Gander & White Shipping prepares for Brexit

25 April 2019

As one of the world’s leading full-service art shipping companies, whatever the outcome of these prolonged, seemingly endless Brexit negotiations, we intend to be Brexit future-proof. Our time in the EU has been extended until 31 October in order for the UK government and EU to come to an agreement on the future relationship of the two parties.

As a member of the EU, the UK benefits from free movement of goods between EU member states. As such, when importing goods in free EU circulation to the UK from elsewhere in the EU, there is no customs clearance and artworks are not subject to any UK import duties and taxes. Depending on the deal agreed between the UK government and the EU between now and 31 October, Brexit may lead to changes to the sector. It is important to note, however, that breaking from the EU could also yield opportunities.

“All our warehouses are approved customs bonded warehouses, giving us an advantage over other operators in the sector,” says Victor Khureya, Operations Director at Gander & White London. “This means that you can import artworks into our bonded warehouses without paying any import VAT upfront as technically they will not have entered the UK from a tax point of view. Whatever the outcome of Brexit, it will still be possible to import your works of art onto bond, store them in our facilities without a collector or gallery having to pay import VAT upfront. It is possible to transfer works from bond to temporary import and install them in our viewing rooms for viewing purposes. Viewing rooms which are set up as galleries are located within all our facilities”, he adds.

We will continue to use the Calais to Dover route to transport works from mainland Europe to the UK and vice versa but should there be major congestion at Dover, we will also use the Harwich to Rotterdam route.

Although the October ‘flextension’ decreases the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit, it remains likely there will be an administrative cost. Victor says that “the increased paperwork will be time consuming but given that we are authorized to arrange customs clearances at our warehouses, any time increase will be spent at our warehouses, rather than queuing at the ports.”

We will be closely monitoring the negotiations taking place through the final quarter of 2019, and will paying particular attention to discussion regarding Temporary Admission (TA) rules. At present, temporary import facilities are required for artworks imported from outside the EU that are being imported for art fairs such as Frieze or Masterpiece for viewing and possible sale. Being within the customs union, EU exhibitors do not have to pay anything to bring works that are in free EU circulation temporarily into the UK. With Brexit, the UK would sit outside this zone, meaning “artworks coming into the UK will have to come in as temporary imports with a guarantee being lodged on the VAT due.  In the event of a hard or no deal Brexit, if arrangements are not put in place to mitigate this issue, less art may be shown in the UK,” says Alexander Bradford, our Business Development Manager.

Just as all companies with UK operations are doing, we look forward to the conclusion of these protracted parliamentary debates and negotiations between the UK government and the EU. We nevertheless look forward to continuing to offer a comprehensive art logistics service to dealers, collectors, interior designers, galleries and museums worldwide, no matter how the Brexit deadlock is broken.


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