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  #1  
Old 25 Feb 2011
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Customs Clearance at Heathrow, London, UK

Hey,

I am pretty new to this but having recently brought the bikes home via airfreight I now need to get them out of Heathrow and back to Northern Ireland.

I started off getting a quote to bring the (crated) bikes home via road. Then I got a call this morning to say the roadfreight company would not be able to collect them til they clear customs. They are both UK registered so you would have thought this would be easy...

Now the interesting bit is that the cargo handling warehouse have seen the carnet mentioned on the air waybill. They want that to pass the bikes through customs and back into UK but also said carnet is not normally valid for the UK. I could not understand why they'd want to stamp the carnet in for the bikes when they are UK bikes to begin with.

After going round in some more circles I spoke with customs clearing agents for the air/sea division of the road freight company. Now they also want the carnet (with me at home) to pass through customs but have mentioned the last page (certificate of location) to prove the bikes came home. To me this page is only if you failed to get the bike stamped out of somewhere else. Having said that if it made them happy...

Anyone ever cleared bikes out of Heathrow before? I am thinking of flying back there and attempting it myself at this stage. Is there a customs office there that I'd take all the paperwork to? Looks like the airline will start charging storage fees very soon

Neil
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  #2  
Old 11 Mar 2011
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OK - now I have done this I'll post up the info.

The correct forms to complete for customs clearance of an EC bike arriving in the UK are on the HMRC site and are C179B (for the bike) and C3 (for your luggage in the panniers). It seems to be impossible to submit this to customs yourself (its done electronically now) so you have to use an agent.

There are tons of customs clearing agents at Heathrow and elsewhere. Unfortunately I picked DSV at the start and they didn't have a clue what they were doing. They saw "carnet" on the air waybill and got themselves all tied up in knots. I then used HWFS and was very pleased with their service -

HWFS 24:7 EXPRESS-HEATHROW WEEKEND FREIGHT SERVICES, AIRFREIGHT EXPRESS FORWARDING/SHIPPING AIR CARGO AGENT AND CUSTOMS CLEARANCE BROKER, LONDON, UK

(not affiliated just satisfied)

The process from there was for me to fill out and scan/email the forms and they had them submitted and cleared in 20 minutes. If I were doing it again I would fill out the forms before the bike arrived and hope to lift the bike out of the warehouse on the same day.

Hope this helps someone.

Neil
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Old 25 Oct 2011
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Hi there -- I'm about to ship my bike from JFK to Heathrow using Berklay. I think it'll head out tomorrow or the day after. Anyway, as usual I left the customs clearance stuff to the last minute, and right now I don't know what the next step will be.

Berklay directed my attention to James Cargo for the clearance on the UK end. Here's James Cargo's price rundown:

------------

Airline Handling - £0.18 per kilo (Min. 33.50)
Collection from airline to JCS depot- £55
Processing - £75.00
Unpacking - £35
Disposal of Packaging - £35
Duty & VAT As Incurred

------------

...all of which kind of seems a little steep to me.

Now, Neil, you said up there that "The correct forms to complete for customs clearance of an EC bike arriving in the UK are on the HMRC site and are C179B (for the bike) and C3 (for your luggage in the panniers). It seems to be impossible to submit this to customs yourself (its done electronically now) so you have to use an agent."

Is this the only step in which the services of an agent are absolutely required? Can all of the other steps be done in a DIY fashion at Heathrow?

And if so, could you let me know what those steps might be, and in what order? This is my fourth time air freighting this bike, and none of the previous three shipping experiences, all in different countries, had similar processes. Each was different from the next, leaving me feeling like a total rookie each time.

Also: at which point does the possession of valid green card insurance become an essential step? I'll have to have that in my hot little hands before attempting clearance, correct?

JVM
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Old 25 Oct 2011
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You are going to want to get your carnet stamped back into the country of origin so you can get the initial carnet deposit back. So, I think having the UK authorities stamp the carnet is probably a good idea.
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Old 25 Oct 2011
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Hey -- thanks for that tip, but my Vespa is no longer travelling on a carnet. I used it for India, Iran, Indonesia, Cambodia, etc., but it was only good for a year and expired back in May. Also, I managed to get the carnet in Serbia with a meagre deposit of 400 euros (don't ask), and so if I don't get any of that back it's not the end of the world.

I'll be doing the temporary import to the UK, in other words.
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Old 26 Oct 2011
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I think you will be paying the airline handling fee regardless of who you use. I don't know if it is possible to pickup the bike and de-crate it yourself as I got ours lifted by a road freight operator. My guess is they would quote a load of health and safety type stuff at you, as is our society these days.

Assuming the bike is european registered otherwise import duties get complex? The forms I quoted were for a UK (or european) vehicle returning to the country.

HM Revenue & Customs: Tax on personal items when moving to the UK

You will have to employ someone to do the clearance for you as you can't submit the forms yourself. This seems to be the processing fee quoted. HWFS were good for us where others failed.

Make *sure* you have this sorted before the bike arrives in Heathrow. The storage fees per day will make the fees you quote here look like small change. The key is to get everything sorted and out of there fast!

Good luck.

Neil
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