After two successful trips to the US and numerous people asking about the logistics involved, I’ve finally put pen to paper to try and give some tips, advice and contacts for shipping your bikes for the most fantastic trip across this immense country.
Know where you want to start!
I know this may sound ridiculous but it’s quite an important aspect when planning your trip. Based on where you want to start and end up will be dependant on the shipping routes you can use. What you want to do in between I’ll leave up to you but suffice to say it’s a BIG country and you will not be able to see everything you want. So pick your route carefully and make sure you include the places you really think are a “must”.
For both trips and our upcoming trip in 2014 Kevin and I have used a company based in Hull, Kingstown Shipping (All contact details are listed below). Stephen Shores is the go to man and very good he is too, as are all at Kingstown.
The bikes are shipped out of Southampton on a “roll off, roll on” a Wallenius Wilhelmsen vessel (www.2wglobal.com). Just like a big ferry really. Stephen and his team will be able to advise on all the paperwork required and help you complete these. The transit time is approximately 2 weeks. Steve advises against using a container as US Customs love these and will usually inspect them and this may well lead to delays. In 2012 we shipped 6 bikes via the roll on roll off method.
For us the time of arrival is very key as we need to be able to pick up the bikes from the destination port and get to the Raider Rally in Maggie Valley. There are several ports along the east coast that you can have your bike shipped into to including New York, Newark, Baltimore, Savannah and Brunswick Georgia. We have been into Brunswick twice and next year we will be going into Baltimore.
For the return journey we have had the bikes come back in a shared container. This keeps the costs down a bit but does mean a longer transit time. As it’s a “shared” container the bikes are kept at the shippers until they have a full container before shipping. Usually it’s between 6-8 weeks for the return coming back into Chatham Kent. We have returned via Oakland near San Francisco and Houston TX.
These port options are just what we have used in the past and I’m sure there are other options, which Steve can advise on. Approximate costs (based on 2012 prices) £1340 per bike shipping from Southampton to Brunswick GA and returning Houston TX to Chatham (Please don’t quote me on these!!!). Now this may sound a bit pricey but if you are seriously thinking of going to the US you are going to need at least 3 weeks if not 4 to pack it all in. Costs for hiring a bike, mainly Hardleys, over there are around £100-£120 per day, do the math!! Plus the added bonus of riding your own bike across the states makes it a no brainer.
I would advise getting in contact with Stephen as soon as you can. Although he won’t be able to give definite prices he can get the ball rolling for you.
Although this isn’t mandatory we have always taken this out, you just never know. Rachel Fowler at BJP Insurance is the contact for this. The insurance will also cover your bike for 7 days at the destination port. Costs approx £75 per bike. Rachel got us a great deal on insuring the 6 bikes under one policy therefore keeping the costs down. This can wait until nearer the shipping date.
SO SO Important……On our first trip we took the advice of Stephen Shores and paid a Custom Broker in the US to deal with the importation of the bikes. Glad we did, when we arrived at Brunswick GA to pick up our bikes, already knowing that our bikes had cleared customs, there were two Swedish guys there who had planned to go to Sturgis. Unfortunately they decided to do the customs etc themselves and had been at the port for a WEEK waiting for their bikes.
With this in mind I really recommend using a Custom Broker. Diane Miller at Fauna and Flora has been a great help on both our trips. I think she’s a closet biker myself. Now the forms for all this can be a bit daunting but Diane and all the team there can help you. Another form required is the EPA (Environment Protection Agency) clearance letter, which I have always done myself. This is relatively straightforward and needs to be done around 6 weeks before departure. There is no cost involved for this EPA Clearance but it is an essential document for importing into the states.
The cost for using a Custom House Broker is approximately $325 but worth it. There will also be a refundable deposit of $1000 per bike. This is returned once the bikes have been shipped out of the US
Again this is so important as Kevin found out in 2010. Leaving Denver CO midway through our trip in 2010 a pick up truck decided he didn’t like the lane he was in and pulled straight out in front of Kevin. Having no choice, Kev had to lay the Raider down and I only missed him by a few inches. Luckily no serious injuries but some very nasty road rash. The Raider however had over $4000 worth of damage. Having visited a Yamaha dealer the previous day the Raider was towed there and they got started on assessing the damage. Now bearing in mind this was a Saturday and bikes shops are closed on Mondays the Raider was assessed, parts ordered and replaced and we were back on our way Tuesday afternoon!!! You wouldn’t get it done that quick over here.
The only place we have found so far is a company called Fernet. They deal with the major insurance company, Dairyland. The forms are a bit confusing at first what with CDW, under insured cover, uninsured cover and various limits. We went for the mid price option which covered us well in 2010. Cost approx $270 per bike. Fernet also do Roadside assistance cover which cost around $40.
Just one word of warning regarding your own travel insurance, do check the policy carefully as a lot of the policies don’t actually cover you for riding a motorcycle over 125cc. The AA and Lloyds Bank were the only ones I found that had no limit on the engine size. Believe me you really need medical cover for travelling in the US.
When you get there.
Picking up your bikes at the port is relatively easy, compared to all the paperwork required before you go, but there are a couple of things you need to be aware of.
The port will charge a landing fee which is approx $100. In the past we have asked Fauna & Flora to pay this on our behalf and then add this to their customs fees.
You will need ID and paperwork to collect your bikes and you will have to be “escorted” by Port personnel. This costs $50 and needs to be paid in cash as cheques/credit cards aren’t accepted. Also the port is not open at weekends so factor that in to your schedule.
I hope this hasn’t put you off as it is really worthwhile. We are now planning our 3rd trip over and cannot wait. The US is such an incredible place to visit and you certainly can’t fit it all in in one trip. Staying away from most tourist traps and keeping to minor roads allows you to see the real America, not the one depicted by the TV shows and media over here. I think you’d be surprised.
Have fun y’all.
Kingstown Shipping Ltd
Ferry Berth, King George Dock
Hull HU9 5PS
Fauna & Flora Customhouse Brokerage Co Inc
152-31 135th Avenue
Jamaica, New York 11434+001 718 977 7700
BJP Insurance Brokers Ltd
Southgate House, Wellington Rd
Berks. RG40 2BJ