How to import French antiques in 2020 by container, sea freight, air freight or express


Importing French antiques is one of the most exciting and rewarding ways to source beautiful furniture. This guide shows how to reliably import furniture and prevent common mistakes of shipping internationally to the USA or other worldwide destinations from France and specifically L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. 

Please contact us for a detailed transport quote, tailored to your schedule or budget requirements. 

How to import French antiques by sea ocean freight

1. Use only one service provider to source and ship your antiques

This ensures that a single company is responsible for everything promised to you – the quality of the furniture, the condition in which it arrives, the time frame and the total cost.

Dealing separately with antique merchants and shipping companies is risky - buyers can be left unsatisfied with the quality of furniture or additional costs where no party takes responsibility.

Chez Pluie offers a total end-to-end sourcing and shipping service. We are based in Provence and deliver goods from L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue weekly.

How to import French antiques by air freight

2. Pay attention to your delivery address

This may sound obvious, but most international shipping companies only deliver to the nearest sea port or depot. Pay close attention to any quotes provided to ensure the delivery address is what you expect it to be.

Using a second local transporter to complete the delivery is not recommended as it will be extremely difficult to hold either company responsible for providing the promised service.

Chez Pluie delivers worldwide to the final destination of your choice.

How to import French antiques by container

3. Understand packaging

Packaging is the single most important factor of furniture arriving safely. The lowest cost shipping providers typically use minimal packaging (such as cling film on fragile objects), which is also the most common factor for breakages in transport. Unlike manufactured goods, antiques are irreplaceable, so quality packaging is essential.

Chez Pluie professionally packages each item using materials such as import quality timber (NIMP15), international grade cartons and a range of polystyrene and paper-based cushioning.

Packaging French antiques for international shipping

Packaging French antiques for international shipping

4. Select a service according to your timeline and budget.

Set clear timelines with shippers and select an appropriate service. The most common services are (in order of speed and cost):

  1. Air express
  2. Air freight
  3. Sea/ocean freight - less than a container (LCL), or groupage*
  4. Sea/ocean freight - a full container (FCL)

*Groupage/LCL for antiques is the most misunderstood service type and this can have a major impact on timing. Here are two examples of how this term is used:

  • Some antique freight forwarders operate by filling their containers with smaller consignments exclusively from their customers. Depending on the destination, it may take months to fill a container and many customers are left waiting with no firm timeframes given.
  • A smaller consignment booked to be shipped within a shared container that is scheduled to depart on a certain date.

Be sure to understand exactly what type of shipping service is quoted.

5. Decide who pays import duties

International customs processing is far more automated today than in the past, so you should expect export/import clearance to be a standard service. Nonetheless, it is important to decide upfront who covers the import taxes and duties.

  1. Shipper pays - the shipper can provide an all up quote including all duties and import taxes. For buyers, this is a slightly higher overall cost, but also offers peace-of-mind of knowing all costs upfront.
  2. Recipient pays - duties are paid directly to the destination government when the furniture arrives in the country. If the recipient is a business, it is often possible to receive tax credits depending on the import country. 

6. Understand insurance

If antiques are well packaged and sent with a reliable shipper, then damaged items are a rare occurrence. Nonetheless, here are three points to check with any shipping insurance offer:

  1. How much are the goods insured for? i.e. the buy price, or including shipping, or including shipping & taxes.
  2. How quickly must a breakage be reported?
  3. If an object can be repaired, how does this work?

The Chez Pluie shipping and damages policy can be found here.

Have fun

Remember that buying antiques from France is a delightful, exciting and memorable experience. By choosing an excellent service provider, the shipping will also be easy and reliable.  

Please contact us for a detailed transport quote, tailored to your schedule or budget requirements. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key considerations when transporting antiques from L'isle-sur-la-Sorgue, France?
When selecting an antiques transporter, use one provider for the entire transport, ask how your individual antiques will be packaged, understand the actual delivery address (Some providers only deliver to your nearest port), and select a service that suits your schedule and budget.
How do I understand all transport costs upfront, including import duties?
Ask the transporter to provide a list of all excluded shipping costs. If import duties are excluded, ask the transporter for an estimate. A competent transporter should have no problem with either including duties in their quote or providing an estimate of the likely charges. 
Do I need an importers licence to import antiques? 
No. Ensure you select a shipping company that can act as your import agent. There should be no additional cost for this. You may be required to complete some forms for import authorities, but you will not need your own importing licence. 
How do I ensure my antiques arrive safely without damage?
Packaging is the single most important factor of furniture arriving safely. The lowest cost shipping providers typically use minimal packaging (such as cling film on fragile objects), which is also the most common factor for breakages in transport. Unlike manufactured goods, antiques are irreplaceable, so quality packaging is essential.
Image credit: Volo logistics, Gograph, Bansarchina, Packaging photos - Chez Pluie

Leave a comment


Please note, comments must be approved before they are published