Source Antiques Like the Pros: How do I ship antiques from Europe to the US?
Sourcing antiques like a pro isn’t simply knowing where to buy antiques: Interior designers, antique dealers, landscape architects and other design professionals not only source antiques in Europe, they also learn how to ship antiques from Europe to the US. I spoke to a room of design professionals on How to Source Antiques like the Pros with interior designers Robert Passal and Garrow Kedigian at an event at the D&D Building hosted by The Robert Allen Duralee Group.
(The event was streamed on Facebook LIVE by Aspire magazine, watch here.)
One of the most asked questions at the event was, “How do I get it home?” The Antiques Diva fine arts and antiques shipping partner has tried to make it as easy as possible.
How do I ship antiques from Europe to the US?
1. How do I get my purchases to my shipper?
When you’re buying antiques overseas and make a relationship with an antiques shipper – they will give you a Purchase Order book and tags/stickers. Each item you buy –you write your purchase in the Purchase Order book. For large items, you can either pay for them at the time of purchase or have our shipper pay for them on your behalf before they do collections. In the PO Book you number each item you buy – you write on a tag the corresponding number and tag all your purchases. You put tags to put on each item you buy. Note the use of the word “buy” – when you put the tag on a piece, that piece is considered sold whether you’ve paid for the item or are waiting for your shipper to pay later on your behalf! When you write the PO – you’ve written your name and the vendor’s name, and that is a legally binding commitment to buy that piece. Even when no money has been exchanged, the purchase is made. The good news is that the vendors HOLD the item for you while you have time to arrange international bank transfer and coordinate your collections. The bad news? Vendors get REALLY upset if they’ve held an item for several weeks on PO and you cancel the order. Canceling an order can result in that vendor never being willing to sell to you again.
When you have your shipper pay on your behalf at the end of your buying tour – you tally all your purchases and make one bank transfer to the shipper. Your shipper will then pay each vendor money on your behalf.
Antique sourcing pros select their shipper in advance – this saves them time and money, but many of the antique shows in Europe have shippers on hand for last minute and unexpected purchases.
2. What does international shipping cost?
Shipping isn’t cheap. We can’t estimate your shipping until after you’ve made your purchases and we know how much crating and wrapping is required to protect and ship your purchases or how many places you’re going to buy at – and thus how many collection points you’ll have to pay for.
Go big or go home. Buying just a few items is the most expensive way to ship.Where you save money is when you buy a full container. It’s hard to estimate the cost of a full container – but it can cost about $15,000 – for maybe 40-50 pieces of furniture. Buying and shipping in bulk is when and where you save money. If you spend $100,000 buying antiques in Europe on pieces that would have cost $300,000 to $500,000 in the USA – at that point the cost of shipping a container is negligible!
Our Antiques Diva shipping partner has a warehouse in Antwerp so they can store your antique purchases and you can buy over time and consolidate your shipments.
3. How long does it take to ship?
You’ve bought your purchases, you’re excited to get them! Be prepared that it is going to take a long time. Your shipper will probably say you’ll have your goodies in a month because it’s about 25 days at sea. That doesn’t consider:
- Your money has to be transferred to your shipper
- Your shipper has to collect your purchases from your vendors.
- Your shipper has to wrap and crate your purchases
- Your items have to clear customs
Some countries take longer to ship from than others. I always say expect 2 months, but be prepared for 3 months to get your antiques delivered. Interior Designer Garrow Kedigian recommends taking clients antique shopping early in the design process.
4. What do I have to worry about?
Our Antiques Diva shipping partner tries to make it as simple as possible. The reality is, shipping is always difficult. The reality is, something can always go wrong with shipping.
5. What if a piece is damaged in shipping?
Make sure you have insurance, either through your shipper or your own American insurance.
6. How does customs work?
You can choose your own customs broker if you already have a relationship with someone or your shipper can appoint a customs broker, and the fees are nominal. During our talk at the D&D, Garrow Kedigian tells our audience, “Don’t be afraid. It’s not tremendously difficult.” In New York he always works with the same customs broker. When buying or shipping antiques it’s all about relationships. Relationships get you the best prices – but also perhaps more importantly when shipping gets you the best customer service.
7. Antique shipping tips from the pros
- Carry back the small items in your carryon, says Robert Passal – even if it weighs 100 pounds! Interior designer Justin Shaulis shared that he bought an albino tortoiseshell and hand-carried it because import laws changed while he was in the buying process!
- Antiques are not taxed, so if you have documented antique pieces you will not pay an import tax.
- Robert Passal often shops with a friend and finds that consolidating shipments saves money when shipping antiques. Remember the more you buy, the more you save on shipping! And consider consolidation. Garrow Kedigian reminds you, “if you’re willing to wait, your shipper can often consolidate his shipment with another client’s because shipments come regularly to the US.”
Do you have questions about how to get your antiques home? Contact us for international fine arts and antiques shipping information and to get a quote:
Antiques Diva Shipping Services
REQUEST A QUOTE
FAX: +32 (0)3 283 73 49 MOBILE: +32 (0)478 01 01 01
If you’d like to book an antiques buying tour in Europe, Asia or the US let me know what you’re looking for and when you want to shop, and we will create a custom, 1:1 antiques shopping tour that meets your requirements and budget!
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Toma – The Antiques Diva