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In this article I will discuss how you can get your cards graded from within Europe. Unfortunately we do not have the same options available as people living in the United States, so we have to make with what we do have.
Grading cards is generally possible for any type of card, though be aware that some companies only grade specific types of cards. Some companies grade trading cards like Pokemon, Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Flesh and Blood and many more. Others grade sports and entertainment cards from companies like Topps, Panini and Upper Deck. These companies cover sports like football, baseball, basketball, hockey and Formula 1 on the sports side and for example Star Wars on the entertainment side.
There are several options available for grading cards from within Europe, I’ll discuss them each in their own section. They do have one thing in common though and that is that it is most often going to be more expensive compared to grading directly from within the United States and return times will be longer as well, though there are a few exceptions.
Submitting by yourself
It is possible to submit your cards directly to companies such as PSA, BGS and CGC. This may even be the cheapest option in theory, although you will most likely need to use a credit card to handle the payment. The caveat here however is that you will have to deal with customs yourself, and while the cards technically remain yours and they only get altered in the process, it is a lot harder to convince customs that you should not be charged based on the card values. I have personally never dared to use this option.
I have actually submitted by myself, but in that case the cards were sent directly to third-party storage, such as PWCC, and thus never left the United States and the cards never went through customs again. This is thus only an option if you want to sell the cards and not if you want to get them back.
Of course the customs issues do not apply to local services like Cardmarket Grading and in those cases I would actually recommend to submit by yourself as this eliminates as many elements of risk as possible.
Another option is to use group submissions, these are often offered in groups, for example Facebook Groups. The easiest method here is to use the grading company that is most used within your game or sport and only submit those cards. The people that handle the group submission will likely have clear rules on what cards they allow.
This method is not without issues though. You really need to be able to trust the person you are sending the cards to, and the extra shipments involved are always an extra risk. It is well worth it though when everything goes well.
Submissions via companies
The bigger grading companies are finally starting to realize that people from Europe want to grade their cards with them too. Business-wise it still is hard for them to justify opening an entire operation here, so most companies decided to partner with existing companies to offer official submission centers.
This method is in essence very similar to group submissions, however this time you are dealing with a reputable company that is officially endorsed to offer this service. This is generally perceived as less risky.
In the following subsections I will discuss which options are available for which grading companies. Companies located in the UK are excluded because custom issues can still arise since Brexit happened.
For fastest submission times it is important to use Card Saver I’s when submitting regular-sized cards, though the usage of top loaders is not forbidden.
BGS submissions can be done via Trace ‘n Chase, they are an official partner of Beckett, the company behind BGS grading. Visit their Beckett Grading page for further details. They’re located in Greece.
CGC submissions can be done via HiroGrading, they are an official partner of CGC and also grade with PSA and Beckett. They currently only seem to offer CGC Bulk Grading via this page. They’re located in Belgium.
Be aware that HiroGrading is strictly a grading company and they do not own a web shop, I would have personally preferred to deal with a web shop, but this seems to be the only option for CGC in Europe. The services are quite quite limited though with them only offering a Bulk Service and while most trading card games are allowed they do not seem to allow sports cards.
Premier Card Grading will soon open a direct facility in Germany.
PCA is a grading company based in France, they are not widely known, but they are an option if you are mostly looking to protect your cards. Just keep in mind that it is unlikely they will be able to beat the market value of cards graded with PSA, BGS and CGC.
GRAAD is a grading company based in Italy, they are similar to PCA in that they serve the European market.
AP Grading is also similar to PCA and GRAAD.
Hopefully this article has helped you in making a decision on how to get your cards graded from within Europe! If you want to maximize market value I would recommend PSA and BGS in most cases, though sometimes CGC and PCG make sense as well. The European companies are in my opinion more suited for protection rather than market value. And that is just as valid of a reason as going for market value, everyone should do what makes them happy!