Exporting your bike
a salutary tale…
Cast your mind back – it’s 2010. The country is in recession, the UK roads are blocked with maniacs in cars, taxes are on the increase and it’s raining. “Why do we need to go back to 2010 for that”, you ask. Well, it’s germane to the story so please indulge me.
Once I had decided that I was off to the land of the hobbit and more sheep than you can shake a cabbage tree at, my next thought was “what to do with the Wildstar?”. Some quick research on the web (I was fairly pleased with myself for that!) revealed that, as in US, the XV1600 is labelled the Roadstar, so there was a chance that I could own the only Wildstar in the country. More research revealed that compared with the UK statistic of 2.5 cars per person, in New Zealand each settlement tends to club together to buy a car then draw straws to see who has it at the weekend (the same strategy is used for the village set of teeth). Combine that with the fact that 82.5% of all statistics are made up on the spot, and the germ of an idea began to form in my cider-addled mind.
So, the plan was to pack up the bike, stick it into a container then ship it to NZ, (where I would be waiting) to cruise up and down the empty roads that had been constructed to carry the Rugby World Cup hordes around all the “lovely scenery”. As you all know, “time spent on reconnaissance is never wasted” (Thanks, Dad and Carl von Clausewitz for that gem) so I took some 1-month holidays in NZ to see if it was all true – it was – sheep everywhere and… “lovely scenery”. So the plan became reality.
Book a shipping agent. There’s a great description at:
They make some really good points about cleanliness and the need for a bug-proof crate. The booking agent will tell you that to export a Wildstar costs around £1k. But they lie! There are many more folk involved who all want a cut, so read on…!
Paperwork. One of the big requirements is proof of ownership. I used a copy of the letter from the guy I bought the Wildstar from, but some may have difficulty getting this. You’ll also need copies of your V5 registration document, your driving licence and your passport. Finally, you’ll need to complete an “Unaccompanied Personal Baggage Declaration”: this is a 6-page document with loads of opportunities for errors but once successful, gets you your customs clearance.
Eventually, the shipping agent sends a guy down to Dorset to collect the bike. Now, despite the fact that you’re paying the guy to do this, he’s still not as careful as Bob Barber with a van. (I’ll have you know Bob has clocked up tens of thousands of miles with bikes in the back of his van as that’s his preferred way of attending rallies. And he never admitted to any damage!). But this contractor needs to make it look difficult. So my first mistake was to be at work in London on the day when the guy turned up in Dorset to collect the bike. The certificate to say “the bike is in perfect condition” was signed in a hand that looked suspiciously like the driver’s, and the bike was taken to Swindon for crating up.
The act of crating the bike is also a hugely specialised task and requires the bike to be bounced around a bit during the process. The crate containing the bike is then taken to Southampton for loading on to the designated ship for the journey to Christchurch port. Clearly this is some way so you shouldn’t be surprised that it takes about 10 weeks of enduring storms, repelling Somali pirates and satisfying various government officials that all is in order.
So finally, your pride and joy reaches the distant shores and you get an alert by e-mail that is slightly misleading in its optimism. There’s more to do.
Because this is New Zealand and we’re clean and green (and don’t get me started on the local interpretation of “recycling”), the Bio-security folk at Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) have to inspect the crate and contents in case you have inadvertently imported a greenfly or the spore from a fool’s webcap. All of this care and attention costs of course, so you can expect to see further invoices for their efforts.
Naturally, I had heard of this fastidious attention to cleanliness so I had opted for a full disinfect before the bike left Blighty. Hence the bill for £35 whilst still in Swindon. So the MAF inspection passed without event – just another bill!
The fun doesn’t stop there either. Once you have satisfied every individual in officialdom that you want to ride a bike that is safe, clean and wholesome, you then need to get it on the road.
First stop – the brake test. Of course, there must be loads of folk who pay to transfer their bike to the other side of the world then ride it without brakes. It’s part of the fun isn’t it? So, for $75 dollars, you can have a youth opportunities apprentice confirm that the brakes work. Why is this, are NZ drivers even more unpredictable than everywhere else in the world?
Before we can register the bike locally, it is necessary to pass the Vehicle Identification Number test. The VIN test is like a glorified MoT and is an expensive way of confirming that you didn’t go to all this expense to import a piece of junk that will clutter a scrap yard somewhere. When you pass this inspection (surprise, surprise!) you are qualified to register the bike (at last).
Registration in NZ is not cheap either but the good news is – insurance is optional!! I kid you not. Oh – and there are 15 year olds driving 4-wheel-drives around on the main roads, so I recommend you insure!
Having done all that, you will be about £2,000 lighter, but very happy, as now the fun begins!! Riding in New Zealand is second to none. The roads are great and empty and the people are bike-friendly. And once you have seen everywhere in South Island and need something else, you can get on a ferry to North Island and ride all over there too!
All the very best to you all in Scrumpyland.
Phil 'The Lyre' Cox