How to Ship Your Bike

Introduction

This section contains:

Enter YOUR OWN PREVIOUS shipment, to help other travellers!

Actual Shipments DONE by Travellers

See the Shipping pages for information on air and sea shipments by actual travellers to or from everywhere!

For each shipment, the details include Shipping Date, Cost, Shipper Contact details and a Description of the experience, in many cases very detailed and extremely useful information about the requirements for crating or the paperwork involved at the destination location.

This information has been gleaned from various sources, and not all details are available for every route. If you are aware of any more up-to-date information, or you know of any shipping details for locations which aren't listed in the database, please advise us. Thanks to all who have entered shipment details, and please keep it coming!


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!
Motorcycle Services
MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Services and get your HU $15 discount!

Air or Sea?

After shipping our own bike many times, and watching and hearing about hundreds more shipments, we have come to the conclusion that overall, the best method to send your bike is via air.

Sea shipping sounds cheaper, but the port fees are much higher, often off-setting any savings, or worse, as we heard recently, costing a traveller more than the entire original shipping fees! And by the time you factor in being without the bike for weeks or even months, it's usually not worth any savings you may get in the end. An important thing to watch for is that sea shipments are extraordinarily unreliable for time. The shipper will often quote for instance 6-8 weeks to ship from Vancouver to Europe by sea. Experience has shown that this is at best an optimistic guess, at worst a flat lie. Yes it can be done in six weeks, but not if the boat is rerouted to Nigeria! Twelve weeks is not unheard of, and then there's the dock strikes...

We know of one traveller who arranged shipping for her bike from England to Ecuador 12 weeks in advance of her planned vacation in South America. On arrival in Ecuador, she went to the shipping company's office looking for her bike. They knew nothing about it. It was still in the UK, awaiting a boat. She didn't enjoy the bus for the next two months. At least with an airplane they can always put it on another flight and it will only be a matter of days before it arrives.

Unfortunately US airlines are getting paranoid about shipping bikes - they class them as "dangerous goods" - and often refuse to carry them at all. All you can do is call all the airlines freight departments and find out if they will do it. Not the head office etc. - their automatic reaction is NO. If you find one make sure you talk to the guys in the freight department that actually handle it - what they will tell you is often very different from the official story from head office and passenger people. Do a search using the search bar above on "dangerous goods" to find much more about solutions and ways to deal with the problem. MOST shipments aren't done out of the USA anymore, most travellers use Canada instead due to this problem. Air Canada is very familiar with shipping bikes, and it can generally be done by dealing direct with the FREIGHT guys at the airport - not the check-in desk! :)

Lufthansa and other European airlines, as well as South American and Asian airlines will generally take a bike. You may have to work through an agent, but it is usually not too expensive for their services, and they will take care of all the paperwork for you.

For a good description of the crating process, see Chris and Erin Ratay's website. Chris also made this comment on the Air vs Sea question on the HUBB:

"Receiving a bike at the airport in Buenos Aires is much cheaper than at the seaport. ($60 vs $400). I've heard that Uruguay is a bit more expensive.

A friend shipped his bike to Valpariso (near Santiago), Chile, and paid US$7 -- yes, only SEVEN Dollars to reclaim his bike. I was with him, and the whole process was done in one day. The customs offices are walking distance from where the containers get unpacked."

Also, there are numerous more posts on the HUBB on this topic, in the Trip Transport forum.

General Instructions for Shipping

  • You may get told you can't ship the battery with the bike - that is not generally true - you MUST however completely disconnect the battery and tape the terminals securely. Also usually you must drain MOST of the fuel out of the tank, a litre or pint or so left is usually fine, just enough to get you to a fuel station on arrival.


Grant preparing to crate the bike in Cape Town, South Africa

  • We usually leave the front wheel on when shipping as we're lazy - it can be an advantage to be able to just wheel the bike out of the crate and drive away, particularly in places like Nairobi. All I usually do is take off the mirrors and windshield, but it does cost a little more. Sometimes the local warehouse where you pick up the bike will not allow you to dismantle the crate there, insisting you take the crate away on a truck. We've always been able to get around this, but it has taken some persuading in the USA. (and waiting for everyone to go on coffee break)
  • Crates can often be obtained from a dealer. Wood crates are the easiest to deal with but many crates are now metal with a cardboard wrapper. They will work, but are harder to custom size. They are lighter, which can be good, but usually the problem with a bike is not the weight but the volume. Shipping costs are calculated on a weight per volume basis. If the weight is over x / cubic foot then you pay the weight, if under you pay based on volume. Bikes are bulky, and you have to work hard to get the volume down in order to pay the weight price. You will have to really squeeze hard to get down to the weight price.

"Size counts" formula in common use:

Length x Width x Height in cm. divided by 6 = weight in KG.

e.g. 225 x 100 x 115 = 2587.5 cm3 divided by 6 = 431kg*

Therefore regardless of the REAL weight of the bike and crate, you will be charged AS IF it weighed 431 KG.


Strapped down on the base of the crate
  • DON'T fully compress the forks. The bike should be tied down on its suspension, about half-way down.
  • It should NOT be resting on centre-stand or side-stand, only on its wheels, and vertical. This will not harm the springs (unless you leave it for a couple of years). If it's on the stand, it will pound up and down in transport, and cause a lot of damage to the stand, the crate, etc.
  • Use good straps (I like 6) and don't skimp on the crate. You can usually get them for nothing from bike dealers, since they usually throw them away anyway. Good straps are often available for free from BMW dealers - they are what BMW uses to ship their bikes, and dealers end up with plenty. They are popular though!
  • IF you really want to squeeze the volume down, take the front wheel off, rest the bike on the skidplate or forks (with axle installed and clamps tightened), and tie securely.
  • Book a container and put several bikes in it, and the cost per bike will usually drop significantly.


Strapping boxes on top, getting as much as possible in and as small as possible.

To reduce your shipping costs - from Istvan Szlany:

  • Dismount front tire with fender, handle bar with mirrors, and side+tail bags/boxes to reduce height, length and width and you'll pay the minimum possible by volume.
  • if you can, crate the bike, because then they can put other things on the top of the motorcycle crate. Ask around for scrap wood, nails and hammer - I'm sure they have. In this case you will pay most likely for the weight of the motorcycle (Make sure that you will pay only for the weight of the motorcycle and not for the crate, too.)


Almost done.

For a good description of the crating process, see Chris and Erin Ratay's website.

Also, there are numerous posts on the HUBB on this topic, in the Trip Transport forum.

Other issues to think about

  • Import regulations
  • Carnet de passage or temporary import permit (esp. OZ)
  • Insurance (transport, bike, health insurance etc.)
  • Quarantine: Be aware of very strict regulations for OZ and NZ.

Comments

Around the first of august my bike arrives in Ulaan Bataar. Maybe some one can use the crate from there?

When we send the bike from Sydney to New Zealand we used http:// www.cargoaustralia.com.au. They were able to clean the bike and crate it within 24 hours. and we had no issues with NZ quarantine. I think they also send cars and motorhomes from Australia. Back to AUS again in September and then to SaoPaulo and then to South Africa. Can any one help with a freight forwarder in Sao Paulo to ship my bike to South Africa?
Thanks
Denamv

We are shipping our Toyota Landcruiser to Europe around august. Anyone shipping their bikes or car to Europe then? Perhaps we can share a container. Shipment from Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne. We are flexible.

Shipment of the car to Australia was taken care of by Bikes Abroad (http://www.bikesabroad.com.au/). Although the company is specialized in shipment of bikes, everything went perfect. The services provided by Ivan was great. Can really recommend him and will probably use his services again on the way back.

Planning a trip up thro Patagonia Nov - Dec 2016 - so looking to ship 2 bikes from UK into Ushuiai then back from Buenos Aires
Anyone have any recommendations on a shipper who could do that
Thanks

Take your bikes to BA, ride to Ushuaia, Calafate, a bit of Chilean Patagonia, back to BA through Mendoza, Cordoba.
We shipped two Honda C90s with these companies.
Total costs (ea):
£955 airfreight
$170 Airway bill
$250 agent fee (to Dakar Motos)
$300 one day storage at BA airport
$70 insurance for 6 months
weight: 160kg

Check Motofreight and James Cargo, both UK companies that are well regarded.

Hi all,
we are riding our F800GS and G650GS bikes currently from Perth to Sydney over the next 2 months, and then looking to ship our bikes back home to Rotterdam by vessel, somewhere around the 2nd week of April 2016.

We are looking for 1 or 2 other bikers that are planning to do the same shipment so we can share a 20ft container. In this way we would all save costs, the bikes will be more protected as there will not be other stuff in the container that might damage them, and the bikes would not need to be crated what saves time and money as well.

Just let us know if you are interested!

Bjorn & Willie

Hello,
I am currently in Kyrgyzstan, with my European registered lada niva.
I am planning to ship it by truck to Europe, Germany, Belgium or Holland.
I have absolutely no experience in shipment.
Has anyone done that before?
Is there a company that can be recommended?
What documents should I produce?
How should I prepare the car for the shipment?
What are the do and don't I should be aware of for car shipment?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance,
Xavier

Xaviercd,

Kygyzstan to Europe would be very unusual, but it's probably possible! We have nothing at all listed in the area.

Company - sorry , we have nothing on local companies in Kyrgyzstan. Do a search in the Shipping database of shipments that have been done before by travellers and it will give you some ideas, and companies that may be international that you can try for a local office. You will have to expand the search area - Asia to Europe will give you lots.

Also see http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/links/all/kyrgyzstan for some tour companies in the area that may be of some help for a small fee.

Preparation: The local shippers should be able to help with the details, but mostly think of security, and fire risk. Not too much fuel for instance, and once it's loaded in a container, disconnect the battery. (Back it in to make it easy)

Hopefully that and a good read through the shipments should help give some ideas. For more questions best to ask in the 4wd forums as there will be more expertise there.

hope that helps!

A bit of an update on Amber Worldwide Peru (and Edwin Pinedo), in spite of a posting here in the Hubb, I decided to go with this company to ship my bike from Lima, Peru back to the US at the end of my journey through the Americas. And I am glad to report no issues whatsoever. Just the opposite. They were rather efficient (I got my bike out of there in 10 days or so, this from given them the bike to the ship leaving port), and always super efficient.

And for completeness, once the bike got to Miami, I contracted Gaston Etchart from SAmericaXplorer (a "regular" on this forum) to help me out with paperwork, customs, et cetera. And I am also glad to report that he was of great help indeed. Cheers

Hiya Guys,

 

After months of trying to ship my vehicle out of Nigeria have finally found a good shipping agent who will assist in shipping into and out of Nigeria.  If anyone requires details please let me know and I will give you any information that I have, Company name and contact details, plus anything else I can give you in way of assistance with the benefit of hindsight lol.

My contact will also assist with letters of recomendation etc etc where he is able.

Happy travels.

 

I have searched the internet for a shipping company which can haul my vehicle to LA. Finally got the company We Will Transport It. I have chosen this company based on their reviews.

Thanks for the post. I currently have my bike in Abuja Nigeria and would like to ship it to the east coast or even South Africa. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Nototure, UKBlue is unlikely to see your post here, so click his name and write him directly.

That's good news! When the shipment is complete please enter it in the Shipping Database to make it easy for everyone to find. http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/get-ready/shipping

Thanks, Grant

Basic question...

I have a fair amout of experience riding around the world but have never actually shipped my bike...
Can I just ask, do you guys find, quote and arrange the shipping from home or do you wait until you are at the departure site to start looking for companies and ways to do it?
If that's the case, how do you estimate the costs for doing it?

 

Safe ride boys!

Marcio, you'll get more responses to your question on the HUBB in the Trip Transport forum, but I'll answer as best I can here :)
IF you're only doing a short trip, sure plan it at home, but when you're on the road for years, you just do it as you go. Prices will change, companies and people come and go, and no one will hold a quote for more than 30 days anyway.

For planning, assume roughly US$2000 per ocean crossing and you'll be happy when it's less! :) And there's always incidental costs, especially if shipping by sea. You might have to build a crate for air and sea - the correct certified wood can be several hundred dollars!

Just be flexible, listen to what others have done, read the info here and check out the "Previous shipments" shipping database for info.

Have a great trip!

Just for reference. We're shipping an FLSTS Harley Brisbane-LA. It's on a steel pallet , steel cardboard support and heavy cardboard. Not dismantled at all (except windscreen), to a total of 3.8 cubic meter. Shipping with a company called Bikes Abroad out of Brisbane Australia to LA. This is a breakup of the quote.

Origin Charges AU$337,

Freight Charges (Ship): AU$570 (that's for the shipping)

Destination charges in the US: AU$1,630 (FOR: Port service charges, Notary, fee, shipping bond, customs clearance DOR processing fee, Importer Security Filing, Transfer fee, Destination Handling Chrages, and about ten more such fees and charges).

For a grand total of AU$2,537. (I think some $130 or so insurance needs to be added too). So doing a deal for a little cheaper Freight charge, wouldn't change much (all none freight charges are more!). Many of the destination and origin charges would still apply if I ship by air, I expect.

Without taking the wheels off, using a perfectly tailored made crate I could get it down to 1.8 cube. It Weighs 330kg empty, then tools and camping gear. Does anyone suggest that air freight could be done for less than say $6,000, included all charges and fees?

Cheers

Royal

Hi Royal
How did you go assessing air vs ship to LA. I want to send my bike later this year and am keen to hear how you went with this? Who did you bring the bike back with?

Hi Ross. When it came to shipping from Brisbane to US-West coast. We just couldn't find an airfreight for less than 8-10,000. We shipped from Brisbane - LA direct with "Bikes Abroad".
Talk to Ivan. http://bikesabroad.com.au/
They ship weekly. It had to be crated to go with general cargo (Not many bikes going to US fr Brisbane). Going there was about AU$2,400 including all fees, shipping docs, etc. plus full comprehensive door to door insurance was approx 475AUD ( $237.50 each way) They arrange import and export documents and excemtion (emission laws). They advised that there had been a strike at the docs and suggested I go a week early. I went three weeks early cause I didn't want to take any chances. They didn't charge any storage fees for extra times.
I crated it myself using donated material from Morgan and Wacker (Harley Dealer). The FLSTS springer is a big and heavy bike about 2.55 meter long.
http://www.ozemate.com/unigo/images/p0.jpg
Lowering the crate dimension about 3 inches, saved me a bit. I included camping and some riding gear and the chassi part of my MC trailer. Once in L.A. the shipping agent accepted my discarded crate as I unpacked. The detached fibreglass pod of the trailer I took at no extra cost, just as oversized luggage on the plane! (it weighs less than 10 kg).
Coming back (with the same Co) from LA after 4 months and 40,000 kilometres, cost me about $1,800 from memory. The return trip was uncrated, as it was "containered" with other bikes. I just wrapped it a bit in bubble plastics. They were good to deal with. Hazzle free. If I were to ship again, I'd go with them. Actually we plan to, next year, to Europe, at the same sort of cost $2,4500 crated. Some pack up photos at
https://www.facebook.com/241614922573930/photos/a.827309290671154.107374...

I am presently in Ecuador, Banos actually, and need to get my bike back to Calgary Alberta Canada.  I am exploring whatever options I can and I'm wondering if someone out there may have some contact or advice for me.  It's going a little slow at the moment and any tips or help would be very much appreciated.  Please contact me at hank...@hotmail.com

Thanks so much!!!!!!

 

Shipping from Argentina or Chile to Portugal or Spain

Would like to know if someone has more info about potentaly doing this or even better if someone has done this? Not sure what my first step shoud be here? I've looked little bit online without much luck. I'm in Colombia right now and plan to be down in Argentina or Chile in 3-4 months, but would like to sort this out soon. Thanks all.

Unlikely to be a recent shipment entry for that exact shipment, but similar is entirely possible in the shipping database here. Have you checked into it? There's loads of good information on good companies to ship with in there. Dakar Motos in BA are good.
 

Hi Folks,

I have a 2010  Kawasaki GTR 1400 in South East London, however I am in Auckland.

I am half way through my 1 year work visa, with a good chance of making it permanent.  I would like to bring my bike over asap, as it will be Summer here soon, and Damn! I really miss riding!

I have a number of questions,  and any/all advice/suggesti8ns welcomed.

Air or Sea shipping? Anyone else thinking of bringing a machine, or two over anytime soon, share the costs etc. How much of a p.i.t.a. can NZ Customs be, and what's a good/bad idea, such as a timber crate might not be good, I.e. possible bio-hazard.

Anyone know of people that can pick the bike up and pack/crate it for me in the UK, as I'm not able to go back and do it myself!

Thanks again,

Nick

Hi guys

I am planning a trip through Easter Africa, starting in Cape Town, I am living in Copenhagen and so far have not found an option to ship my bike from there to Cape Town, however I have received an option from Hamburg to Cape Town, however I have to get a hold on a Crate for my bike in Hamburg, and i have no idea where to start to look for one, any suggestions who might sell such neccesety :)

Kind regards

Brynja

Best bet is to visit local motorcycle dealers and see what they have, they often throw them away! Otherwise you have to make one, but be careful about the country you're shipping to and the requirement for treated wood!

Hi All,

New to the site and looking for some advice/info on shipping from the Uk to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Anyone with any experience/stories relating to shiping to Canada??

 

Hi, I don't know if you can do roll-on, roll-off ("roro") with bikes, but if you can, there is a shipping line in Southampton that does roro - I used to live in Halifax and shipped a couple of London taxis over there (the Dartmouth Autoport on the other side of the harbour)through them - a lot cheaper than crating as other shippers wanted to do the crating to "beef up" the costs...

There are no great issues UK to Canada, there should be a number of them in the shipping listings, (link on this page for shipments by travellers) and on the links pages are a number of shippers.

Three companies we deal with are James Cargo and MotoFreight out of the UK and Motorcycle Express in the US all do that route regularly.

Hope that helps!

 

Hi Guys,

 

I am looking for any help in advice or suggestions in trying to ship my bike from Italy to lebanon. I have tried contacting numerous vendors but it seems when the say international it only means from the UK or USA to the rest of the world. Any links or advice appreciated.



 
Important: For more information on what World Nomad's policies cover, read this Prices & Benefits page for residents of various countries.
Grant says: ALWAYS read the policy CAREFULLY to be SURE you are covered on your motorcycle, there are exceptions and variations depending on home country and where you're going and a whole lot of other things. READ THE POLICY!
 

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