Panama to Ecuador without Carnet
I just shipped my bike from Panama to Quito without having a Carnet. No problem!
Here's the story:
I used Girag Panama S.A. because that's what most bikers do. They have an office in Panama City, phone 223-8328 (Dalys there speaks a little English), and a warehouse at the airport, phones 230-4091 or 238-4289. Their email address (that didn't work when I tried) is firstname.lastname@example.org, Dalys reads the email and she has a dictionary... Unfortunately they don't have direct flights, they fly via Bogota. They only have one flight a week there, that's on Fridays late at night.
If you use this company, just drive to the Girag warehouse at the cargo terminal near the airport in Friday afternoon before 5. You have to pass the airport and follow signs to Tocumen, then keep right all the time and you'll get there after 7-8 kilometers. I guess all the other companys is located there also. You have to remove the mirrors on the bike, and disconnect the battery. Be sure to have very little fuel in the tank, then you don't have to drain it. Girag fills in the Air Way Bill, you pay (in my case $545), and get the AWB stamped at the customs office on your way out. It's buses there that takes you back downtown. The whole operation might take some time, have a good lunch before you go there!
My bike was delayed several days in Bogota, and it was all quite a mess. Girag don't have an office in Ecuador, so they ship to Bogota and transfers the responsibility to another company there; it might be a different one from flight to flight. So in Quito it was a problem finding which company that had my bike. If you use Girag make sure to get the full name and address of the company in Quito before you leave Panama; it might save you phonecalls to Panama and Bogota, and a day. The company at this end said the bike was here, but changed their opinion when it wasn't in their warehouse. A lot of waiting and phonecalls later, they found that the bike was still in Bogota. As I said; quite a mess.
Therefore I would suggest that you try another company. I asked the company that handled the customs for me here in Quito, they suggested Copa Airlines Cargo as a better alternative; they have direct flights to Quito. Anyway, my bike arrived without damages, except for one hand-protector that was almost off, I just re-mounted it and it was okay.
Now the Ecuadorian part of the job:
If you don't have a Carnet, do the following:
Contact the Ecuadorian Motorcycle Federation (Federación Ecuatoriana de Motociclismo - www.fem.org.ec).
Address: Avenida 12 de Octubre y Cordero, Edificio World Trade Center Oficina 1502, it's near the Swiss hotel. Email: email@example.com.
Or contact Ricardo Rocco, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com (he have had some problems with his email recently), phone 244-8437 (home) or 099-722-408 (cell). Ricardo works for the federation and is really a nice guy, he agreed to have his contact information here. He speaks English.
He or the federation will write you a letter saying you are just in transit, that letter will work as good as a Carnet.
Then you go to the company that has your bike (Copa or the company Girag used for the flight from Bogota). If the bike has arrived, they fill out a bunch of papers and give them to you in addition to the AWB. For this you have to pay $20+. Then take all the papers to Bertha Ibarra, phone 451-683 (no English) at the airport, she's the agent that helps you with customs and saves you a day or three. Just take a taxi to Aduana at the airport; she's located in the last building of the dead-end road, the address is Pasaje Amazonas 323 and Rio Arajuno, it's easy to find. She will do all the necessary paperwork, and then you (with help from her company) have to que up to get the papers through customs. This might take some time, in my case about 5 hours. They work slow, and have two hours lunch from noon to two. When all that's done, you just go and pick up the bike, pay additional $20+ to the cargo company and $30 to Bertha. That's all!
I hope this helps someone a little, just send me an email if you have any questions.
Just to add our experiences at the Ecuador end. We shipped 3 bikes together. Same airway bill. One had a carnet. Two didn't.
Bertha wouldn't go below 40$/bike. Total 120$. So we went into the customs compund, found a guy who knew his way around 'Transito Turistico' and paid him 40$ for for the tramites on all three.
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