International Antiques Shipping Dossier: Start to Finish

My life is nothing if not ironic… as I write a post on the importance of choosing an expert international shipping company to transport your purchased antiques from Europe back home, I sit in my own Berlin home, surrounded by crates and boxes, as I await the movers to transport my things to my new home in Venice. The challenges are many… I’m leaving a 2,000 square foot apartment and settling in just over 800 square feet. When the fire burned my 1st Berlin apartment to cinders, there was nothing but sadness and regret for all that was lost in the fire… but I had no decisions to make, the fire consumed nearly everything I owned. As I move to Italy, I have to make choices on what to take, what to store, and what to sell or give away… hard but necessary choices. Our things are important to us. They tell our stories: where we’re from, who we are and who we hope to be. Choosing a caretaker to package and move your treasures – whether you’ve owned them for decades, a few years or merely days – is an important decision. And yes, ironically: over 3 days I lost two movers: one mover’s truck broke down and he can’t meet my move-out deadline. I quickly booked a second mover, who notified me 24 hours later that my shipment was too large for them to handle (how large can a 800m² shipment be? I showed him photos and provided a detailed description of my requirements, and they accepted the contract – then canceled the following day.) I have rebooked: third time’s the charm! (One friend who heard my tale of shipping woe bravely inquired, ‘But don’t you have a share in an international shipping company?’ Yes! but moving to Venice has unique challenges: that’s why I was hiring experts at moving to Venice! 

Our belongings are important to us. Whether your purchases are for your home, for a client or to stock your shop, I always recommend you hire international shipping experts to safely transport your purchases home. That’s why when I launched The Antiques Diva® shipping services, I partnered with a firm with over 50 years expertise in international shipping.

Ahley Gilbreath, Ashley Gilbreath Interior DesignMy friend and client interior designer Ashley Gilbreath, owner of Ashley Gilbreath Interior Design, took several Antiques Diva shopping tours, and now uses our buying services and our in-house art and antiques shipping service to collect her goods from the dealers and warehouse; crate, wrap and protect her pieces; then ship her purchases home to Alabama! Behind the scenes our AD&CO Logistics team handle all the paperwork, taking photos of her inventory and managing all the details involved in an international shipment of valuable antiques.

Ashley graciously allowed us to share her shipping story with you, so you know what to expect when shipping antiques internationally.

When combined with more modern pieces, antiques add a sense of patina and character to a space. 

– Ashley Gilbreath, Interior Designer

Antiques Diva Shipping Services: Turnkey From Purchase Right to Your Door! 

At AD&CO Logistics we offer 3 types of shipping services and 3 modes of transport.
Dependent on your final destination, you may choose to have your goods shipped by air, sea or land. You choose the level of shipping service which is most suited to your specific needs and budgets.

  1. Port
    • From collection point in Europe until ship reaches destination port
    • Up until the point where the container is released
    • At this point, the client’s customs broker takes over
  2. Door-To-Door
    • All above PLUS the container is delivered to the client’s requested delivery final destination
    • Empty container is picked up 2 days later and returned to the shipping line
  3. White Glove
    • All above PLUS goods are unloaded and unpacked at the client’s requested delivery final destination
    • Movers will place the goods as directed by the client

There are three phases to Antiques Diva shipping services: Documentation, Load and Ship, and Delivery.

1st Phase: Documentation

  • AD&CO Logistics collects all PO (Purchase Order) books and photographs related to your purchases (if booked on an Antiques Diva Tour, then we receive this information from the Diva guides responsible for your tours, regardless of the number of vendors or the number of countries)
  • Before we can collect your goods, the vendors must first be paid.  Typically the client sends one wire to AD&CO Logistics and then we manage all the payments on your behalf 
  • Once all vendors are paid, we collect your items and consolidate them back at our warehouse 
  • We prepare all the various customs paperwork and file it on your behalf so that your goods can leave Europe
  • We create a detailed packing list using the international coding system so that it can be reviewed by the customs broker in the destination port
  • All your goods are then safely packed at our warehouse, loaded into a container and taken to the port to be placed on a vessel from one of the global shipping lines
  • If required, we fumigate 

Prior to shipping we store your goods in our secure cold storage warehouse in Antwerp.

Our packing service including wrapping your goods in protective materials, crating, loading on pallets for transport, and using the most advanced art and antiques packaging and crating industry practices.

AD&CO Logistics creates a detailed inventory list for shipping, organize all customs and VAT paperwork and the export and import documentation necessary for your goods.

2nd Phase: Load and Ship

Shipments are organized in 20ft, 40ft or LCL ( Less Container Loads), and can be a full or partial container:

  • We load your goods in a container and deliver to one of the major global shipping lines (such as Hapag-Lloyd, Maersk, etc)
  • When shipping by sea, depending on the destination port your goods will be at sea for 2-3 weeks – can be longer depending on weather
  • Your customs broker – or one selected by us – will work on your behalf at the destination port to ensure your items are cleared. They prepare your customs clearance at the destination. They have all the documentation and compute the final import duty (tax)
  • Once your goods clear customs and then you paid all import duties, the customs broker notifies the shipping line that they can now release the container
  • The shipping line will then instruct a trucker to contact the client and set up an appointment for delivery of goods to final destination

Your full or partial container is carefully packed by our shipping experts to protect your goods during transport.
Our team are experts at the jig-saw puzzle of international shipping to maximize how much you can safely ship at a reasonable cost.
Large goods can be safely wrapped, fragile goods may require custom crating: each piece is carefully assessed to protect your investment.

3rd Phase: Delivery

There are several different steps involved here and the client’s specific responsibilities will depend on the type of shipping service they have purchased (port vs door-to-door vs white glove). Remember, at any point in this process, you are free to contact AD&CO Logistics by phone, email or text if you have questions or concerns. In general, the following steps will happen once the ship containing your goods arrives at the destination port:

AD&CO Logistics | Why You Should Choose a Shipper Who Specializes in Antiques versus a Regular Shipper | The Antiques Diva

  • Your container will either be “dropped” at client’s destination or it will be a “live unload”. If dropped, the client is given a number of days (usually 2 days) to empty, or “free”,  the container. Each additional day beyond the allotted time will be charged at a daily excess fee rate
  • Depending on type of shipping service purchased, the client will need to organize the unloading and unpacking of the container (e.g., hiring movers, etc)
  • The only time the container is unloaded for the client is if the client purchases “White Glove Service” which is a significantly higher price than “Door-to-Door Service”
  • When a client hires “White Glove Service”, the goods are unloaded and unpacked by a local mover and then delivered to the client’s final destination and placed at the direction of the client. If “White Glove” is purchased, all of this will be arranged by AD&CO Logistics on behalf of the client
  • Once container is empty, the shipping company returns to collect the container and bring it back to the port 


Our AD&CO Logistics invoice provides explicit detail of all shipping charges

International Antiques Shipping Dossier | Toma Clark Haines | The Antiques Diva Shipping Services


Ashley received her shipment in October. When I asked her about her experiences with Antiques Diva shipping services, she said:

Super easy and straight forward! This is usually the one element of the process we are relatively unsure of. This time it was organized, easy to follow and simple! 

Portfolio | Ashley Gilbreath Interior Design
Image and Feature Image from Portfolio: Ashley Gilbreath Interior Design


Contact Ashley Gilbreath Interior Design 

Do you still have questions about international shipping of antiques? See our Frequently Asked Questions 


FAX: +32 (0)3 283 73 49       MOBILE: +32 (0)478 01 01 01  

Do you want to discuss an Antiques Diva Tour or our shipping services? I’d love to hear from you:

Toma – The Antiques Diva