Importing museum and gallery exhibits

By Tolley

The following Value Added Tax guidance note by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Importing museum and gallery exhibits
  • Conditions
  • Claiming relief
  • Appeals

This guidance note provides an overview of when museum and gallery exhibits can be imported without the requirement to pay customs duty and import VAT.

Council Regulation 918/83, Art 51 ; EC Council Directive 83/181/EEC 3, Art 79 ; Notice 361 ; Value Added Tax (Imported Goods) Relief Order 1984, SI 1984/746, Sch 2 Group 9

The following conditions need to be satisfied before an approved establishment can import exhibits without paying any customs duty and / or import VAT:

  • the National Imports Relief Unit (NIRU) has approved the establishment
  • the exhibits are cultural / educational / scientific in nature
  • the exhibits are not for sale
  • the exhibits are transported directly to the establishment at the time of importation
  • the goods are used solely for the exhibit and kept under the control of the establishment importing the goods
  • a record of all of the exhibits is maintained

Certain items are subject to strict import controls and the approved establishment must ensure that they satisfy any requirements when they import exhibits into the UK.

It should be noted that certain goods will be subject to prohibitions and restrictions and these must be adhered to.

VAT relief

If the approved establishment is intending to claim relief from import VAT then one the following additional conditions need to be satisfied:

    More on Cultural services: