Military Shipping a Motorcycle to Hawaii
Did you just receive news that you are permanently changing your station (PCS) to Hawaii? In most cases, PCSing can be a life changing event as you are forced to pack up and move somewhere.
But lets look at this on the bright side.
Your moving to Hawaii! PCSing isn’t easy, but palm trees and nice weather should make the transition a little easier.
Still, you have one major question… “Is military shipping a motorcycle to Hawaii possible?”
The answer is yes.
The military will help you ship your motorcycle, as they will help you ship any personal items that you have. However, depending on how much you are shipping, there may be a limit to how many personal items the military will ship for you.
Motorcycles tend to fall under the household goods category, while larger vehicles will have to be shipped using a third party.
The military is fairly accommodating when they ask their personnel to PCS. If for whatever reason they cannot ship your vehicle, you can easily ship it with a private shipping company. You also may be able to ship with a private company and get your bill comped by the military.
Before you agree to anything, take the time to contact your commanding officer, or whoever is responsible for helping you, to see what they can ship and what they will cover.
If you are being transferred to Hawaii, do not fret, shipping your motorcycle is perfectly acceptable and more than doable.
Here is how you can prepare your motorcycle for military shipment to Hawaii. Keep in mind, the recommendations in this guide are general and your individual situation may be different. We recommend that you use this general process and modify it to your needs based on the shipping offers you get from different shipping companies.
Drain the Gas
Obviously, you do not want to ship your motorcycle with a full tank of gas. Gas is expensive and gas is also very flammable. The last thing you want is for your motorcycle to explode during transit and cause a major fire. Depending on the company, you may need to drain the entire gas tank, or keep the gas tank below a certain level.
The shipping company will tell you what that point is. Follow their instructions very carefully, as a shipping company can refuse to ship your vehicle if you do not.
And even worse…
You may be liable for any damage that is caused as a result of you trying to skirt the rules by leaving your tank full.
Don’t take a chance, gas is easy to find in Hawaii and you don’t want to risk your bike getting denied come shipping day.
Remove Personal Items from the Motorcycle
While a shipping company will take custody of your motorcycle while shipping it to Hawaii, they will not be responsible for any personal items that you ship with the motorcycle.
This tip is more for motorcycle owners who have pannier bags or storage areas on their motorcycles. Some shipping companies will not even accept your motorcycle for transport unless all your personal items are taken out or off of it.
Why risk losing personal items during shipment? Keep them safe by packing them in your suitcase.
Make Sure Your Motorcycle is Functional
Your motorcycle needs to work if it going to be shipped anywhere. A proxy staff member from the shipping company needs to be able to drive your motorcycle on and off the ship, or plane used to transport your motorcycle.
Many shipping companies require that the motorcycles they transport work. Before shipping your motorcycle, make sure that the motorcycle’s fluids are not leaking, and that the motorcycle is functional.
Take it for a spin before you relocate to make sure that everything is running. And if things seem a bit off, a trip to the mechanic may be in order.
Prepare in Advance to Receive Your Motorcycle
Depending on the shipping company’s schedule, and when you are planning to ship your motorcycle, it may take as much as a week to ship your motorcycle from the mainland to Hawaii.
When your bike arrives, someone needs to receive it. One of the easiest ways to make sure things go smoothly is to give permission to the shipping company to unload and receive it. If not, you will either have to receive your motorcycle, or find a friend or family member who will.
Make Sure You Own 100% of the Motorcycle
There are many reasons why someone might not own 100% of their motorcycle.
- You may have leased it
- You may have a co-signer for it
- The bank may have given you a loan.
There are many reasons. However, if you do not own 100% of your motorcycle, US Customs will not let you export it.
Why is that exactly?
The answer is simple. By virtue of allowing someone to export an item they own less than 100% of, they would be depriving someone else of their property.
But there are easy ways to get around this. If you are repaying a loan on your motorcycle, just ask the bank for permission. A simple piece of paperwork with a few signatures will give you the clearance you need to ship your motorcycle.
Understand that US Customs Will Inspect Your Motorcycle
Regardless of whether you ship your motorcycle yourself, or you use a shipping company, US Customs will inspect your vehicle. In most cases, this means inspecting the documentation you will need to provide the shipping company with, like the original title, bill of sales, power of attorney form, etc.
US Customs will also check special restricted party lists to make sure you aren’t doing business with any denied parties. While this may seem invasive, these laws are in place to keep trade legal.
Most importantly remember this…
If you are unfamiliar with these types of processes, it is highly recommended that you seek the help of an experienced shipping company.
A simple mistake like filling out the wrong form, misclassifying your shipment, or doing business with someone on a denied party list can lead to massive fines, and in extreme cases, jail time.
Don’t take a chance. The shipping process is complex and you can save yourself a big headache by shipping your motorcycle with a shipping company.
Things You Want to Avoid to Have an Easier Time Shipping Your Motorcycle
First, do not assume that your motorcycle will be shipped. Even though many military guys have successfully had their motorcycles shipped, procedures change and you could be denied. If anything, assume that it will not.
This is not to say that you should be pessimistic. Instead, consider some common scenarios why your motorcycle might be denied entry into Hawaii. Next, make an attempt to ensure that they no longer apply to you and your motorcycle. Returning to the example of US Customs, if you co-signed on the motorcycle in order to purchase it, make sure that you own it 100%.
Second, start the process well in advance of the time that you want to have your motorcycle shipped. Relocating is stressful and so much will be happening in a short amount of time that you should prepare months in advance.
We recommend that you prepare all of your shipping documentation months in advance. This will help you get the best price and ensure that everything goes according to plan.
This is especially important for military shipping. If you have not noticed it by now, the military is incredibly bureaucratic. Bureaucracy simply means that anything you do involving the military and paperwork will take more time than you originally envisioned.
Never underestimate the bureaucracy of the American government. Seriously!
Your Next Steps
We don’t want you to panic. Your motorcycle shipping experience will be a positive one because motorcycles are fairly easy to ship. The tips we provided are designed to make the motorcycle shipping process even easier.
Find the Right Shipping Company
If you’ve got all the approval you need, the last step is to look for reputable shipping companies.
We recommend you start contacting motorcycle shipping companies and get quotes from them.
But don’t stop there…
Shop those quotes around, find companies that have great prices and service. And more importantly, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Compare the processes that each company uses and determine which one you feel is the best fit for your motorcycle.
You can also compare these processes against the process in this article. Doing so will help you find the best motorcycle shipping company for you and your motorcycle.
Or you can do this instead…
If you want to find the easiest way to ship your motorcycle, just call A-1 Auto Transport. We’ve been helping Americans ship their vehicles all over the world for many years. We offer competitive prices, great service, and peace of mind.
Call us today for a free quote. But don’t forget to shop our quote around. We are confident that you will want to work with us because our prices are that good.
Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.