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Old 22 Sep 1999
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planning a US tour from Europe

good day, currently living in japan I'm planning to go back to Europe and take 1 sabbatical year for a grand tour of the USA.
My aim is to do it with my motorcycle.
Can anybody give me some hints and info concerning the procedures I should follow concerning: Shipping the bike(air/sea-approximate cost- etc), customs, driver's license, bike compliance with US Ministry of transportation..(FIY the bike is a '95 BMW r1100gs registered in France, I'm italian so is my driver's license
Thanks very much in advance
Pino



[This message has been edited by Pino (edited 22 September 1999).]
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Old 24 Sep 1999
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Pino,

Welcome to the Horizons Unlimited Travellers' Bulletin Board!

There are several methods of shipping the bike. The easiest is probably by Lufthansa. (approx. US $1200) With them, you can just drive up to the airport, with minimal fuel in the tank, and they will load it onto a pallet and onto the plane. When you arrive at the airport cargo dock at the other end, they will have it waiting for you. Just drive it away.

First of course the bike will be inspected by US Customs, which shouldn't be any trouble at all, and agriculture - make sure it's clean. You may not even know this has happened, you probably won't see it.

When you go to the cargo terminal, they will direct you to US Customs office, where you have to fill in a form stating that you are visiting, are not a US resident, are not going to sell the bike, and therefore no duties payable. The fee is about US$25.00. That's it. Drive the bike away.

You should have your Italian drivers licence and an international drivers licence to be safe, (obtainable from your Automobile Asociation for next to nothing) although you are unlikely to be asked for it.

You will have to arrange insurance there, which can be difficult and tricky. I can't help you on that, as my Canadian insurance is valid in the US, I've never had to deal with that aspect. Contact the American Automobile Association, the AAA. They should be able to advise.

US Ministry of Transportation (DOT) compliance is not a problem. Ignore it. You're a visitor. Your bike is almost certainly compliant in all states except California, and California compliance is only required if you are resident in California even for Americans.

Another shipping method is to contact Mike Mandell - Michael I. Mandell, Inc. +1.516-822-1237 [US 800-245-8726], fax +1.516.822-0172; miminc@nais.com, or at www.516web.com/mim

410 Jericho Turnkpike, Suite 202, Jericho NY 11753 USA; UK agent, Claridon Shipping (Chris Scot), +44/(0)181 312 1612, fax +44/(0)181 312 1465 csukltd@claridon.co.uk [airfreight between NoAm & most Euro gateways, Aus, NZ, SoAm].

He ships to/from USA all the time and will do it all for you. Certainly the easiest, although it will cost more. He may also be willing to just arrange insurance for you.

Shipping by sea is slow, (15 days to 2 months) unsafe, and not much cheaper unless you get it in a container on some deal, and then it's really slow and unsafe.

While you're visiting the US, don't forget Canada. Some of the most spectacular riding and scenery in the world is in the Canadian Rockies, around Banff Alberta, and most of British Columbia is not to be missed.

I would recommend missing the center of the US and Canada, it's pretty boring - on the other hand, you should see it once! Three to four days riding, and absolutely nothing except flat prairie and grass and corn or wheat as far as you can see!

Note that at last check, there are NO US airlines that will carry bikes. Airlines I know of that will are - and anybody please update this! - Lufthansa, Canadian Airlines, and Virgin. There are certainly more, and plenty that will ship a bike as cargo. I used Challenge Air Cargo from Colombia to Miami.

For further information, go to www.bmwmoa.org/global/ToNorthAmerica.htm

Good luck, and keep in touch

Grant Johnson

Share the Dream!
at: www.HorizonsUnlimited.com

[This message has been edited by Grant (edited 23 September 1999).]
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