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Equipping the Bike - what's the best gear? Anything to do with the bikes equipment, saddlebags, etc. Questions on repairs and maintenance of the bike itself belong in the Brand Specific Tech Forums.
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Old 7 Jan 2002
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Location: Gent, Belgium
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Carrying spare tyres across borders

As we consider the extravagant money for sending 2 rear tyres not really an option (365 Euro by DHL ; 211 Euro by EMS "Standard service" (VAT and import taxes not included)), we'll be taking spare rear tyres on the back of our bikes on our next journey (6 to 7 months overland Belgium to India). Unfortunately, this time no mothers, brothers, sisters are coming to see us - with... ooo, by coincidence... a pair of tyres in their suitcase !
We're aware of the pro's and contra's but one question remains : do the customs at borders consider tyres to be items which must be "officially imported", even when you're carrying them on the back of your bike ?
At the Indian border for instance, we read a report you had to specify all spare parts (they checked thoroughly there and then), but no idea what happens if some of these are used on your bike when leaving the country again. No idea where they write this information in/on either - in one of the "Big Books" ?
I also know on the Carnet, there is a specific to-be-filled-in-section for "spare tyres" but I presume it has more to do with cars. I wouldn't fill this in, as once the tyres are on the rim, we don't carry them any longer - obviously.
Any experiences ?

Iris and Trui
2 belgian women, usually travelling on bikes (now on DR650SE's)
Iris and Trui
2 belgian women, often travelling on motorbikes (now on DR650SE\'s)
2nd overland from home to Northern India and back, April-October 2002
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Old 11 Jan 2002
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My experience with customs in many countries is that they tend to visually assess things (not very scientifically) as either "part of the normal equipment of the vehicle" or "not part of the normal equipment of the vehicle".

For example, I have never had customs ask me at all about my US$800 GPS unit mounted on my handlebars, probably because it looks like it is built into the motorcycle (even though it is an add-on). But the same customs people have given me a hard time about a small CD player in my tank bag, worth much less.

Along the same lines, when I have imported aircraft into a country, customs staff have seen but ignored thousands of dollars worth of tools in the baggage hold (thinking "they belong to the aircraft", when they really don't), but asked about a $75 igniter plug that was in sealed packaging ("are you importing that part"?).

I don't think you will be able to get a definitive answer to your question. Interpretations vary too much from country to country, as well as between individual inspectors.

Your best strategy would be to remove any form of labeling or packaging from the tire - so it does not look like a 'new part' - then stow it on the motorcycle at the bottom of all your gear, to try and make it look like it is sort of part of your overall kit. If you have some kind of bracket that holds your spare tire on your panniers, better even still.

Customs people would never question a spare tire on an automobile if it was stowed in the original location where the manufacturer put it - but if you had a loose, new tire in the trunk, they would likely ask about it, even if the spare tire stowage location on the car was empty.

Hope this helps you.
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Old 29 Jan 2002
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One other idea that came to me about your tire question - this might sound crazy, but customs officers in lesser developed countries are sometimes crazy too:

Most large tire companies that service trucks, buses, etc. have a tool that can be used to 'brand' tires (to burn in letters and numbers into the sidewall of the tire). Branding the tire in this manner does not affect the strength of the tire in any way, it is a normal procedure for bus and truck tires, to either identify the tire by fleet unit, or to mark it to prevent theft.

You might want to consider taking your spare tires to a large tire service company in Belgium, and asking them to brand the sidewall of your tire with the matriculation number (licence plate number) of your motorcycle. This would probably only cost you a very small amount - perhaps a few euro per tire.

Because your tires would then be permanently marked with the matriculation of your motorcycle, you would have no problem (in theory) explaining to the customs inspector that the spare tires are obviously part of the original equipment of the motorcycle, and you have no intention of trying to import them and then sell them in a foreign country.

Good luck....
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Old 11 Feb 2002
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if you look carefully on the form of the carnet de passages en douane, on the document "demande de titre douanier", you have to fill / they ask for your kind of motorbike : engine, serial number, etc ... and also "pneumatiques de secours (nombre)" which means in english spare tyres (number).
so, i guess if you have this written on your carnet de passages en douane, it should be ok at the borders :-)

so see the paper in your country "demande de titre douanier"
in france, that's the way it is written ...

Vincent Danna

* www.va-project.com
Sept 2008 - dec 2009 : Voyage et art contemporain en Amérique du sud.

* http://vincent.danna.free.fr/
2002 - 2004 : Un tour du monde en moto.
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Old 12 Feb 2002
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I am not sure if it it important, but... The spare tire will be placed on the bike at some point. Usually you will not keep the old tire, so... if the tire is noted on the carnet, and not exported.. customs could say you permanently imported the tire.

It's something to think about I guess.

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Old 18 Feb 2002
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In one country that I worked in, if we wanted to scrap an aircraft engine (very heavy object), customs agreed that we could just remove and export the serial number plate (weight 50 grams), because the engine was useless without the serial number plate.

Perhaps one could cut out the area of the old tire's sidewall that has the size specification, and show that to customs on the way out?
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