International Loans Out

David Packer, Museum Registrar at The Fitzwilliam Museum provides some useful pointers as well as guiding us through the process of lending objects internationally.

  • When approached by prospective international borrowers, outline a clear process and timetable for securing loans.
  • Ask the borrower to complete the URKG or AAM facilities reports, irrespective of whether they have provided their own report in a different format. This will ensure you have all the information that you need.
  • On receipt of a formal loan request, alert the relevant parts of your organisation as soon as possible, to set the consideration of the loan in motion.
  • If the loan is agreed, the borrower should put measures in place through their nominated transport agent for the customs formalities to be completed. However, as lender, you will need to provide, in good time, information on materials, whether the object falls under CITES regulations, and the provenance for export licences, if required. Also, you should be clear about special handling or packing requirements and specifications, for example, transporting unfixed pastels.
  • Be aware that your object might require an export license, depending on where it is travelling to, how old it is, and the type of object it is, e.g. archaeological material. The transport agent should flag this up and assist with paperwork.
  • Decide as an institution whether you wish to have immunity in all eligible territories. If so, be open about the release of images and provenance information, and assist the borrower in meeting their application deadlines. If you have doubts about the provenance of an object, or reason to believe that it has dubious episodes in its past, then ask yourself whether you should be lending it.
  • Some state indemnity and immunity schemes have very long lead times, so be aware that some information, such as values and provenance, will need to be sent early in the loan process. If there is no state indemnity scheme in place, the borrower will normally take out a local policy; however, they should send the policy terms to you in advance for approval, particularly the exclusion clauses. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification of the interpretation of some clauses, e.g. ‘wrongful act’ or ‘theft by staff’. If you are still unclear, inform the borrower that you will seek advice from a fine art insurer and that you will expect them to pay the premium, OR nominate two or three acceptable providers to them.
  • Contact the borrower promptly when you need further information on facilities or transport. Similarly, if your object needs specialist equipment to move and install it, communicate this to the borrower as soon as you can. Remember, equipment and materials have different names in different countries.
  • If there are preparation costs, communicate these and what they are for to the borrower as soon as possible. Similarly, if you intend to send a courier, let the borrower know the level of accommodation and subsistence costs expected. You can specify that the hotel is close to the venue, at least 3 or 4 star, and has en-suite facilities, to ensure that your courier has a reasonable standard of accommodation. You can also specify a minimum per diem, using the FCO worldwide subsistence guidelines to provide a benchmark rate for employee travel costs.

  • If you do send a courier, try to name them as soon as you can and identify the likely period of travel and installation. Brief them thoroughly on the trip and enable them to physically see the objects before or during packing.
  • You might be able to re-charge your courier’s visa fees or the ESTA cost for visa-waived entry to the US. The courier will probably have to make the arrangements to obtain visas – and any vaccinations required – themselves, so make sure the courier knows this. And also make sure their passport is not about to expire!