Home Magazine How Brexit might impact the art market: some forecasts

The choice of United Kingdom to leave the European Union occurred in June 2016 and it has caused a still ongoing debate about its effects on the English and international art market. Despite the imminent due date, it is still tough to forecast what will happen precisely: much will depend on the final result of the negotiations, which will shape the new rules and guidelines for the art system.

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In 2019, after two years of considerable development, the UK’s share on the global market fell in terms of value by 20% of the world total (The Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report 2020). However, in the meantime, the only thing that can be done is a speculation on the future prospects and challenges that the post-Brexit scenario may pose, particularly on how imports and exports might work after it.


The EU Parliament’s venue, Brussels. Courtesy of Pinterest.


Imports in the UK 

After the actual implementation of Brexit, UK will not be a member of European Union anymore, consequently, a non-EU export licence will be mandatory.

Besides this, imports of artworks into the United Kingdom might also be affected by new tax policies. Today, VAT on imports from other States amounts to 5%, particularly advantageous if you consider that in Italy it stands for 10% of the value of the work. This taxation has undoubtedly advantaged the British market to become the key point for the European square in the art sector.

As a result of Brexit, UK would no longer be obliged by EU tax directives and it will be able to opt to reduce or even cancel the excise on imported works, contesting with its main rivals, USA (no VAT) and China (3%). 

Exports from the UK 

At the end of the transition period, in addiction to the current export licence (regulated by Arts Council England), an extra documentation will be required under each Member State’s import regulations. In general, for intra-EU exportations, Open General Export Licence (OGEL) is issued for paintings over 50 years of age and worth less than £180,000; beyond this limit, an Individual Export Licence is necessary. However, it is interesting to notice that UK export regulations are considerably flexible respect ours, since they are founded on “permitted unless prohibited” standard.

Resale right 

In UK, this is a royalty due to the artist (and his/her successors) on any selling after the first selling of one of his artworks, until the 70thyear after his/her death. It is still not clear if, once Brexit will be effective, this percentage will continue to be guaranteed.

The effect of Brexit will be largely determined by the prospects that the British legislation will be able to set to keep its country an attractive market for art traders and consumers, taking the correct benefits after the abandonment of the common EU standards.


Stay tuned on Kooness magazine to be update on this subject.


View on the Big Ben and British Parliament. Courtesy of Pinterest.


Cover image: British protests about Brexit. Courtesy of The Art Newspaper

Written by Elena Parcianello

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