Motorcycles offer a level of excitement that cars simply can't match.
The thrill of navigating across a web of city streets at night with cool breezes brushing softly against your body is an unparalleled experience. Whether it is your job, education, or holiday fun, that compelled you to move to another country, you might want to get your two-wheeler delivered to you so that the fun never ends.
But how do you ship a motorcycle overseas?
This is what we plan on walking you through in this guide, and hopefully, after going through this brief but helpful text, you won't have any trouble with the process.
Let's get started!
Okay, so you're back home with your motorcycle, wanting to get it shipped to wherever it is that you're headed to. Before you go on and look for a reliable automobile transport company, you'll have to take care of a couple of things yourself.
You can leave this part to the company's staff, but it is better that you handle this stage yourself, especially if you're on a limited budget:
Clean Your Motorcycle Thoroughly
First, start with the cleaning, and we're not talking about just removing the dust from your bike's casing. We're talking about a full and thorough cleaning.
- You'll have to start with the exterior, ensuring that the cover is spic and span.
- Then, ensure that there are no leaks because oil leaks will create a mess for your bike and ruin other motor vehicles being shipped alongside it.
- Plus, the wheel casings and the tire treads will have solidified soil deposits on them, firmly held onto the surface. You'll have to get these properly cleaned as well.
The cleaning part is important since it is a crucial import regulation for many countries.
Remove All Accessories
Riding your bike with multiple add-ons is all fun and cool in your own country, but when you plan on shipping your bike, it is better that you strip it off those accessories. This is because you don't want anything jutting out of the frame of your ride while transporting it, lest it gets damaged.
In essence, strip your bike down to its original form before shipping it.
Adjust the Fuel Tank Volume
Based on the type of shipping option you've considered for your bike (more on that later), you might want to keep some fuel in your tank but don't fill it up to the mouth. Instead, keep it around one-quarter of the full capacity, i.e., fill up ¼ of the tank.
Take Notes & Photos
No, we're not talking about selfies with your beloved bike. Those can wait. Right now, you need to do something much more serious:
- Notice any damage on your bike, i.e., scratches, dents, chips, etc.
- Note them down on a paper
- Take photos as proof
- Also, photograph every inch of your bike before you hand it over to the transport company
While most transport companies offer a safety guarantee (i.e., your bike will remain in pristine condition throughout the shipment process), you can never be too careful about this. It is best to have documented proof of your bike's condition before you ship it. This way, if it takes on any new damages, you'll know immediately.
Make Sure You Have The Necessary Documents
The exact documentation requirements vary from country to country, but there are some generalizations here. You will need the following documents to ship your motorcycle hassle-free:
- The original title of the motorcycle
- Your identification documents
- Vehicle registration documents
- Driver's license
- Bill of sale with detailed information about the specs of the motorcycle
- Insurance coverage documents
- Proof of residence (applicable in some cases)
- Power of attorney (applicable in some cases)
- Customs documents
- Conformity certificate for safe emission levels (a necessity for EU countries)
You may or may not need all of these documents, and there might be some additional requirements as well. To avoid any trouble, it is best to consult the customs department website of the country you plan to export to.
Understand Your Shipping Options
Next, you need to decide how you plan on shipping your motorcycle as there are several options, each with its applications and limitations:
Open-Air Shipment: This is also called roll-on, roll-off shipment and is exactly as it sounds – the motorcycle will be driven onboard the vessel (1/4th of the fuel tank must be filled), secured to the deck, transported, and then driven off-board upon arrival. This is the cheapest of all available options and is reliable too. The only limitation is that other options offer better safety options.
Palletized Motorcycle Shipping: In this method, the bike is shipped while safely enclosed inside a crate and put on a pallet (thus the name). It is a more secure mode of transport than the last option and is fairly affordable too, but of course, it costs more than roll-on, roll-off shipment.
Container Shipping: This is the most secure and reliable method of shipping any vehicle and costs its fair share. As the name suggests, container shipping involves a motorcycle being shipped inside a sealed container and thus secured from any transport damage. Upon arrival, the container is offloaded and unpacked.
Apart from the type of shipment method, you can also choose between having your motorcycle shipped from door to door or from port to port. The latter is cheaper but if you don't have budget constraints, go for the former one. It will save you lots of hassle.
After Arrival Of The Shipment
Once your shipment arrives at the destination port, there will be some processing before legally driving your bike in the country. This post-shipment process is not the same internationally, but we have pointed out some general practices you need to know about:
At this stage, you'll have to offer specific documentation to the customs department as per their demand (we have mentioned a generic list earlier), and be sure about a couple of things here:
- You possess all the necessary documents
- All the documents are up to date
- There are no errors or omissions in your documents
Failing to ensure so will cause unnecessary delays and increase the cost of importing your motorcycle.
This may not be applicable in all cases, but several countries have rules dictating mandatory inspection of all imported vehicles by the concerned departments to ensure road and environmental safety.
To ensure that you don't run into trouble here, make sure that:
- Your motorcycle has been thoroughly cleaned
- There are no fluid leakages
- The exhaust levels comply with the standard emission requirements
- Other import regulations are met even if they involve modifying the vehicle for conformity
Following this, your motorcycle will be released by the customs, and you'll be given an invoice of payment for the value-added tax (VAT) and customs duties. After this, you can apply for registration if you plan on staying in the said country for some time and then drive your motorcycle on the roads without any worries.
Now that the rest has been covered let's take a look at one crucial aspect of this whole process: money, and more specifically, how you can minimize the costs of shipping your motorcycle overseas.
So here's what you can do if you're on a limited budget:
- Handle all the pre-shipping preparations on your own
- Ensure that the documents are completely accurate and up to date to avoid trouble at the customs
- Ensure complete compliance with import regulations
- Choose roll-on, roll-off shipment option since it is the cheapest
- Opt for port-to-port delivery for a budget-friendly operation
- Try to find requirements for demanding tax exemption in the said country and see if you can get one yourself
Of course, if money constraints don't bother you, sit back and relax while your logistics service provider handles everything.