From 1 January 2021, the effective rate of UK import value added tax (‘VAT’) on imports of art from Italy will usually be 5%. There is generally no customs duty charged on imports of mainstream categories of art to the UK (eg original oil paintings or original pencil drawings) under the UK’s new customs law.
A special one-year time limit to the UK returned good relief scheme applies to works of art which are currently in Italy but that were located in the UK at some point before 31 December 2020 when the Great Britain was still part of the EU Single Market. As a result, such works of art may be returned to the UK free of tax under the returned goods relief rules until 31 December 2021, provided that the general eligibility criteria are met. These specific rules apply only to Great Britain, as opposed to the UK as a whole, although art which enters Northern Ireland from Italy should still be treated as attracting Single Market treatment after 31 December 2020 and so specific import relief is unnecessary in that context.