In instances where goods are leaving the UK both the UK and European licensing systems are based upon a series of thresholds.
Under European Community law for most items the EU threshold in the UK is £39,219. In countries which operate the euro this is 50,000 euros.
Under UK law there is an Open General Export Licence (O.G.E.L.) covering the majority of categories of antiques and collectors’ items over 50 years old, if the value per article, or matching set of articles is less than £65,000.
The thresholds for some categories vary between nil and £180,000. Items with values above the O.G.E.L. threshold will always require an export licence if leaving the UK. Further details are available in the Export Licensing section of this site
Further details of the export licensing system are available on the Arts Council website. Further details are also available on the Export licensing section of this site.
Exporting to EU states
O.G.E.L. thresholds are the only thresholds which need be considered if the destination of the goods is another European Union member state. The licence which has to be applied for is known as a "UK licence" since it is governed by UK (not European) legislation.
Exporting to non-EU states
In the case of goods destined for outside the EU, an EU licence has to be applied for rather than on OGEL licence.
A good dealer should be able to help you with this but should you wish to make the application yourself application forms a full list of thresholds are available from:
Export Licensing Unit
Arts Council England
21 Bloomsbury Street
London WC1B 3HF
Telephone: +44 (0) 20-7268 9606
VAT for exports within the EU
The VAT rules for moving goods between EU states depend on the VAT status of the parties involved and the chosen form of VAT used for the sale (ie "margin" scheme or standard).
If you are a private citizen residing outside the UK in an EU members state then you will be required to pay VAT included in the amount you pay for art or antiques purchased in the UK.
You will not be able to reclaim this VAT. However, you will not be liable to pay any further VAT in your home country.
A British dealer selling to a VAT registered business from a non UK member of the EU has two options.
i) Sell under the margin scheme which will include a non-recoverable amount of VAT which will leave the item eligible for sale under the margin scheme in your home state
ii) If you can provide a full VAT number with two letter country code prefix the transaction can be ‘zero-rated’. You will need to account for the purchase on your VAT return as the UK dealer will be declaring the sale on their VAT EU Sales List.
VAT for non-EU exports
If a dealer operates the VAT retail export scheme they may be able to grant a small discount off their normal UK margin scheme price if a buyer, resident in a country outside the EU, presents a VAT Form 407 at the Customs desk of their port or airport of departure from the UK.
Once Form 407 is stamped by Customs it must then be returned to the dealer as evidence of the export of the goods. Customs staff are unlikely to stamp the form for goods which cannot be inspected in person because they have previously been checked in to hold luggage.
Entry taxes at destination
Many non-EU countries levy duties and taxes on antiques over 100 years old and works of art at a lower level or rate than is the case for ordinary goods. To assist with evidence of eligibility BADA provides a comprehensive antiques certification service. (see below)
Rates of duty for non-EU countries
Up to date information about duties and taxes payable at destination may be obtained either from your national government or for UK residents contact:
Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
1 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0ET
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7215 5000
(ask for Tariff Section, then the country concerned)
BADA certification service
Antiques exported to some countries may gain duty-free or reduced-duty entry if accompanied by a special pre-printed BADA certificate of antiquity approved by the relevant authorities in the country concerned.
For some additional countries the procedure involves BADA issuing a letter certifying the items listed on a schedule prepared by the exporter as antique.
For other countries these letters can be issued to assist with customs procedures at the port of entry. Naturally in all cases our assessors will need to have actual sight of the goods concerned.
Countries requiring a pre-printed BADA certificate
Australia - Please note that whilst a BADA certificate will provide eligibility for a lower rate of import duty it will not avoid liability for the Goods & Service Tax (G.S.T.) (currently 10%) payable on most goods entering Australia.
Items left by will to someone resident in Australia will be allowed in duty and G.S.T. free, provided the bequest is specifically detailed in the will and a copy of the will and death certificate are supplied to the authorities.
Bahama Islands - Photographs are also required.
Brazil - See comments for Venezuela.
Canada - (Two copies of the certificate required)
Certificates can be issued for goods over 100 years and over 50 years. All goods entering Canada are subject to a ‘goods and services tax’ of 7% if they are subsequently sold on.
New Zealand - Please note that whilst a BADA certificate will provide eligibility for a lower rate of import duty it will not avoid liability for the Goods & Service Tax (G.S.T.) (currently 12.5%) payable on most goods entering New Zealand.
Items left by will to someone resident in New Zealand will be allowed in duty and G.S.T. free, provided the bequest is specifically detailed in the will and both a copy of the will and death certificate are made available to the authorities.
South Africa - 14% VAT is charged on antiques entering South Africa, this can be reclaimed if the person importing the item is VAT registered.
Countries for which a special letter is either required or helpful:
Barbados - To assist with entry only
Malta - To assist with entry only
Morocco - Six copies (with original stamps) of invoice and BADA cover letter
Singapore - To assist with entry only
U.S.A. - To assist with entry only
Venezuela - Certificate should be taken to a public notary who verifies with BADA that the Association has issued the certificate and also verifies the signature of the Secretary.
This service of endorsement of invoices by BADA can be provided for any country requiring proof of antiquity.
Please note: Customs regulations and tariffs may change, and are correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication.
Applying for a BADA Antique (Customs) Certificate
For more information and forms please contact Riley Grant at:
Address: BADA, First Floor, 21 John Street, London WC1N 2BF
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7589 4128
Endangered species export permits
For more information about the permits needed to export antiques containing or made from specimens of endangered species, such as ivory, rosewood or coral, please see the Buying for export section of this site.