As Brexit Looms, Collectors Are Looking for Import and Export Solutions. This Belgian Company Promises to Be a One-Stop-Shop

Katoen Natie Business Unit Art's bonded warehouses offer unique benefits to European collectors.

Katoen Natie's art storage facilities.

Like it or not, Brexit will be enacted this December 31 with (barring a miracle) no deal reached between the UK and the EU and no additional extension period granted. What will this mean for collectors in the soon-to-be-split territories?

Primarily, lots more taxes and lots more paperwork. So, how can they prepare? Katoen Natie Business Unit Art, a subdivision of the Belgian logistics service provider and port operator Katoen Natie, is positioning itself to provide solutions for European collectors during the transition. Below, it offers a few tips.

Katoen Natie's art storage facilities.

Katoen Natie’s art storage facilities.

How Will Art Collecting Change With Brexit? 

On one end, the UK will leave the EU customs union, meaning shipments between the UK and the EU will now require import and export formalities on both ends. What’s more, when it comes to cultural goods, export restrictions will apply for shipments to and from the UK. In other words, objects that are currently residing in the UK in free EU circulation (VAT paid) will become UK goods. All in all, this means that artworks in the UK will no longer benefit from EU free circulation, and, starting January 1, VAT will have to be paid again on any work entering the EU from the UK.

Planning Ahead

For European collectors who are considering moving collections or objects from the UK before the end of the year, Katoen Natie’s bonded warehouses in Belgium does offer unique benefits. These spaces are customs-approved zones, meaning that objects can be stored in transit and are not subject to import duties and/or VAT. On the flip side, objects with a free circulation status, with VAT already paid, can keep their free circulation status in the EU.

The most unique benefit of storing with Kateon Natie is that art objects can be temporarily removed from its warehouses (e.g. for an exhibition or trade fair) and the objects will remain bonded. In layman’s terms: Objects can travel throughout the EU free from import duties and/or VAT, to exhibitions and fairs, without any additional administration, guarantees or costs applying. 

Katoen Natie's art storage facilities.

Katoen Natie’s art storage facilities.

Other Considerations

With Brexit around the corner, clients can no longer import into the UK for free EU circulation at the rate of 5 percent. Among the remaining EU nations, Belgium offers an equitable alternative of 6 percent.

The company says its goal is to “save unnecessary costs and headaches” and bills itself as a one-stop-shop, offering every imaginable art logistics necessity, including art collection management, fine art transport, viewing and salesrooms, condition checks, photography, expo rooms, packaging, installation, and courier services. 

And, with little over a month left before the end of the year, Kateon Natie phones are already ringing round the clock.


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