What could be the impact of Brexit on art logistics?

The UK is now in a transition period with regards to trade regulations, due to be completed by 31st of December 2020. It is still unclear whether a new trade deal will be agreed upon and ratified, opening the door to a “no deal” Brexit.

At the bottom of this page we’ve compiled external resources which can guide you in understanding the effects on art logistics in the event of a “no deal” scenario. However: these may be subject to change and we will always advise to stay up-to-date by performing the necessary due diligence for your organization.

However, Katoen Natie Business Unit Art is placed in a unique position, where many of the effects of a “no deal” Brexit can be neutralized, allowing an efficient and hassle-free continuation of art storage, and fine art transport on the European Continent. Even in case of a new trade deal (this still remains unclear), we can still offer a competitive proposition. In the explanation below we provide extra information.

What does a “no deal” Brexit entail precisely?

Objects which are currently residing in the UK in free EU circulation will become UK goods. Briefly put: in the event of a “no deal” Brexit, import/export measures will change.

Objects traveling from the EU into the UK will no longer enjoy free circulation as the UK will be outside the customs union. This means that objects entering the UK will either be subject to VAT and/or import duties, or have to be temporary imported with a warranty based on the VAT due.

Similarly, in the other direction, objects coming from the UK and traveling into the EU, will be in the same position. These objects will be considered as non-EU goods and subject to VAT (which varies depending on the country of entry) and/or import duties if they need to be imported into the EU (and enjoy free circulation). Alternatively, they can be temporarily imported, with a warranty being applied. So with a “no deal” Brexit it is possible that objects which are at this moment in free circulation, will become subject to customs in the EU.

Proof of ownership and origin will also have to be established prior to a hard Brexit, for the ease of returning loans to their original owners after a “no deal” scenario. Alternatively, these objects should be moved prior to 31st of December 2020 to another EU country, as long as free circulation still applies.

What difference Katoen Natie BU Art can make?

All our warehouses in Belgium are bonded warehouses, which are custom approved zones. Objects can be stored in transit and are not subject to import duties and/or VAT. The other way around, in these warehouses we can also store objects with a free circulation status and they keep their free circulation status in the EU.

Similar bonded warehouses & temporary import facilities exist also in the UK.

However, Katoen Natie has a unique proposition. Only at Katoen Natie are you allowed to remove art objects from these warehouses (e.g. for an exhibition or trade fair) while the objects remain bonded.

This means that the objects can travel the throughout the EU free from import duties and/or VAT, to exhibitions and fairs, without any additional administration, guarantees or costs applying. The administration and cost structure surrounding the movement of your art are simplified/reduced to a minimum.

The simplicity of our set-up is explained in the graphic below:


Why store at Katoen Natie?

As the above shows, after an art storage period with us, you can be sure that your objects can still easily travel the EU. This applies to both objects subjected to customs and objects which have the EU’s free circulation status, while saving you unnecessary costs and headaches.

Furthermore, we store your objects in world class facilities. We offer more than +250.000 sqft of art storage, which is:

  • Hyper-secure (INCERT3)
  • Ecological (powered by wind mills & solar panels)
  • Discrete
  • Climatized (ranging from ASHRAE A++ to ASHRAE A1)
  • ISO9001 certified
  • Inspected by all major Insurance players
  • Competitively priced
  • Situated in the heart of EU, close to major airport/seaport/transport hubs
  • Private vaults or grouped storage
  • Supported by an in house developed collection management system

Katoen Natie is a one-stop-shop, offering all services expected from a professional art logistics player, including art collection management, fine art transport, viewing/sales rooms, condition checks, photography, expo rooms, packaging, installation, courier services, …

Should art already be stored outside of the UK prior to Brexit?

As Brexit has not yet been completed, this is a question to which there is no readily available answer as it depends on the status and available info on the objects involved. For some goods (free circulation objects), this could be useful in order to avoid unnecessary preparatory work and administrative/custom difficulties afterwards. Katoen Natie Business Unit Art can aid with any of your questions.

Want to know more?

Feel free to contact us for free advice on Brexit, art transport or art storage. We already work with company collections, artists estates, museums, international collectors & galleries, foundations, … so chances are we can answer your particular questions with answers stemming from experience.

Please contact us at:

Where can I find a full overview of all services offered?

If you require a physical copy of our brochure, please contact us with your name, e-mail and address and we will send one copy as soon as possible.




Import, export and customs for businesses:

Exporting or importing objects of cultural interest from 1 January 2021: