Brisbane, Australia to Auckland, N.Z.
1. General Criteria
The bikes are owned and registered in Australia (QLD) by an Australian resident. It is proposed to return to Australia within 12 months (at least not remain in New Zealand longer than 12 months). We are not obtaining a Carnet for cost reasons (they also expire after 12 months and there is a risk/ hassle in getting your deposit back). We are trying not to use a broker/ agent as they don’t seem to add value. We are using the roll-on, roll-off ferry to avoid the need for container or crate. The bikes must be operating/ ridable and safety certificate compliant.
2. Cost Details
The total cost to transport one bike from Brisbane to Auckland is $A748 for everything (door to door and on-road). There are a few extra costs not included for obvious reasons:
- Miscellaneous rides and parking (Brisbane Port to home, parking at Australian Customs etc) as they are not direct costs,
- Demurrage at Auckland (free for 4 days), but we elected to delay our flight as I had paying work to complete in Brisbane,
- Bike insurance in NZ – 3rd party fire and theft/ comprehensive (it is optional and would be part of running cost back in Australia anyway)
- Some costs are fixed (not charged per bike) such as escort fees and some inspections, so the cost could be a little more for a shipment of one bike only.
|2 Bikes||1 Bike|
|Shipping Agent||Shipping (BAF is $0)||$1,000.00||$500.00|
|Document fee AU end||$50.00||$25.00|
|Document fee NZ end||$50.00||$45.00||$22.50|
|Australian Customs||No charges (except parking fee)||$0.00||$0.00|
|Port of Brisbane||Escort fee||$110.00||$55.00|
|Total, departure end||$602.50|
|(Exclude Uber from port to home)|
|New Zealand Customs||Customs import fee & biosecurity levy||$50.00||$46.48||$23.24|
|Bank charge for intl transfer||$10.00||$5.00|
|Duty (15% GST) – refundable||$1,684.00||$1,600.31||$800.16|
|Projected duty refund||-$1,684.00||-$1,600.31||-$800.16|
|Ministry of Primary Industries||MPI – inspection/ release document||$39.78||$38.00||$19.00|
|Port of Auckland (C3 Ltd)||Escort fee||$50.00||$45.00||$22.50|
|Demurrage (2 days extra storage)||$87.22||$82.00||$41.00|
|Vehicle setup in NZ||VTNZ – Warrant of Fitness inspection||$118.00||$107.00||$53.50|
|VTNZ – Road user charges||$30.56||$27.00||$13.50|
|Insurance – bike/ 3rd party fire & theft|
|Not taken out (yet); (no ACC levy?)|
|Total, arrival end||$186.74|
|Total AU residence to NZ residence||$789.24|
|Total (Excluding demurrage)||$748.24|
3. Documents needed
Rego (you need to get one from QLD Dept of Transport & Main Roads – make sure it is the original, not a copy) – they no longer send them out. You need to keep it registered until after returning.
Sales receipt for your bike purchase (I have a dealer valuation but NZ procedures ask for evidence of the cost and date of purchase). This will affect the deposit you pay in NZ @ 15%. NZ Customs is quite prescriptive: they have a depreciation schedule (75% max but it gets to that after 4 years ownership).
Passport, licence (these also meet the 100 points of identification that you will need). You need to have scanned copies of most things for on-line applications and emailing.
(You can cancel your Australian motor vehicle insurance to save $’s, but they don’t seem to let you cancel/ postpone the CTP and keep the rego component only).
4. Shipping Company
(Herman Tran or Haley Davey) of Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, agents for Armacup. We shipped on the Lake Taupo vessel.
Phone: 1300 885 995
Dir : +61 (0) 3 86058004
Mon-Fri – 8am to 4pm (AEST).
Costs to Wallenius:
Ocean Freight: AUD 500 per unit
BAF: Currently zero, Origin PSC: Inclusive, Origin Doc Fee: AUD 50, Destination PSC: Inclusive, Destination Doc Fee: NZD 50
Make your booking with Wallenius. They will provide a quote, booking number and voyage.
For 29 November departure from Brisbane, they take the bikes between 21st and 24th November. ETA Auckland 6 December. They sent out the following forms on 16 November:
- Export Receival Advice (ERA), #1
- Cargo marking sheet,
- Certificate of Used Mobile Machinery, #1 and
- Forwarding Instruction #1.
(#1: these also were collected as hard copy by R&D at the AAT terminal at the Port of Brisbane).
Just fill them all in and return them by email. You will need:
- Weight of loaded bikes,
- Dimensions of bikes,
- Address and phone number in New Zealand (consignee): I used my name and a relation’s address/ phone.
I am not sure why Wallenius wanted them emailed back because I printed them off and had to give them to AAT at R&D (receival & delivery) with the bikes at the Port of Brisbane.
I always print hard copy as well as bring soft copies of EVERYTHING on my laptop.
They say not to have more than ¼ tank of fuel. Obviously, the battery will stay connected. They say not to include personal items with the bike (or if you do then they should be declared). I read on blogs that others packed the panniers, and nothing was ever said. Personally, I would not push my luck with loosely strapped helmets, bags etc so we just had the 3 panniers and the front saddle bags filled with normal motorcycle riding gear, tools, accessories and said nothing to the shipper (but declare it in NZ). Obviously, the bikes have to be clean enough to get through NZ biosecurity. A spray-wash and hand detail is sufficient: no need to pull anything apart, but make sure you clean under the mud-guards, the radiator, underneath and lift off the seat. Didn’t bother cleaning air-filters or pulling off the tank or taking off sprocket cover or bash plate or anything like that.
5. Australian Customs
We do not have Carnets. So the shipping company need an EDN (Export Declaration Number). A broker can do this for you, or you can do it yourself over the Customs Counter.
You need to access the ICS (Integrated Cargo System), which brokers can do. But I just rocked up to the Customs counter and they did it there for me (you need 100 points of ID and it is best to go when they are quiet as they prefer you to use a broker as it saves the staff having to do the work – BE POLITE). Monday after lunch was good.
20 – 22 The Circuit,
Skygate, Brisbane Airport
Counter hours: 8:30 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday
Telephone: 1300 558 287
Before you get there, download and fill out the form: Export Declaration Form B597. There are lot of weird definitions & government speak here, but a good guideline is attached on what they all are. Once they setup the ICS they can sort out your EDN. There is something on the Export Declaration that asks for a CCID (Customs Client Identifier) – this comes when you get the ICS access.
They emailed me the EDN the next morning. No cost for anything. (On the ERA this is called an ECN – same thing!). Print & keep with you.
6. Brisbane Shipping Terminal
So now email the EDN to the shipper. I also attached scanned copies of my Rego. They then emailed me an invoice for the shipping and documentation and a draft Bill of Lading for me to check.
The process at the terminal:
- Ride to Port of Brisbane (see the instructions from Wallenius) & arrive at R&D building,
- They will collect hard copies of the forms you filled out for Wallenius and now have printed copies with you: (Forwarding Instruction, Export Receival Advice (ERA), Certificate of Used Mobile Machinery, and Forwarding Instruction,
- They will sight your EDN (also referred to as an ECN!),
- They will label your bike,
- You need to do a 45-minute induction at the security gate as they can’t drive your bike into the operations area,
- Pay an escort fee of $110 in the admin building,
- I rode both bikes onto the wharf: 1 at a time to save Lee another 45 mins induction & parked them undercover,
- The escort drove me back to the street,
- Uber home.
I think they issued “an authority to deal with the goods for export.” – not sure/ doesn’t matter.
Pay the invoice to the shipper. They issue (email to you) the Final Bill of Lading when:
- Bikes are loaded on board, and
- Invoice is paid.
The shipper (their NZ agent) will contact you for arrival documents. They need to send the Notice of Arrival to NZ Customs. They will ask for your NZ Broker details. I don’t have one and luckily I already had my Client Code from NZ Customs (see below). I just gave them that and they did their thing (I presume NZ Customs matches the Notice of Arrival with the Bill of Lading & declaration?).
Total costs in Australia
Summarising, for 2 bikes:
- Wallenius, shipping and document fees for both ends: $A 1,094,
- Australian Customs (for the EDN); $0 (just a small carparking fee),
- Carnet, broker etc: $0,
- Escort at shipping terminal: $110,
- Other: (Uber home or phone a friend).
7. Importing into New Zealand
While the bikes are in transit, setup the NZ Customs prior to your arrival in NZ.
A summary of the process is:
- Obtain Client Registration with NZ Customs (you are now the freight broker), NZCS 224 – they issue a Code number to you,
- Wait for Bill of Lading & shipping invoice,
- Email documentation to NZ customs to get your Temporary Importation Permit (TIE): (instead of a Carnet),
- This includes Form NZCS 218 Unaccompanied Personal Baggage Declaration (your bikes & pannier contents),
- Customs will also setup their systems to make arrival easier (including taking your money – International transfers take a few business days so it’s good to get this done now while the ship is at sea),
- They then issue you with an Import Delivery Order (instead of a Carnet),
- Download form MR2C from the NZ Transport Agency “Notice of Temporary Vehicle Import by Overseas Visitor”. It asks for either your Carnet or your Import Delivery Order.
Fly to Auckland to process & receive the bikes.
- Go to the stevedores (C3Ltd) and hand over your paperwork, pay any demurrage (storage if on the wharf more than 4 days),
- They will arrange an escort – cost $50,
- Ride the bikes from the wharf bonded area and out the gate,
- Ride to an Entry Certifier (VINZ, VTNZ): lodge the MR2C, obtain a Warrant of Fitness, pay the Road User Charge.
New Zealand Customs – Before you arrive
As above, but here is the detail! You need to arrange a Temporary Import Entry (TIE) for the bikes. Get it going before the bikes land (it takes a week).
Without the broker, you need to process through a Trade Single Window. To access this, you need a “Client Registration”: download the form NZCS 224 Client Registration Application (apply as an individual). You will need a scanned copy of passport and email to email@example.com (this is all on the form). They issued our Client Code in 48 hours by email.
Then you can setup with NZ Customs in advance. Download form NZCS 218 Unaccompanied Personal Baggage Declaration. (A lot is explained in NZ Customs Fact Sheet #29, Advice on Private Motor Vehicle Imports).
You will need to attach with the declaration:
- Bill of Lading,
- Photo ID (passport),
- Purchase documents for the bikes AND the freight invoice – this is the 15% deposit!
- List of any other contents (the stuff in your panniers),
- Your Client Code.
Email this to firstname.lastname@example.org. They will then send you two invoices:
- Deposit of 15% (refundable) – for us, this was $NZ1,684 for 2 bikes,
- (Note: the refundable deposit for the Carnets was $A1,000 as an alternative plus the cost of the Carnets of $1,800),
- Customs fee (Import fee $NZ30 plus biosecurity levy $NZ20) = $NZ50 for 2 bikes.
The deposit is refundable on re-export if within 12 months of arrival.
Pay these separately. When they receive the $’s in their account, they will email an Import Delivery Order (IDO).
Download Form MR2C: Notice of Temporary Vehicle Import and attach the IDO. You also need identification (licence or passport) and ORIGINAL rego. This is needed when you arrive at VTNZ.
Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) will inspect the bikes for biosecurity. They did this on arrival without my knowledge – they just sent me an email to say they had been cleared and once I paid the $40 over the phone using my credit card they emailed the Biosecurity Release Certificate. We later found that they had gone through the panniers and tool holders.
Extracting the bikes in New Zealand
Because I had done everything on-line, email and phone while in Aussie, there was nothing to do in Auckland Port so it took less than an hour to ride off. We just handed over our documents and paid a wharf escort fee of $50 for both of us. Because we delayed our flight to NZ (I had paying work with a client) the bikes were on the wharf 6 days, so we also had to pay a demurrage charge of $87 in total for 2 bikes for 2 days. We started them up from the bonded area and were escorted out of the gate. My sister had driven us to the Port and managed to park for free in the C3 Ltd customer carpark!
NZ Vehicle Registration, Warrant of Fitness & ACC levy
We rode to Mt Wellington (VTNZ in downtown Auckland does not do Entry Certification). Hand over MR2C with the attachments (they do not have this form at the depot). They do the final 3 things here:
- VTNZ records the details of the bikes on the Motor Vehicle Register with the NZTA (this is presumably so they know where to send the speeding tickets!!!),
- Pay a Road User Charge (this seems to be the rego),
- Obtain a Warrant of Fitness – their mechanics inspect the bikes for a fee.
VTNZ will put two stickers on your bike – a WOF and a Registration sticker (with expiry dates).
Use the Queensland registration & plates (keep it current and make sure the Rego is the original). We don’t seem to have paid the Accident Compensation Corporation levy (this is equivalent to Aussie’s CTP insurance).
There is a fact sheet Form 29 covering the Warrant of Fitness.
Cost of RUC (road user charge) – $14. Cost of WOF inspection: $54.
(Note – Lee failed the WOF due to a worn front wheel bearing. So they let us drive to a bike shop, have a new one fitted and return to any VTNZ branch to have it signed off in their central computer).
Vehicle Testing New Zealand (VTNZ)
5 Sylvia Park Road,
(Alternative – VINZ, AA etc)
Vehicle Insurance in NZ
Not compulsory. But it might be a good idea to get at least 3rd party in case you hit an expensive car: that also covers theft (and maybe when the at-fault party is uninsured?).
8. Departing New Zealand
Cancel the NZ registration using Form MR15 (available from the above Entry Certifiers). I did this at VTNZ near Auckland airport – $18 for both bikes.
Once back in Australia, I emailed NZ Customs Service to get my 15% cash deposit back. I attached:
- Airways Bill of Lading
- Import Delivery Order (when they were brought into NZ)
- Customs Delivery Order (for export)
- Receipt from NZ Customs of the deposit paid.
- And stated that I had cancelled the NZ Registration.
- I gave them bank account details (a New Zealand account) and they say it takes 6 weeks to process! After that time, I had not been paid, only to find out that they had posted a cheque to the NZ address I registered the bikes under! Luckily it was my brother and he was able to deposit the cheque for me into my NZ bank account.
9. Returning to Australia
As stated, we did not go with the Carnets as they were too expensive, and it took too long to have the deposits refunded. So we applied for a Vehicle Import Approval (VIA) as we did back in 2016. But the process seems to have changed a bit. Firstly they were quicker getting back to us and this time they did not have a dyslexic staff person cocking up the VIN. They still keep the $50 application fee and then proceed to tell you that you “may not need separate importation approval” but must meet certain regulations regarding standards and plating. Don’t you love our government? I believe you still need this advice form.
The process once we were advised of the arrival of the bikes at Brisbane Airport was as follows.
We rocked up to Customs Counter at Skygate near Brisbane Airport but they refused to do the entry and told us to bugger off and find a broker. We should have engaged one back in New Zealand and could have shopped around and given them some notice so they could set things up.
This was Friday. We called Australian Customs Professionals at Eagle farm and drove to their yard and they processed the import online. They arranged for us to proceed to the Qantas freight terminal on Qantas Drive for Monday. Unfortunately the guy who represented us chucked a sickie on Monday, so the process was not well managed. I paid their fee online in the morning and then went out to the airport. They booked an inspection with quarantine who liked the clean bike and spent about 15 minutes checking both bikes and chatting about riding motorbikes for 5 minutes. But the standard fee only covers 15 minutes so the prick then charged us an extra $50 for his chatting time. But now Customs would not release the bikes. The freight broker would not do the final entry until he could see that our online payment had gone through. What a lot of mistrust and what amounts to blackmail and overcharging. Of the 41 countries we have taken our bikes across the border, Australia has to be the worst by far for rorts, self-interest, bureaucracy and greed, despite serious contenders such as Iran, China, Turkmenistan and the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. There is a serious issue with the workings of government and service providers sucking on the teats of the red tape.
Finally, the import entry was completed and Qantas airline cargo forklifted the bikes (on a pallet) to the carpark level of the loading dock. Not before hitting us up for $370 for handling. I unstrapped them, reconnected the battery, clipped on the panniers, gave them the packing materials and rode out.
The total cost of airfreight is in the following table (I discuss the options on page 1, as this may not be the cheapest way to get your bikes back).
So what we thought would cost $1,589 plus some nominal customs and quarantine charges, ended up at $2,139 (+ VIA of $50) by the time every hanger-on had their ticket clipped.
Freight NZ to Australia
Handling, labelling & fees
Total, departure end
Australian Customs & Border Protection
Vehicle Import Approval (w/o Carnet)
Airline documentation fee
Cargo management re-engineering
Australian Customs & Border Protection
Quarantine & declaration processing fees
Quarantine fee – extra time
Qantas terminal fee
Total, arrival end
Total NZ airport to Brisbane
9. Returning to Australia
On a previous trip, we airfreighted our bikes back from Santiago, Chile to Brisbane using LAN Airlines (code-shared with Qantas). Our Carnet’s had expired as we were away for 13 months. I can recount the process here. There was one issue in that we thought the whole freight was covered, but I think LAN took the bikes to Sydney and Qantas trans-shipped to Brisbane. Then Qantas stung us with some airport handling costs at Brisbane that we were not quite expecting.
Try the following shippers:
- Wallenius NZ
- Oceanbridge (already quoted Lee),
- McCullough Logistics,
- Willship International,
- Famous Pacific Shipping.
Without a Carnet, you will need to apply for a Vehicle Importation Approval (VIA). You can apply on-line and upload all the documents. They say that it can take 20 business days (4 weeks plus public holidays!!!). And if they stuff up the VIN or engine numbers they don’t give a shit and will drag it out further. They also will not issue it electronically – they need somewhere to post it to (like a tent on Molesworth Station?). They need a whole lot of documents, including a photo of the VIN sticker on your frame. And the charge is $50 per bike.
In Brisbane, I am yet to work out how to do it myself. Last time (at the airport) I used a broker who was pretty good.
I forget the process, but it went something like this:
- With the shipping documents, rocked up to Customs Counter at Skygate when they opened in the morning. Did something there and maybe some paper work and paid something?
- Drove to the broker who processed the import online (using the VIA),
- Booked an inspection with biosecurity (nearly had to wait over a whole weekend, but they ended up fitting us in that same afternoon). Friendly and they liked the clean bike and only spent about 5 minutes checking it,
- Airline cargo forklifted the bike (on a pallet) to the carpark level of the loading dock,
- I unstrapped it, reconnected the battery, clipped on the panniers, gave them the packing and rode on out at about 4pm same day.
This was at the airport (not the sea freight terminal).
What we paid in Santiago was supposed to cover everything. The surprise from Qantas freight at Brisbane was (for 2 bikes):
- Import document fee: $52-80, plus
- International terminal fee (loose) $340-03
Australian Customs: bike inspection fee $50 + Documentation fee $30 = $80 (2 bikes)
Broker, Cooltainers total $215. ($83 govt lodgement fee EEP, plus $132 for broker charge). (For $132 for both bikes, it is not a big deal to use a broker). I don’t think Cooltainers are still operating.
The Darien Gap
We crossed the Gap from Panama to Colombia in January, 2016. At the time there was no ferry service and the port captain at Cartagena had stopped motorcycles being unloaded from sailboats for the “time being” (we assumed unsettled weather at this time of year) – so we flew our bikes. We drove out to the cargo terminal at Panama and got a quote from Girag for USD$1068 each bike. Servi-Karga (upstairs in the building next to DHL) quoted USD$1500-$1600 for two bikes so we came back the next day and helped Servi-Karga pack them ready for shipping.
For both bikes the price came to USD$1617.74 – the guys at Servi-Karga were very thorough and assured us the bikes would arrive in Colombia at 5am the next morning – and sure enough, they did!
We fronted at the DHL office in the Cargo Terminal in Bogota – paid an additional USD$55 for the two bikes – spent several hours at the Aduana (Customs) getting more forms filled out – then returned to DHL and they released the bikes.
The whole process was really quite simple – no prior emails or phone calls – just front up at the cargo terminal in Panama. Copies of documents were not essential as they were happy to do them as required. Viva Colombia offered very cheap seats for passengers from Panama to Bogota. We didn’t know about them until after we’d booked with Avianca (at twice the price)!
N09.07381 W79.39034: Hotel Express Inn (in walking distance of Tocumen Airport, Panama) USD$50/night/2 persons.
N09.09702 W79.37508: Cargo Terminal turnoff coming from Panama City (very small sign showing turnoff to the right)
We tried at Bogota Cargo Terminal and at another agency uptown to get SOAT insurance – and for reasons unknown, once they got to putting in the number plate details (la plaqua) it wouldn’t allow us to proceed. We decided to use our Panama seguro paperwork (nothing on the printout indicated it was from Panama!).
Our tanks were just over “reserve” level, we unscrewed our mirrors and disconnected the batteries. Helmets, jackets and boots could be packed around the bikes.
Each bike was weighed and measured for the Waybill and pricing.
Leaving the DHL dock at Bogota in front of all the staff!