The Steps for Shipping a Motorcycle Overseas

Components And Features

Driving a motorcycle in an exotic destination is a dream come true. You get to explore far-away lands or show off your two-wheeler at an international festival. Getting there is the only issue, but we’re here to help you solve the problem.

Coming up is a step-by-step guide on shipping a motorcycle overseas.

How to Ship Motorcycle Overseas

Transporting motorcycles can be daunting, especially if it’s your first time. For that reason, you’re probably wondering: “How are motorcycles shipped overseas safely and efficiently?” There are several ways to ensure a smooth service. Here’s what your relocation should take into consideration.

Decide Between Transporting Motorcycle by Plane or by Ship

The first decision you need to make is to choose the transport vessel. There are two primary options: sea freight and air freight. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of both.

Air Freight Pro #1 – Speed

If you want to ship your motorcycle fast, hiring an air carrier is your best option. Most shipments arrive within one to two weeks. On average, ocean transportation takes between eight and 10 weeks with door-to-door providers.

Air Freight Pro #2 – Destination Flexibility

Another critical aspect of your motorcycle freight is port accessibility. You want the departure and destination ports to be accessible to speed up the service.

Air transport is much better in this regard. The ports are often inland, making them easily reachable.

In contrast, shipping your bike by ocean typically requires you to take your bike to a warehouse. Unfortunately, the closest one could be hundreds of miles from your home.  

Sea Freight Pro #1 – Affordability

The main reason motorists rely on sea freight is the lower price. It’s hard to compete with ocean carriers if budget is your priority. Just keep in mind that this method is slower, so there’s a higher risk of not meeting deadlines for bike shows or events.

Sea Freight Pro #2 – Wide Selection of Containers

Sea freight motorcycle transportation companies offer multiple kinds of containers. For instance, they can haul your bike overseas in consolidated containers. These units fit multiple vehicles to split the price. It’s a great way to save money since you only need to pay for the space your two-wheeler occupies.

Alternatively, you can have your motorcycle shipped in an exclusive container. It’s a middle ground solution between consolidated sea freight and air freight. The shipments have a tighter schedule, which is why they cost more than standard ocean transportation.

How to Ship Motorcycle Overseas

Select the Type of Transport

Before scheduling your shipping, you need to know how to ship a motorcycle using standard methods.

Container Shipping Motorcycle Overseas

Hauling your motorcycle overseas in a container is an affordable way to transport multiple vehicles at once. Your carrier performs the job by securing your two-wheeler inside special containers with tie-downs and straps. This way, the bike stays put during transit.

Container shipping is cost-effective because you can split the cost with multiple customers. Many other bikers may have scheduled their motorcycle freight at the same time, allowing you to save money.

Crated Transportation

Hauling your bike overseas in a crate is another inexpensive method. It’s also highly secure, as your carrier fastens the motorcycle tightly onto robust crates. It’s enclosed securely before being placed on pallets prior to transport. That’s why this form of transport is also known as palletized shipping.

Door-to-Door Shipment

You’d hardly associate overseas motorcycle transportation with door-to-door services, but it is an option. It’s more convenient than some other methods and is perfect for delivering classic, high-end, and rare bikes. However, it’s also unaffordable for many drivers.

Port-to-Port Transportation

Since door-to-door motorcycle freight can burn a hole in your pocket, you might need something cheaper. That’s where port-to-port relocation comes in.

As the name suggests, it requires you to deliver your motorcycle to the designated shipping port. The provider collects your vehicle and hauls it to its destination.

Shipping your bike this way takes more time, but it’s an excellent budget-friendly option.

Roll-On, Roll-Off Shipping

Roll-on, roll-off services are popular for hauling heavy equipment or motorcycles. The carrier drives your bike onto a ship and secures it with skids, tie-downs, or another built-in mechanism. They take the bike to the port closest to your drop-off point and use overland carriers to relocate the two-wheeler to the final destination.


UPS Motorcycle Shipping

You can also ship your motorbike with UPS. It’s another type of freight shipping, so you’ll need to pack and wrap your two-wheeler on your own.

Choose the Most Suitable Price Scheme to Ship Motorcycle

Choose the Most Suitable Price Scheme to Ship Motorcycle

The next step is to find an overseas carrier that sticks to your budget. This is essential, as you don’t want to be hit with hidden costs. As it stands, you’ll need to cover gas and many other expenses, all of which can be hefty.

The price of hauling your motorcycle overseas varies greatly, depending on your carrier and other important factors. Also, you probably need international transport, which is why the cost fluctuates more significantly than domestic quotes.

The biggest factor influencing the price is the distance. For instance, shipping a motorcycle to China from the U.S. usually costs more than hauling the bike to Canada. Every company might have special flat distance rates based on the country or continent in question.

However, your means of transport still plays a pivotal role. Remember – you can’t ship your vehicle via trailers. You’ll need to schedule air or ocean freight, both of which are much more expensive.

Here are a few more factors that impact the price:

  • Make and model of the motorcycle (transporting classic or high-end bikes costs more than hauling regular two-wheelers)
  • Type of crate or container
  • Dimensions of the motorcycle
  • Import duties (countries on the same continent may not have the same fees)
  • Value-added tax (VAT)

A carrier should consider all these to come up with a quote. Don’t accept bargains straight off the bat. Dishonest providers regularly use them to attract first-time customers. They offer low rates, but they may also have hidden expenses that can skyrocket the price.

Understand the specifics of your quote before accepting an offer to avoid scams.

Collect Your Paperwork

Shipping a motorcycle overseas involves more paperwork than domestic relocations. You need many documents to clear the bike at U.S. customs and the customs of the destination country.

Some of the documents you may need include:

  • Title
  • Photo ID
  • Proof of insurance and ownership
  • Employee Identification Number (EIN) and certificate of release (if applicable)

Other papers will be necessary in special circumstances. For example, you might need to verify your bike’s year of manufacture, make, and model. If so, your carrier should notify you about the requirements.

Additionally, try to store your stamped import paperwork safely. It saves you a world of trouble when hauling your motorcycle back to the U.S. and relocating it overseas in the future.

Prepare Your Bike

The safe arrival of your motorcycle is in the hands of your carrier. That said, you can do many things to help ensure your ride arrives in good condition:

  • Remove grime and dirt from the tires and body.
  • Take pictures to document the condition of the motorcycle (in case the bike arrives with a ripped seat or scratched exterior and you need to file your insurance claim).
  • Tighten any loose connections to keep them from falling apart during transit.
  • Make sure your tank is around one-quarter full.
  • Unlock your steering wheel.
  • Deactivate any alarms before the carrier collects the bike.
  • Inflate your tires to help the transporter roll and load the two-wheeler more easily.

If your motorcycle isn’t operational, take it to a mechanic. See if they can resolve the issue in time for your shipment. If not, consult with your carrier. They might help you schedule repairs after delivery.

Obtain Your Insurance

Obtain Your Insurance

Shipping a motorcycle overseas is generally safer than transporting your bike in a trailer. Millions of containers and crates are relocated every year, and the vast majority of them reach their destinations unscathed.

However, you should still plan for any contingency. Containers can fall off vessels due to bad weather or get mishandled at ports, causing extensive damage to your bike. They might even catch fire if they’re transported with flammable goods.

The only way to avoid paying for damages is to obtain insurance. Ask your carrier if they provide a policy. They should be able to protect your two-wheeler from theft, vandalism, floods, hail, and falling objects.

If you obtain your insurance from your transporter, take note of the financial transaction. You should only pay with a debit or credit card to avoid scams. Plus, make sure the provider doesn’t charge more than authorized.

Crate Motorcycle

Your motorcycle is smaller than your car, so you might be tempted to crate it yourself before your provider picks it up. While you should prepare the two-wheeler on your own for overseas transport, crating it is a different prospect altogether. Don’t do it unless specifically instructed by your shipping company.

There are several reasons you should leave crating a motorcycle for shipping to a professional.

No Fines

Licensed shippers know the type of crates they can use in certain countries. Failure to adhere to this may require your company to re-crate the motorcycle at an additional cost.

Your motorcycle transportation carrier might not notice you’ve used improper wood either. As a result, you may incur fines once the bike arrives at its destination.

Knowing the Ins and Outs of How to Pack Motorcycle for Shipping

DIY crating is prone to error. If you’ve never stored a vehicle in a crate, the chances are you don’t know how to do it correctly. The consequences can be disastrous, ranging from scratches to a totaled vehicle.

In contrast, carriers are well-versed in shielding and strapping your bike to crates. They have all the tools and knowledge to shield the motorcycle during your overseas transport without putting the suspension under immense stress.

Understanding of Battery Issues

Your carrier may have limitations on the motorcycles you can ship overseas. Other than maximum dimensions, the battery is the most significant consideration.

In particular, Li-ion batteries are hazardous since they can explode or catch fire. Most countries pay special attention to bike batteries, so you might not clear customs without proper packaging and crating.

Furthermore, the Department of Transportation has strict rules on motorcycle freight that involves heavy-duty Li-ion batteries (over 100wh). If you have an electric bike, the battery may easily eclipse the threshold. Some providers may charge more for transporting these models.

You could encounter another problem if you opt for air freight – disassembly. Some cargo planes have stringent regulations for storing Li-ion batteries prior to transport. They may require you to disassemble the motorcycle and ship your battery separately.

An experienced shipping firm is familiar with all these requirements. Their experts need only take one look at your bike, and they’ll know how to prepare the battery for the transport. You might need to pay extra, but it’s better than having your vehicle repossessed at customs.

Advice on Shipping a Motorcycle With Other Vehicles

Most people don’t mind if their motorcycle shares a crate or platform with other vehicles. The service is usually faster and less expensive.

However, you might face some issues with this type of transportation. Namely, you might not clear customs in some countries unless you crate each two-wheeler separately.

You also risk harming your vehicle if the crate is overcrowded. The bikes may collide, increasing the risk of scratches or more serious damage.

A professional carrier knows the intricacies of shipping a motorbike to any country. They can advise you on the most suitable crating method.

Shipping a Motorcycle Overseas

Let Experts Take Care of the Rest

Once you’ve made all arrangements and your bike is loaded, you can leave your motorcycle in the hands of professionals. They’ll deliver it to the agreed location on schedule.

Since budget is one of your priorities, you’re probably wondering: “what is the cheapest way to ship a motorcycle?” The answer is simple – find an affordable transporter like Cheap Motorcycle Shipping. We can haul your bike to any destination around the globe without denting your budget. Call 888-230-9776 to receive an instant quote.