, for most objects over 50 years old destined for Europe stands at £65,000

Most items below this threshold may be exported without an individual licence under Open General Export Licence procedures, although some categories (paintings of historical British personages for example) have lower or higher thresholds ranging from £0 to £180,000.

From the UK to non-EU states

A basic £39,219 threshold applies to destinations outside Europe, with variations according to category.

A good dealer should be able to help you with this, or alternatively, application forms for export licences and the full list of thresholds may be obtained from Arts Council London, Call +44 (0) 20 7268 9606 or click here to visit their website

Online guidelines for completing application forms can be found here

Buying for export - Endangered Species

Items containing specimens of endangered flora or fauna such as ivory or tortoiseshell usually require a permit for export from the UK to destinations outside the European Union. Likewise imports from countries outside the EU also require a permit.

A separate licence, known as a CITES permit may also be required by other countries to import antiques containing such specimens. These certificates can be readily obtained, providing the piece is a genuine antique that has not been worked (i.e. carved or repaired) since 1947.

BADA dealers will often be happy to apply for permits on your behalf as part of their service. Alternatively, application forms can be obtained from C.I.T.E.S. Licensing +44 (0) 30 0020 0301 or click here

Buying for export - Antique firearms

Firearms more than 50 years old may require an export licence (see above). In addition, a Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) export licence may also be required for firearms manufactured since 1897 and for some made before that date.

Your dealer should be able to advise you about a licence, or alternatively contact the Export Control Organisation, on +44 (0) 20 7215 0531.


For advice on buying antiques and fine art click here

For advice on choosing an antiques or fine art dealer click here

For advice on selling antiques and fine art click here

For advice on caring for antiques and fine art click here

For advice on insuring antiques and fine art click here