Shipping Slang: ARTA'S Fine Art Shipping Dictionary

Posted by Meredith Blechman on Apr 11, 2018 9:33:14 AM

What is a "bug stamp"? What about a "gantry"? What is the difference between "Full Risk" and "Limited" Insurance?

We've written up short, digestible definitions in layman's terms of phrases and terminology you might hear thrown around when it comes to shipping fine art and high-end goods. 



Customs Broker

A licensed individual who works with customs authorities to clear freight on behalf of the importer of record.

Covers any and all damage acquired in transit "from wall to wall." Policy must be purchased and costs are in addition to shipping charges.

Full Risk Insurance


Coverage only offered in cases of total loss, including theft, non-delivery or total damage.

Limited Insurance


Individual receiving the works and/or the purchasing party.

Recipient / Buyer / Importer of Record / Consignee


Individual who is listed as the seller/releasing party.

Shipper / consignor


Agent facilitating shipping services between parties (Also written “3 PL”).

third party



Air suspension system that absorbs shock and minimizes excessive bumps to avoid damage during transit.

Air Ride


A truck typically between 12 - 36 feet, often temperature controlled, air ride and includes a lift gate.

Box truck


When artworks are temporarily staged in a warehouse between truck transport.

Cross Docking


Shipments that originate in and deliver to locations with an elevated platform.  Does not include ground level doorways or garages.

Dock to Dock


Two drivers are present through the entire transport.

Dual Driver


Dedicated truck use for a single shipment.

Exclusive use


Climate controlled, air ride road transportation operated by two fine art technicians. Weekly, biweekly or monthly routine routes and consolidated cargo keep costs low but require flexible collection and delivery windows.

Fine art shuttle


Open cargo area with only a bed and no walls, used for transporting oversize artworks.

flatbed truck


Facilitates the shipment of crates between countries via air and sea, not including specialized art handling services.

Freight Forwarding


A modified tractor trailer that allows for higher internal height, reaching up to 120 inches.

High Cube


Hydraulic platform attached to the back of some trucks.  Often required when there is not a dock to receive or release.

Lift Gate


Warehouse to warehouse trucking, not including local services.

Line Haul Transport


A vehicle used for local collections and deliveries of small artworks, or locations that cannot be reached by larger trucks.

sprinter van


Maintains temperature in the cargo area, typically between 68 - 72 degree fahrenheit.

temperature control


Largest fine art shipping vehicle, with an average length of 53 feet.  Door heights range from 105 - 115”.  See High Cube.

tractor trailer



Wooden travel frame used to transport works at a lean if oversized.



Fitted foam sections into cardboard box or crate to fill empty space and support artwork.

cavity pack


Required seal that certifies that the wood used in the crate is heat treated and meets IPCC standards: debarked and heat treated.

IPPC Bug Stamp


Permanent hardware that screws into the back of an artwork to secure it in a travel frame or crate.



A plywood box substitute for a more substantial crate.

ply box


Inexpensive plastic covering, non-abrasive and non-stick for wrapping framed and acrylic works. Not suitable for long term storage.  Often referred to as “Poly”.



To protect delicate or wet surfaces, cardboard collar fits around the edges of an artwork creating space between the surface of the work and any other object.  Plastic or cardboard faces are used to further protect.

Shadow Box or Collar


Wooden crate without walls only internal framing.  Used for works with sensitive surfaces that cannot touch padding, or to save costs on wood for siding.

Slat Crate


Cardboard container used for shuttle transit of two dimensional works. Not suitable for freight shipments.



General term for packing artworks in materials including but not limited to; blankets, bubble, plastic, cardboard.

soft packing


Brand of heavy tube where two dimensional artworks are wrapped on the outside.



Open wooden container used to hang artworks with relief around the edges during transit.  T-frames can be packed into larger enclosed crate. T-frames can also have poly or coroplast walls.

Travel Frame (T-Frame)


Slat crate with tri-wall cardboard sheets used for siding.

tri-wall crate


Cylindrical packing for two dimensional artwork.  Pieces are rolled and placed inside.



High quality brand of plastic wrapping, see Polyeurethine.



handling and equipment

Formal review of an artwork at collection or delivery to inspect for damage, alterations and record the current status of the item.

Condition Check / Conditioning


Wheeled platform for moving crates.



Vehicle for lifting oversized crates, weighing roughly over 500lbs.



Frame with adjustable hook used for lifting and placing sculptural artworks of varying sizes but often used for oversize or heavy pieces or crates.



Brand of lifting equipment used for installation of heavy artworks in small locations.

genie lift


Wheeled metal cart with tall handles used to move crates.

Hand truck (US) / Sack barrow (UK)


Installation equipment including but not limited to: d-rings, cleats, oz-clips, wire and wall mounts.



Form of forklift used for the maneuvering of palletized items or crates, operated by hand.

pallet jack


warehousing and storage

Warehouses have designated climate-controlled areas that monitor temperature and humidity. Non-climate storage is available at a lower rate.

Climate Controlled vs. Non-Climate


Communal storage space at an economical rate.

open storage


White wall gallery space used for displaying, photographing and doing condition reports of artworks on site at a warehouse

viewing room


Administrative fee for warehouses to receive in and release artworks. Typically billed to an existing client account. Can be included in any ARTA estimate, per client request.

Warehouse Handling Fee (or Dock Fee)



Document with collection and delivery locations, signed by releasing and receiving parties for proof of transport.

Bill of Lading (BOL) (US) / Col / Del Note (UK)


Proof of insurance and worker’s compensation coverage for external companies to perform tasks on site. Typically required by large residential or commercial buildings.

Certificate of Insurance [COI]


Record of sale, including artwork details, purchasing party and price of an artwork. Pro-forma invoices are issued prior to the actual sale.

Commercial Invoice / Pro-forma Invoice


Document typically required for insurance to note any damage or status changes at collection or delivery.  Commonly includes images, diagrams and written notes.

condition report


Provides authorization for the customs broker to clear freight on behalf of the importer of record.  Form will be provided by the customs broker to the consignee for completion prior to entry into the designated delivery country.

Power of Attorney [POA]


Receipt for the contract of carriage.  Unique SWB/AWB numbers can be tracked online.

Seaway / Airway Bill [SWB / AWB]


importing and exporting 


When goods are imported and payment of duty or import VAT is deferred, so long as the work does leave the bonded premises under which it is stored. This is often used with items in long-term storage.



A contract used for guaranteeing that a specific obligation will be fulfilled between customs and an importer for any given import transaction. Usually used to guarantee the payment of import duties and taxes.

customs bond


Goods that have been produced in the European Union (EU), or that have been imported into an EU country with duty paid

free circulation


A fee collected by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to process merchandise entering into the U.S., paid at the time of entry summary.  

Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF)


When goods are temporarily imported into a country without payment of duties, by posting a bond to guarantee that they will be exported. 

temporary import (TI) / temporary admission (TA)

Topics: Industry

About ARTA

ARTA delivers innovative technology and fulfillment solutions for global white glove logistics. ARTA provides a proprietary API and platform that streamlines the shipping of high-value, oversized, and fragile goods requiring extra services from point of sale to delivery.

With a single solution, ARTA safely, easily and cost effectively ships high-touch items to more customers in more locations to drive sales, enable opportunities for new categories and expand the global footprint for businesses today. 

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