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  Bringing space hardware through US customs

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Author Topic:   Bringing space hardware through US customs
Matt T

Posts: 1359
From: Chester, Cheshire, UK
Registered: May 2001

posted 05-04-2019 05:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm looking to place some spacesuit items in one of the forthcoming "big ticket" Apollo 11 auctions and have reached the point of needing to decide on the best way to ship them from the UK to the US.

Sending via courier with sufficient insurance is currently looking to cost up to almost double the price of passenger airfare to the States; consequently I'm pondering on simply bringing the items over myself.

The big issue of course is customs - turning up from the UK with two suitcases of antique pressure suits, gloves etc for the purpose of placing them in an auction is likely something that I would need to declare on entry (I presume?).

So I'm wondering if any other collectors have experience of taking space hardware through US Customs or if anyone can point me at a website or expert who could educate me on the matter.

Rick Mulheirn

Posts: 4041
From: England
Registered: Feb 2001

posted 05-04-2019 07:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If it helps Matt a friend of mine just brought a pair of Orlan EVA gloves from the US and back again in his luggage and had no issues.


Posts: 1165
From: Shepperton, United Kingdom
Registered: Mar 2012

posted 05-04-2019 08:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for rgarner   Click Here to Email rgarner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As a Brit who consigns big ticket artifacts to US auctions every now and again I can tell you that they require proof of import into the US so that the artifact(s) can be legally sold. This is in part due to the fact that if the lot goes unsold it needs to be returned to the origin country and the correct paperwork needs to accompany it. This is true whether you decide to ship them or bring them in yourself so either way they need to be declared.

So if you were to carry the artifact(s) yourself and not declare the item at customs, A. you won't be able to sell them at auction for the reasons mentioned above, and B. you're also looking at some possible legal consequences.

It doesn't take much to be refused entry into the US and send you on a flight home. They can also ban you from entering the country again for X years if they think your reasons for entry are untoward (not declaring two big suspicious suitcases full of spacesuit hardware would most likely fall under that category).

But with that said I would also speak to the auction you're considering consigning too - they will probably have more information and may be able to accommodate your situation.

I hope this helps. Also feel free to reach out if you need any more help.


Posts: 47
Registered: Jan 2016

posted 05-04-2019 10:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Altidude   Click Here to Email Altidude     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I routinely deal with both Christie's and Sotheby's auctions. They both have offices in London and both have shipping departments. I would deal with them first and get them to work out the logistics in getting the assigned lots to the auction.

Everything is negotiable and I would try to have them work out a deal with you concerning the consignment costs vs the shipping. Also, they do this routinely and will take care of the paperwork.


Posts: 617
From: Dublin, Ireland
Registered: Mar 2011

posted 05-04-2019 02:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Heritage Auctions UK Office

All times are CT (US)

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