Call Us Today: 213-368-3444

How To Ship Art Domestically & Internationally

young woman painting for art gallery

Wondering how to ship art without turning it into a high-stakes game of roulette? Art shipping requires a high level of attention to detail and caution. Artists, art collectors, and gallery owners need to ensure that their valuable art pieces reach their destination unharmed. It can be a complex process, and it becomes more challenging when the recipient lives in a different part of the world.

That's why we're here! In this blog, we'll guide you through the process of shipping artwork safely and efficiently both domestically and internationally. After all, your masterpiece deserves a grand entrance, not a shipping hiccup, right?

From Packing to Paperwork: How to Ship Art the Right Way

Shipping artwork isn’t overly complicated, although it’s somewhat more complex than shipping regular, less-fragile items. Most artwork is fragile and highly valuable. Therefore, it needs extra protection during transportation to ensure it reaches its destination in good condition. Choosing the right packing materials and shipping company can make all the difference.

You'll also need to acquire the necessary documents for shipping internationally, but complying with the applicable laws and regulations (unlike with some hazardous materials, alcohol, etc.) will not be too much of a burden.

Below, we will guide you through the process of preparing your artwork for shipping both domestically and internationally.

The Art of Shipping Artwork: A Step-by-Step Guide


Staring at a masterpiece, wondering, "How on earth do I get this beauty to its new home unscathed?" We've got your back with a foolproof roadmap – a comprehensive guide on how to ship art to ensure a smooth journey from canvas to final destination.

So, what is the best way to ship art? Follow the guidelines below.

1. Prepare Your Artwork Before Shipment

Most carriers have professional packing staff on retainer. They have the experience and expertise to pack your art pieces safely and securely. However, if you do decide to take care of the packing yourself, there are a few key things to consider if you want to know how to ship art properly.

Art comes in different dimensions; you need to measure the height, width, and length of your piece. This will help you select the proper sized container so that the piece does not move around during transit in your art shipping box and potentially get damaged.

Here are a few other things that you need to do to prepare your artwork for shipping:

  • Remove the glass if there is one in the frame, as this can easily break during shipping. Wrap it separately.
  • Dust the surface of the artwork behind glass to avoid any dirt or debris getting stuck between the artwork and the protective layer.
  • Secure any loose parts such as frames, hanging wires, or other attachments.
  • Cover the artwork with a layer of acid-free paper or protective wrap to prevent scratches or smudges.

2. Choose the Right Packaging Materials

So, how to protect your art when shipping? It all starts with proper packaging materials – they should be of high quality and designed to provide maximum protection to your artwork.

Here are some of the protective materials and techniques that you can use to safely wrap up your art piece:

  • Bubble wrap: A protective layer of bubble wrap around the entire painting as extra padding can absorb the impact of any external force while protecting the artwork from scratches.
  • Cardboard corner protectors: Little pieces of cardboard can be wrapped around the corners of the painting to protect the edges of the artwork. You can also use foam corner protectors. It's an easy way to prevent damage in transit.
  • Foam boards: If you are shipping paper or fabric-based art, use foam boards to provide extra stability and prevent fold lines. You can also add an inner layer of cardboard padding to keep your artwork safe.
  • Acid-free paper: Acid-free glassine paper is recommended for protecting artwork from any acidic damage, especially oil paintings, and in that case, should be wrapped around the item first.
  • High-quality packing tape: Duct tape and cheap tape are not strong enough to hold the packaging materials together. Therefore, it's essential to use high-quality packing tape to ensure that the artwork remains intact. If you intend to ship framed art pieces, you will also need to secure the glass on the outside with tape – this way, even if the glass does break, the tape will prevent it from puncturing the canvas beneath it.
  • Add a shipping label: Clearly mark the package as fragile and consider using special handling instructions to alert shipping services to exercise extra caution. While shipping services may offer additional fragile stickers or labels, taking the initiative to apply them securely enhances the chances of your package receiving the careful attention it requires during transit.

3. Choose the Right Shipping Company

When choosing a shipping company for your artwork, it's essential to do your research and choose a reputable one. After all, you want nothing but shipping experts on the task, right?

Here’s something to ponder when weighing your shipping options:

  • Shipping insurance: Ensure that the shipping company provides shipping insurance to protect your artwork from damage during transit. Pro tip? Take snapshots of your art from every angle before shipping. This can come in handy in case your masterpiece takes a hit during its journey, and you need to file an insurance claim.
  • Damage during transit: Check if the shipping company offers refunds or compensation for damages incurred during transit.
  • Additional bubble wrap: Some shipping companies offer additional bubble wrap and packaging materials at an extra cost.
  • Shipping costs: Consider the shipping costs of different shipping services to find the best shipping rates.

4. Insure High-Value Art

You should consider taking out full-value insurance if you are shipping high-value art pieces. Most major carriers provide basic insurance, but it is rarely enough to cover the full price of the item being shipped.

At UNIVAL Logistics, we offer full-value shipping insurance coverage of up $150,000 for domestic and $100,000 for international shipments.

5. Size Matters

The size of your artwork also impacts the shipping process. Larger artwork weighs more, requires additional protection and larger packaging materials, which increases the shipping cost.

Here are some tips for shipping larger paintings:

  • Use larger foam or cardboard corner protectors to protect the edges of the artwork.
  • Add an extra layer of wrap and cardboard to provide an additional layer of protection.
  • Use a tape measure to measure the artwork, and add a couple of extra inches to each side to ensure that the artwork doesn't sit too tight in the packaging, which can cause damage during transit.
  • Inform yourself about weight and size restrictions for different delivery options when shipping larger pieces to minimize surprises, delays, and potential complications.

6. Direct Contact

When shipping artwork to a buyer, it's essential to maintain direct contact throughout the shipping process.

Here are some tips for maintaining open communication with the buyer:

  • Provide the buyer with the tracking number so they can keep track of the shipment.
  • Keep the buyer informed about any delays or changes in the shipping process.
  • Ensure that the buyer has the correct shipping address and all other necessary information before the artwork is shipped.

How Do I Ship Art Internationally? Here's What You Need

packing the drawing

Wondering how to ship art internationally? When venturing into the global shipping arena with your artwork, meticulous documentation is your passport to success.

Here's a checklist of vital documents to ensure a smooth international art delivery:

1. Export Invoice: Your Artwork's Passport

Craft a comprehensive export invoice detailing the goods shipped, their value, buyer and seller information, accurate dates and addresses, and the terms of sale. If you're selling the artwork, consider this your commercial invoice or the ultimate bill of sale. For art exhibitions, opt for the proforma invoice.

2. Export Licenses: Navigating Legal Waters

The need for an export license varies based on the destination country and the age of your artwork. Don't set sail without checking the legal requirements beforehand – securing the right export licenses ensures a hiccup-free voyage for your precious creations.

3. Harmonized System Codes: Decoding Global Trade

Enter the world of Harmonized System (HS) codes, a universal language for classifying traded products. The U.S. relies on a 10-digit Schedule B number to classify products for export. Find your magic number here and make sure you're fluent in the appropriate HS codes for both the origin and destination countries. It's your key to navigating customs duties and taxes.

How to Ship Art Domestically: Streamlining the Journey

When your art adventure is confined within borders, the focus shifts to domestic shipping. Here's how to ship art domestically for a smooth local ride:

1. Packing Perfection: Shielding Art on the Home Turf

Ensure your artwork is securely packed, with a wide range of extra layers of protection for any unexpected bumps in the road. Domestic shipping may seem less daunting, but a sturdy packaging strategy is still your best defense against transit mishaps.

2. Choose the Right Carrier: The Road to Reliable Delivery

Selecting the right shipping company is pivotal for a successful domestic art journey. Research carriers are known for handling delicate cargo with care and consider options that offer insurance coverage to add an extra layer of security, as we've discussed.

3. Insurance for Peace of Mind: Safeguarding Your Artistic Investment

Though domestic shipping may feel less risky, unforeseen events can still pose a threat. Explore insurance options to protect your artwork during transit. It's the safety net that ensures your piece of art arrives at its destination unscathed.

4. Documenting the Domestic Trek: Keeping Records in Check

While not as intricate as international shipments, maintaining records remains crucial. Keep a checklist of the artwork's condition, take photos, and document any packaging or handling instructions. These records can be invaluable if issues arise during domestic transit.

Unival Logistics: Your Journey to Peace of Mind

Shipping art demands meticulous planning and an eagle eye for details. The right packaging materials and a reliable shipping partner are your secret weapons in guaranteeing your masterpiece reaches its destination unscathed. At Unival Logistics, we don't just deliver your items; we promise peace of mind.

Whether your art is bound for the next town or across the globe, we've got you covered with reliable and affordable shipping, coupled with full-value insurance. Armed with the insights on how to ship art shared in this post, rest easy, focus on your craft, and remember the timeless adage, "Better safe than sorry."

Because when it comes to shipping artwork, your peace of mind is as priceless as the art itself!

Latest blogs

What Is a Delivery Exception and How To Manage It?

Wed, Jan 31st 2024, 00:02

Continue Reading →

The 4 Most Important Shipping Documents for Domestic Shipments

Tue, Jan 30th 2024, 23:31

Continue Reading →

How To Ship Art Domestically & Internationally

Thu, Jan 18th 2024, 01:00

Continue Reading →

Essential Advice for Packing and Shipping Fine China to Customers

Thu, Jan 11th 2024, 00:11

Continue Reading →

What Is the Chain of Custody in Logistics & Why Is It Important?

Tue, Dec 26th 2023, 01:47

Continue Reading →



Call Us Today

Get premium full-value shipping insurance at affordable rates and be sure your parcels are 100% safe during transport. Work with a logistics powerhouse - get in touch with us today.


Contact Us

Want a peace of mind when shipping valuable packages? Our experts are happy to ansver any questions you may have and provide you with a tailored soulution that meets your unique shipping needs. Email us today and ship your luxury items with ease!