Author Topic: Importing old motorcycles to Australia  (Read 18632 times)

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Offline Ian

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Importing old motorcycles to Australia
« on: 31 Aug 2006 at 06:21 »
Folks, I am sure you have all done this before !! What is involved in shipping an old motorcycle from the UK to Australia. I am contemplating the idea of purchasing from a dealer there. What costs are there other than the quoted crating/shipping costs ?

Offline gsx1100s

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Re: Importing old motorcycles to Australia
« Reply #1 on: 01 Sep 2006 at 02:06 »
If you look above this post the google ads seem to want to help  :wink: What a very clever system?

Cheers Michael

PS - Hope these help...
« Last Edit: 01 Sep 2006 at 11:55 by alwyn »
"My first car was a motorcycle"

Offline graeme

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Re: Importing old motorcycles to Australia
« Reply #2 on: 01 Sep 2006 at 04:51 »
There are a lot of potential costs and pitfalls Ian - I know, because I learnt the hard way! Get it crated in something that is not fresh timber (quarantine issues); make sure the bike has been steam cleaned (particularly the tyres), with the paperwork to prove it; try to organise so that you can uncrate the machine yourself and sort through the customs procedures without having to pay an agent. It can be a real hassle. And my advice is don't use Patricks! Judging by the recent experience of a VMMC member importing a machine from Norway, there were all sorts of hassles.

Cheers, Graeme
« Last Edit: 01 Sep 2006 at 10:26 by alwyn »


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Re: Importing old motorcycles to Australia
« Reply #3 on: 06 Sep 2006 at 01:14 »

Hi Ian

i have just sent an AJS to America.
I had a trouble free transaction from this end and the chap who got it had the same ease his end except for the paper work. this is what i had to do

Purchase a metal HONDA crate for $50 AU ( metal crates dont need treating and cost $200 less!!)
pack the bike and get it inspected by a dealer to confirm contents
insurance was $250 AU and the paperwork was done over the phone and email. ( lots of paperwork)
freight. had to be pre booked before delivering the crate to the ship yard.
more paperwork emails etc.
freight cost via sea was $389 from adelaide SA to los angeles

The reciever had to have comfirmed sales reciepts, insurance cover notes etc etc so i had sent copies of every piece of paperwork i had.

they filled in declaration forms from customs and the charged him a $75US fee for their work and he took the bike home.

very length in paperwork but it was all worth it.

hope it helps


Offline Doug

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Re: Importing old motorcycles to Australia
« Reply #4 on: 24 Oct 2006 at 00:51 »
Sorry this reply is a little tardy. No doubt you have already imported you motorcycle by now, but for what it is worth to others that might do the same, the following are my observations from shipping the remains of an 1930 S6 Douglas and a 1930 Douglas sidecar chassis from the UK to the USA the winter of 2005.

Not ever having done this before, I started out from square one by searching the internet for international freight companies. The first thing I learned is that globally they go under the name ‘freight consolidators’ or ‘freight forwarding’. These are the folk that arrange LCL, or Less than Container Loads. They locate a container going your way, and get your shipment included in it.  In my case I was looking in addition for door to door service from the UK to the USA. Many of the bigger firms offer freight logistics, inventory stocking, and warehousing services too, which apparently is lucrative for them. In fact most of their websites are devoted to theses high end services, and it may first appear they do not even cater to smaller shipments.  Smaller firms offer pickup, packaging, and house clearing (moving) services.

I came up with thirty-four possible firms that I listed on a spreadsheet, and started whittling down from there. About one third have online systems for requesting a basic quote. All will have contact info somewhere on their website. Websites range from very elaborate to very primitive. Look first to see what countries they serve. Prepare a form query with all your details of the shipment, and send it to all that look promising. Probably about one quarter will reply if you are lucky. In my case, I got quotation all over the scale, from a low of US$800 to a high of US$1200 for a crate slightly smaller than a motorcycle (338kg, 0.77m^3.) So it pays to get a lot of quotes as there seems to be no set price. This was for sea freight, with motor freight pick up and delivery at bothe ends. One or two listed sea freight service but for UK/USA only offered an airfreight service. I did not find sea freight a disadvantage in time, as once the container starts moving, it moves quickly. It was loaded on a ship in Felixstowe, UK, and six days later it was sitting on a dock in New York harbor. However it can spend a lot of time sitting around before and after, and airfreight will not make a difference there.

Sea freight is mainly concerned with volume, and they charge in one cubic meter increments. They are not overly concerned about the weight, just how much they can stuff into a standard 40’ container. But it does get trucked to and from the ship, so there they do charge based on weight. Airfreight is all about volume and weight! So they will want the overall dimensions of the crate, and an estimate of the weight.

You will probably find yourself dealing with a medium size firm. Very small firms will not have the connections and arrangements to get the competitive prices, larger firms will not be interested in your small shipment. You will find they are likely just brokers, and that everything is subcontracted out through other firms. For the most part, they arrange all the details and paperwork. If you want to save some money, you can collect it at the docks yourself, and the freight forwarder will just clear it through Customs. For the sake of one crate, I did not want to take a day off and drive ninety miles to New York to the docks and try to figure my way though the politics and red tape of the unionized dockworkers and terminal bureaucrats. So my freight forwarder arranged with trucking firms both sides of the pond to arrange the pickup and delivery. They go to the docks every day and know the in and outs, and whose palm to grease. For me, it was not worth the $125 savings to do it myself; that kind of self-education often ends up costing even more money!  You still end up paying the customs duty yourself, payable directly to Customs but via the Freight Forwarder.  It is never part of the quote as they never know precisely how much duty, if any, will be imposed.  In my case it was classified as used automotive parts, one of the lowest duty rates, and they passed it through duty-free.

Whether it is duty free or not, there will be a $25 inspection fee, when they x-ray the crate on arrival. I think this is to microwave the immigrants. Since this is a predictable charge based on the size of you consignment, the Freight Forwarder should have this included in the quote break-down.

The mention of treated wood in the previous reply is important. I got blindsided by this as it was just being implemented. Fortunately I was purchasing a new crate, which was already made in anticipation to the new infestation-free standard. There will be an icon stenciled on the crate looking like an asymmetrical tree if it is made to this standard. Be careful what additional wood you add for blocking. It should look new so as to not trigger any alarm bells should the crate be opened for inspection. Do not use a piece of rotten old wood you found laying about! Otherwise you will be hit with a mandatory and very expensive fumigation bill. The infestation regulations should be available on your country’s Custom website; it basically pertains to wood and wood fiber products. Ditto information about duty rates on various types of items mentioned two paragraphs above. A generic picture of the symbol appears here:

For a bill of lading I just made a simple numbered list of the major items, with their approximate weight and value. I made sure the total weight, with the crate, agreed with the total shipping weight. As for value, well they pretty much are going to accept your valuation and assess duty on that. So you do not want to over-value it. On the other hand if you make it suspiciously low, they just might have their ‘expert’ value it, and charge you for the service as well. Also if the container gets swept overboard in a storm, your insurance payout is going to be based on the customs declared value. You can not have it both ways. Such loss is rare, but it does happen. I plastered large self-adhesive labels on the major items and marked them with the corresponding bill of lading numbers. I tried to arrange these so they could be seen from the end of the crate that opened. But the crate ended up being packed so tight with parts and padding, only a few could be seen. As it was, I doubt very much they even opened the lid of the crate to look in. The contents certainly had not been disturbed or looked through.

All but the largest staffed firms will sub-contract with a Customs Broker to clear your shipment. This you need to keep a close eye on. You typically have five days grace of free storage at the Bonded Warehouse while clearing through Customs. Then they start charging you, perhaps $50 a day, for a motorcycle size crate. If Customs is busy and it takes them seven days to get to your crate, too bad. If you want to dicker about it, they just continue to charge you storage; there is no negotiation with the Bonding Company. Sort of like when your car is towed by the municipality, you do not get it back till you pay and until you do the clock is running. The meter continues to run while you send payment, so you have to send the check via overnight post!

I mention this, because the delay may not be Customs, but the Customs Broker. This happened to me, the Broker did not seem to know his business, and kept requesting one additional bit of new information each day, that got routed to the Freight Forwarder, and then to me, who would respond back via the same channel. Add to this the fact the Broker let the crate sit for a few days before commencing activities, and I was presented with a bill from the bonding warehouse half the value of the freight costs! I was able to negotiate with the freight company, who agreed to pay half the cost since the Broker they engaged was not one they normally dealt with and they were unhappy with his performance too. Of course, I have no way of knowing if they inflated the original cost 200% so they could ‘discount’ it; they were very quick to offer to split the cost when they presented that little surprise! Anyway, the moral is, demand they supply you with a list of all the information they will need, as well as the inevitable customs forms that you will need to fill out, IN ADVANCE. Once it gets to the bonded warehouse, you do not want it sitting about while the Customs Broker is waiting to hear back from you. Even if you respond within an hour, it still has to wend its way through several other people’s hands, who may not even be working the same time zone as you. Most of the other times the crate, be it waiting to be consigned in a container, loaded or unloaded, or awaiting transfer between trucking terminals, it is the Fright Forward’s responsibility. So if it does sit, it is not costing you any money.

For USA importation the Customs Broker will also need the receiver’s Social Security number. They will also ask you to sign a form giving them power of attorney over your consignment, in order to act on your behalf in clearing it. Other countries may have similar requirements. He will also need the bill of lading (do not count on the Freight Forwarding firm to supply a copy.) Make sure your contact information is on every piece of paper and several location in and on the crate.

As for door-to-door, the price/service may depend on the loading/unloading facility. The delivery firm contracted on the UK end used smaller box trucks with hydraulic tailgates, so curbside pickup at a residence was not a problem. Fortunately I was able to leave the crate at a friend’s firm that regularly received truck deliveries, so it was not an issue. At the delivery end, they used larger tractor-trailers not equipped with hydraulic gates. So the delivery address needed to be a place that can handle a large truck, with either a loading dock or a forklift to pick the crate out of the back of the truck. The driver is only responsible to move the load to the back edge of the truck, and is not permitted to assist in the actual unloading. Otherwise you will need to arrange to collect your crate at their nearest freight terminal. I had the crate sent to a light industrial firm where I use to work, and picked it up from there. It arrived home suitably in the back of a 1931 Ford truck.

« Last Edit: 24 Oct 2006 at 01:03 by Doug »