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  #1  
Old 10 May 2013
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Bike arriving in Canada by air.

My bike has been booked to be delivered by air freight with James Cargo to Halifax airport on the 14th June, So far I've purchased Canadian motor insurance and made sure the bike is completely clean. Is there anything else l need to arrange or do before hand or will clearing customs/temp importing the bike be straight forward? I just want to make sure every thing is covered and l've not forgotten anything.






Alex
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  #2  
Old 11 May 2013
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Hi Alex:

Canada Customs (and, to a lesser extent, Agriculture Canada) are not inherently difficult to deal with, and don't have any known policies that make things difficult for a person temporarily importing a bike into Canada, but:

It is critical that you keep in the top of your mind the awareness that it is very rare for any one Canada Customs official to be presented with a visitor temporarily importing a motorcycle - this means that the officer that you will be dealing with has probably never been confronted with such a temporary import before, and that raises two potential problems:

1) They won't know what to do.

2) They might, in good faith, think that certain restrictions (for example, those that are applicable to a PERMANENT importation of a motor vehicle) apply to a temporary importation for tourist purposes.

So, you will need to be be mentally very relaxed when you go through the customs process, and be ready to be patient, gracious, and calm if the Customs officer accidentally heads off down the wrong paperwork trail.

I have participated in numerous "entries to Canada" of motorcycles in the past - sometimes involving my own Canadian plated, bought in Canada moto coming back from Europe, and sometimes helping out European visitors who have brought their own moto over for a temporary visit. It's always a bit of a cumbersome experience, not because of the actual Canadian rules, but because of the unfamiliarity that the Customs officers have with temporary importations of foreign vehicles for tourist purposes.

To be fair to the Customs employees, you have to understand that here in Canada, lots and lots of citizens go to the USA, purchase a car or moto, then bring it back to Canada with the intent of permanently importing it. Thus, the Customs folks are very familiar with the process for permanent importation - and subsequent registration of the vehicle to use Canadian licence plates.

This means that there is a fairly high probability that the Customs officer you first deal with will (in good faith, but due to lack of knowledge and experience with temporary tourist imports) try to put you through the process of permanent importation, or raise objections to your entry because your bike does not conform to standards (such as lighting, emissions, etc.) that it would have to conform to for permanent importation. These requirements do not apply to a temporary importation for tourist purposes.

So, having said all of that, here is a checklist of things you can do to facilitate the process, and to assist you in (gently and diplomatically) explaining the temporary importation process to the Customs officer if the need arises:

1) Make sure that you can easily and convincingly show to the Customs person evidence that you intend to only visit Canada on a temporary basis. This could include a copy of a return air ticket for yourself, correspondence (not necessarily official) with the shipping company discussing the plans to return the moto to wherever it came from at the end of your visit, some kind of route plan for your vacation, etc.

2) Do be sure to have ample evidence that the motorcycle is properly registered in your home country, and ample evidence that it belongs to you. This could include whatever kind of registration document your government issues (hopefully one that includes the licence plate number), your original receipt for purchasing the motorcycle, etc. It might be a good idea to make up a couple of 'photocopy packs' of these documents, so you can give a set of photocopies to the Customs official if necessary.

3) For sure, have the original copy of the Canadian insurance document available. This is referred to in Canada as a 'pink slip' (because it is pink). Be aware that in the USA, the colloquial term 'pink slip' refers to the registration of the vehicle (as in "we raced for pink slips, and I lost, so now I am riding a bicycle"), but in Canada, 'pink slip' means the Canadian Insurance Document.

It might be helpful for you to point out to the Customs person that your Canadian insurance is only good for 3 months, or 6 months, or whatever, because you only intend to stay in the country 3 months, or 6 months, etc. In other words, make sure that the insurance document is congruent with the plans you talk about that I mentioned in point 1) above.

4) Be sure that your moto has one of those white oval stickers on the back that identifies your country of registration, in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. Strictly speaking, if you have a new European style licence plate with the blue band on the left end, you don't need one, but don't assume that the Canada customs people will know this.

5) Be sure you have an International Driver Permit. Once again, this is primarily to be able to convince the Customs people that you are a bona-fide tourist. Strictly speaking, the Customs people should not need to ask to see your driver licence (it's the moto that is the issue, not you), but again, the more you can do to show them that you are a visitor, a tourist, the easier the process will be.

6) It is possible that the Customs person will say that they need to call an Agriculture inspector to look at the moto to see if there are any bugs on it, or any soil on it, etc. Unfortunately, it costs about $100+ to have this done, and it also sometimes delays the process by a day (resulting in storage charges in the air freight hall). If you ask the Customs person to inspect the bike themselves, they might reply by saying "I don't have the qualifications to identify bugs or soil". That is fair, but you should then respond "I respect that, I am just asking you to look at it to determine if there actually is any evidence of bugs or soil on the bike. If you find any bugs or soil, sure, let's call an agricultural person. But if you don't see any bugs or soil anywhere, then I think you might agree to release the bike without an agricultural inspection."

The Customs people are generally pretty reasonable, and if you put your request to them that way, they will probably see it as a way of fulfilling their obligations without causing you excessive inconvenience (and expense). Just be sure the damn motorcycle doesn't have any bugs or soil on it...

7) Lastly, if you have any choice in the matter, try and get served by the oldest possible Customs person, ideally a man. If you are lucky enough to find a guy who is 64 years old with 40 years of experience, hey, he will probably know the rules pretty well and whip you through pretty quick. The worst possible outcome would be to be served by a 20-something female who has only been working there for a year or so, and immediately thinks of everything she was taught about permanent importations.

I hope the above information helps.

Michael
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  #3  
Old 11 May 2013
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See also these prior discussions of the same topic here on the HUBB:

temporary import to Canada

Entering Canada with a borrowed bike

Canada Customs

Clearance Costs at Canadian Destination

I especially like the suggestion to "take pictures of the bike to show how clean it is" that is contained in the post below - I think that is quite a good idea and might save you a lot of time.

Shipping to Canada

Here are some more historical discussions dealing with the Agriculture, bugs, and dirt issue:

Airfreight Europe to Canada

Shipping Crated vs. Uncrated

Importing to Canada (in this particular case, I met Bryan at the airport and assisted him in importing his bike. It was a reasonably trouble-free process, but once again, the Customs girl had great concerns about bugs and dirt).

Michael
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  #4  
Old 11 May 2013
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Thanks PanEuropean that's a really helpful post.

I should of also stated that l will be temp importing for the maximum amount of time which is 12 months as l will be in Canada on a international experience visa (working holiday) for a year before traveling down though the USA.
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  #5  
Old 12 May 2013
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I brought 2 bikes into Toronto in 2010, customs had no problems. The knew what to do. The only issue was that JC had delivered the bikes early and I was asked for $1400 to release them (JC paid it as it was their error).

Just collect the paper work from the receiving agent, take it to the customs office and they will do a dirt check (look through a hole in the side of the box). Pay the customs check fee and collect the bike
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  #6  
Old 12 May 2013
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Tatters:

Bruce P. raises an important point in his post directly above.

What you are paying to ship your bike covers only the transportation - it does not cover any storage in the warehouse at all, not even the first day of storage.

My experience is that the storage fees in the bonded warehouses average around $100 a day, so, do be sure to arrange your affairs so that you can arrive at the freight warehouse immediately, the same day the bike arrives, collect the papers, then head over to Customs (who will always be in a different location) to process the entry and get the moto released to you the same day it arrives.

Have a fair-sized wad of money with you to pay the storage fee, any 'surprise' port fees, etc. I suggest about $400, just to be on the safe side, although hopefully the costs at port of arrival won't exceed $200.

Michael
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  #7  
Old 13 May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PanEuropean View Post
Tatters:

Bruce P. raises an important point in his post directly above.

What you are paying to ship your bike covers only the transportation - it does not cover any storage in the warehouse at all, not even the first day of storage.

My experience is that the storage fees in the bonded warehouses average around $100 a day, so, do be sure to arrange your affairs so that you can arrive at the freight warehouse immediately, the same day the bike arrives, collect the papers, then head over to Customs (who will always be in a different location) to process the entry and get the moto released to you the same day it arrives.

Have a fair-sized wad of money with you to pay the storage fee, any 'surprise' port fees, etc. I suggest about $400, just to be on the safe side, although hopefully the costs at port of arrival won't exceed $200.

Michael
He just needs to get JC to clarify the "free" storage time, Toronto is 48 hours, other airports are 5 days.
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  #8  
Old 14 May 2013
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I'm arriving a day before the bike does and wont be leaving Halifax for a few more days so hopefully it arrives on the correct day. Will make sure I've got a descent amount of cash on me too for fee's. I stripped most of the bike down over the winter as part of a total overhaul with what ever fitted going though the dishwasher so the bike is spotless.



Thanks.
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  #9  
Old 14 May 2013
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We shipped from the UK to Montreal, two bikes via air Canada.
Customs were helpful and easy going. Think the fees were only $100ish.

They didn't even open the crates.

These guys are not Sceptics, Canadians want to help you.

Our only prob was we had to remove the crates off site to open them (Health and safety)

It will be easier than you think.
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  #10  
Old 19 Aug 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PanEuropean View Post
Hi Alex:

Canada Customs (and, to a lesser extent, Agriculture Canada) are not inherently difficult to deal with, and don't have any known policies that make things difficult for a person temporarily importing a bike into Canada, but:

It is critical that you keep in the top of your mind the awareness that it is very rare for any one Canada Customs official to be presented with a visitor temporarily importing a motorcycle - this means that the officer that you will be dealing with has probably never been confronted with such a temporary import before, and that raises two potential problems:

1) They won't know what to do.

2) They might, in good faith, think that certain restrictions (for example, those that are applicable to a PERMANENT importation of a motor vehicle) apply to a temporary importation for tourist purposes.

So, you will need to be be mentally very relaxed when you go through the customs process, and be ready to be patient, gracious, and calm if the Customs officer accidentally heads off down the wrong paperwork trail.

I have participated in numerous "entries to Canada" of motorcycles in the past - sometimes involving my own Canadian plated, bought in Canada moto coming back from Europe, and sometimes helping out European visitors who have brought their own moto over for a temporary visit. It's always a bit of a cumbersome experience, not because of the actual Canadian rules, but because of the unfamiliarity that the Customs officers have with temporary importations of foreign vehicles for tourist purposes.

To be fair to the Customs employees, you have to understand that here in Canada, lots and lots of citizens go to the USA, purchase a car or moto, then bring it back to Canada with the intent of permanently importing it. Thus, the Customs folks are very familiar with the process for permanent importation - and subsequent registration of the vehicle to use Canadian licence plates.

This means that there is a fairly high probability that the Customs officer you first deal with will (in good faith, but due to lack of knowledge and experience with temporary tourist imports) try to put you through the process of permanent importation, or raise objections to your entry because your bike does not conform to standards (such as lighting, emissions, etc.) that it would have to conform to for permanent importation. These requirements do not apply to a temporary importation for tourist purposes.

So, having said all of that, here is a checklist of things you can do to facilitate the process, and to assist you in (gently and diplomatically) explaining the temporary importation process to the Customs officer if the need arises:

1) Make sure that you can easily and convincingly show to the Customs person evidence that you intend to only visit Canada on a temporary basis. This could include a copy of a return air ticket for yourself, correspondence (not necessarily official) with the shipping company discussing the plans to return the moto to wherever it came from at the end of your visit, some kind of route plan for your vacation, etc.

2) Do be sure to have ample evidence that the motorcycle is properly registered in your home country, and ample evidence that it belongs to you. This could include whatever kind of registration document your government issues (hopefully one that includes the licence plate number), your original receipt for purchasing the motorcycle, etc. It might be a good idea to make up a couple of 'photocopy packs' of these documents, so you can give a set of photocopies to the Customs official if necessary.

3) For sure, have the original copy of the Canadian insurance document available. This is referred to in Canada as a 'pink slip' (because it is pink). Be aware that in the USA, the colloquial term 'pink slip' refers to the registration of the vehicle (as in "we raced for pink slips, and I lost, so now I am riding a bicycle"), but in Canada, 'pink slip' means the Canadian Insurance Document.

It might be helpful for you to point out to the Customs person that your Canadian insurance is only good for 3 months, or 6 months, or whatever, because you only intend to stay in the country 3 months, or 6 months, etc. In other words, make sure that the insurance document is congruent with the plans you talk about that I mentioned in point 1) above.

4) Be sure that your moto has one of those white oval stickers on the back that identifies your country of registration, in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. Strictly speaking, if you have a new European style licence plate with the blue band on the left end, you don't need one, but don't assume that the Canada customs people will know this.

5) Be sure you have an International Driver Permit. Once again, this is primarily to be able to convince the Customs people that you are a bona-fide tourist. Strictly speaking, the Customs people should not need to ask to see your driver licence (it's the moto that is the issue, not you), but again, the more you can do to show them that you are a visitor, a tourist, the easier the process will be.

6) It is possible that the Customs person will say that they need to call an Agriculture inspector to look at the moto to see if there are any bugs on it, or any soil on it, etc. Unfortunately, it costs about $100+ to have this done, and it also sometimes delays the process by a day (resulting in storage charges in the air freight hall). If you ask the Customs person to inspect the bike themselves, they might reply by saying "I don't have the qualifications to identify bugs or soil". That is fair, but you should then respond "I respect that, I am just asking you to look at it to determine if there actually is any evidence of bugs or soil on the bike. If you find any bugs or soil, sure, let's call an agricultural person. But if you don't see any bugs or soil anywhere, then I think you might agree to release the bike without an agricultural inspection."

The Customs people are generally pretty reasonable, and if you put your request to them that way, they will probably see it as a way of fulfilling their obligations without causing you excessive inconvenience (and expense). Just be sure the damn motorcycle doesn't have any bugs or soil on it...

7) Lastly, if you have any choice in the matter, try and get served by the oldest possible Customs person, ideally a man. If you are lucky enough to find a guy who is 64 years old with 40 years of experience, hey, he will probably know the rules pretty well and whip you through pretty quick. The worst possible outcome would be to be served by a 20-something female who has only been working there for a year or so, and immediately thinks of everything she was taught about permanent importations.

I hope the above information helps.

Michael
Michael

A very comprehensive answer although as you point out, so much depends on the individual Customs official. For instance with (4) my bike had, and still has no GB sticker. Neither did I get an International Drivers Permit (5).

I've transported my bike (like yours, a Pan) twice to America, once by air to Vancouver - Air Transat organised by HC Travel - and once by sea to Newark with Wallenius Wilhelmsen Line. I'm not sure I'd do the sea crossing again as although the bike reached Newark pretty smartly, it took weeks and weeks to return, by which time the battery was flat. This turned out to be primarily a battery problem anyway and only fixed by replacing it.

The air shipping was pretty smooth although frustrating as the company as Gatwick took my entire collection of paperwork so upon arriving in Vancouver, I had no knowledge of who to contact and where to go to get the bike. One airport official even suggested the bike would be coming along shortly around the baggage carousel! Fortunately once at the overnight hotel, a browse through the telephone directory, the depot was located and a quick phone call revealed the bike was safely in their hands. Next day I had to get out to the depot, go to the customs to let them know, return to the depot, get back to the airport to locate 'Agriculture', return to the bike before it was finally released. On a baking hot day and in riding gear, not easy.

I am now contemplating returning to the east coast of Canada next summer and am wondering if anyone here has ever 'worked their passage' on a ship taking their bike with them? Maybe because of union rules, it's just out of the question. I am just thinking of ways to save money on the crossing.
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  #11  
Old 5 Sep 2013
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Hello all!

I am shipping the bike in a few days from Yokohama to Vancouver and this post has much of the information I was looking for. Thanks a lot.

There is still a couple of things I would like to ask since this will be my first shipping and I am still a bit confused.

Bike will depart Yokohama uncrated on a RoRo the 24th of september and will arrive at Vancouver the 12th of October.

First of all, do you think I would need to use a forwarder or can I handle the customs clearance process myself? For what I understand in previous posts, people do not use forwarders here, right?

Time is starting to be tight. Is there anything that I have to do in advance, before showing up in the port to pick up the bike? Any paperwork or any government agency that I should contact prior to shipment?

For what I read... it all seems pretty easy. Should I just stop worrying, confirm the shipment with the people in Japan, book my flight to Vancouver, enjoy Tokyo without the bike for a few days, fly to Vancouver and just show up the port the 12th of October with my documentation? Is this really that easy?

The bike is a 2010 BMW 1200GS, working fine and looking good.

Thanks!
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Old 5 Sep 2013
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We've got our bike on a ship heading for Vancouver which is due to arrive sept 11. It's been a long story but we are planning on picking it up ourselves, no agent. I think the only thing we need to arrange in advance is temp Canadian insurance. We've been told by the shipper that it'll take up to 5 days for it to be transferred from the port to the warehouse so we are fully expecting a whole lot of hoopla & delay. Will let y'all know how it goes!

Roro may be easier...ours was crated from Dili.
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