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Antiques and customs

After spending the last hour trying to fully understand the "language of customs", I thought I would post here. I want to purchase antique oil paintings during my upcoming trip to Scotland and bring them back (approx $800 worth). I believe as long as they are 100 years old and for personal use (not resale), I won't have to pay a duty coming into the US. I am not sure how you would prove an oil painting to be 100 years old - any thoughts on that? And on the Scotland side, I believe I can take $1000 worth of items out of the country. Has anyone had experience in bringing antiques back to the US?

On that note, while I hear many say whisky is more expensive in Scotland, I always find whisky for significantly less at their supermarkets (Tesco often has super sales) so I pick up 2 bottles to bring home each time. I just read that the US allows 1 bottle duty free. However, after 4 trips back with 2 bottes each and always declared, I have never been charged. Was this a recent change? Not a big deal but curious.

Thank you!

Posted by
2551 posts

what's your source for the value of goods you can take out of Scotland as no official UK website would quote a value in dollars

the budget supermarkets Aldi and Lidl get good reviews for their whisky - single aged malts

Posted by
1657 posts

A reputable dealer should be able to get you through the laws involved, and a guide to what needs an export licence is here. And you may still need to declare at customs, but antiques are not really the world most of us move in!

As for the whisky, most supermarkets offer reasonable offerings and reasonable prices, multiple deals however BOGOFs, three for £x do not exist here for alcohol. US customs queries would need to be dealt with by the US posters.

Posted by
8889 posts

There is no limit to what you can take out of the EU (and it is EU customs rules which apply, as Scotland is part of the UK and the UK is in the EU). If you take over €10,000 (or equivalent) in cash you must declare it, but they won't stop you.

As to what you can take into the US, and how much US customs will charge you, I cannot comment.

Posted by
1657 posts

Chris F, what you say is true, but there are restrictions on cultural items. These need a licence which kicks in on different values. The EU on behalf of the member states sets the rate it applies at, the member states set what they decide as cultural for it.

Posted by
2393 posts

The dealer you purchase from should be able to provide proper paperwork for any art pieces. If not, I'd purchase elsewhere as it's likely not what they say it is.

Posted by
8586 posts

Re: the two bottles of liquor. The actual duty-free allowance is one LITER, not one bottle, and it has not changed. It is just often they let you go through without paying duty because its not worth the time and effort for them.

I don't see any special US Customs exemption for items that are antiques for personal use. Where do you see that?

Posted by
8293 posts

Why would the Scottish authorities prevent you from taking more than $1000 worth of merchandise out of the country? They encourage you to spend as much as possible on " stuff", as any country does, including my own. And why not?. It's getting the purchases into your home country that presents a problem.

Posted by
8889 posts

Norma, first, there is no such thing as "the Scottish authorities" in this case. Scotland is part of the UK and export and import remains under the control of the national (UK) government and the EU customs union.
Second, as MC-Glasgow corrected me on. If these are cultural items then restrictions can be imposed.
Third, as "ramblin' on" says, they don't use any currency called '$' in the UK, any legal restriction would be defined in '£' or '€'.

Posted by
8293 posts

Chris, I was in error on all three points as you say. In a pathetic attempt at defence , the $1000 gaffe was a quote from the OP. Signed "humbled".

Posted by
27351 posts

I believe all original art, of any age, can be brought into the US duty-free. Info is here. So for the paintings, you needn't worry about or attempt to prove age.

There definitely used to be a 100-year rule for antiques, but I've had no reason to verify that recently. Assuming that rule still exists, it might be helpful to have the dealer's statement on the receipt as to the age of the item. The customs officers, of course, can always question the age of an article.

Posted by
94 posts

As Washington State residents, the whiskey was less expensive in Scotland than what is sold here. We brought in 7 bottles last fall, most bought in Tesco, with a couple of exceptional bottles at distilleries not sold in the U.S. Husband honestly claimed them all. We were waived on through customs. In CA, AZ and NV, where they don't charge a liquor tax, we found great whiskies at wonderful prices on promotional sale at Costco. Oban was $50/bottle. Laphroig was $30/bottle. We stocked up.