Flying the Moto
Having talked with a number of Adventure Travelers that have flown their bikes from country to country it is obvious that there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding surrounding ‘Customs’ issues and what in the industry/government vernacular is referred to as ‘dangerous goods’.
Having retired from the airline industry and being one that uses airlines, whether they be passenger or freighter, to transport my R1200GS between countries I’d like to comment.
Air carriers are bound by both International Law and Regulations by what are referred to as ‘member states’, ie, the United States for example. The laws and regulations must match but the member states regulations can be in some cases more restrictive.
That takes us to the ‘Customs Agent’. The person you deal with at the departure airport and then again the destination airport. Although the laws and regulations spell out the requirements for the shipping of dangerous goods, (the motorcycle) the interruption is at the discretion of the agent you happen to encounter. They, like all of us, have good days and bad days. One’s attitude in dealing with them can influence the outcome of the process.
The air carrier, cargo carrier and the freight forwarder are all trying to follow the rules for the transport of dangerous goods. If it is determined by government regulatory agents that there is a violation the air carrier pays a civil penalty that can exceed $10,000 per incident.
So how does this translate? You prepare your bike for shipment in accordance with the regulations. The bike arrives at your destination airport. The person there tells you that you really didn’t need to crate the bike, or you really didn’t need to empty the panniers, or you didn’t need to disconnect the battery, etc., etc. etc. Or the bike was not properly cleaned before shipping. (They want to keep vermin out of their country.) The list goes on and on.
The entire process can be a ‘crap shoot’. Listen to what the folks at the departure airport tell you, they are trying to follow the rules and don’t want to be fined. Upon arrival at your destination airport be patient and remember that a smile goes a long way. Believe me, you’ll never win an argument with a customs agent.
Reno, NV USA
Deadhorse to Ushuaia 2011
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