Choose the right art courier

Art shipment providers work in the shadows, despite their role being vital to the art industry: there’s a whole logistical network that flies into action to fulfil shipments for every exhibition and sale.

It involves as many tasks as there are artworks. Whether they be fragile, temporary, heavy or bulky, they all require special attention to be delivered on time, safe and sound. That’s why choosing a reliable art shipment service requires your care and attention!

Here are four criteria to help you choose the right company:

  • What’s included in the service
  • Safety as a priority
  • Handling pieces
  • Dealing with red tape

Art courier, what’s included in the service?

The first thing to look into when you’re dealing with a reliable professional with expertise in the art industry is the service they’re providing you:

  • What’s included in the service? Art couriers can provide a wide-ranging service: it may include packing, picking up the piece, shipment, logistics, storage, regular or door-to-door delivery, unpacking, installation etc.
  • Do they provide bespoke services? Some pieces are exceptional (heavy, large, incredibly fragile etc.) and may require a transport service to match.

If a courier provides a turnkey or bespoke service, it means they have the funds and resources (personnel, material, logistical) required to ship your pieces, even the most delicate ones. Make sure you get as much information as possible when you request a quote.

specialized art courier

Safety comes first in art

When it comes to shipping artwork, protecting the pieces is the priority. It’s the courier’s responsibility to ensure the pieces they transport are protected from breakage or theft until they reach their destination.

It’s a great way to help you spot a real professional:

  • Is the team trained in safety standards?
  • Is the haulage fleet suitable for transporting fragile items? Items that have to be kept at a constant temperature (i.e. refrigerated vehicles)?
  • Do the haulage fleet and storage areas have security systems?
  • Does the courier apply specific procedures?

As you can tell, the safety features in place to avoid any damage or theft are a reflection of the courier’s reliability that will help you choose the right one.

Handling artwork with care

On paper, every courier says they’re the best in the business but in reality, the teams don’t always have the expertise they need for the job. When it comes to handling artwork, there’s no room for error. Every stage of transport (packing, journey, installation) and every aspect of handling must be undertaken with the utmost care and attention to avoid breakage (frame, glass, object), scratches, marks etc.

That’s why before the handling teams get involved, you must make sure that the support teams have full information about the item to be shipped: measurements, weights, specific features, value etc. Usually, if you’re dealing with a specialist art courier, they will ask you for this information.

We should mention that when handling artwork, a good team will have all the equipment they need to handle and move the items: protective gloves, forklifts or cranes to install/remove pieces safely.

pack and transport artwork

Transporting artwork involves red tape

The last point to help you find an experienced art courier: handling administrative procedures. Transporting art involves specific formalities depending on value, destination (in the same country or abroad), time spent overseas, chosen transport method etc.

Standard red tape includes:

  • Customs for pieces entering and leaving the country
  • Handling insurance policies
  • Organising pick-up and delivery of the piece
  • Real-time shipment tracking
  • Etc.

That gives you an idea of all the red tape that you, as a private collector or auction house, would rather avoid. Countless art couriers take care of these procedures for you, proving their knowledge and expertise.

Moviiu, the art courier that adapts to suit you

At Moviiu, we bring you a bespoke shipment and packing service ranging from picking up and packing your pieces to transporting and installing them. We use our wealth of experience with the market leaders to help you with the admin side (customs and insurance policies) so you have a smooth, efficient and safe experience.


Photo de Luke Stackpoole ; Bahman Adlou ; Bahman Adlou