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Cargo Ship at the Port


What You Have to Know About Sea Freight? Do not ship your motorcycle (vehicle) if you need it on a specific date at a specific place.  No one in the world can guarantee an on-time arrival by sea.  There are too many variables and ultimately the one who loses is you. I always recommend if time is limited, let’s say a 3-to-8-week trip, to send the bike 2-3 months earlier than you need it.  If you do not have this much lead time, you can fly the vehicle as the dates are times are much more accurate – check out our section on Air Freight.  Sending home at the end of the trip by sea freight makes more sense when you are not rushed for a specific time. 


At Knopftours, we ship from several global locations. Our most popular sea option arrives at the end of April, at our place. We recommend arriving in May and your vehicle will have free storage until the end of May.  We are happy to also take care of shipping and clearing customs for your personal complete container.

How Does it Work Receiving a Container?  If you send your own container from your port to Knopftours, we will be the consignee.  The best port to send to is Antwerp.  When it arrives, the shipping line will notify us and provide a T1 inbound paper.  Then, the entire container is transported by truck to Heidelberg Customs.  Bringing your vehicle to Europe, as a tourist, it will need to have valid Green Card insurance with a valid date from the first day you use your vehicle (see Green Card section). As your representative for shipping, only Knopftours Green Card insurance is accepted for Customs. We then transport your bike to our location and store it ready for your arrival.  We provide two weeks of free storage after offloading.


What are the Costs Involved?  There are several layers of costs, which can vary depending on various factors.  We provide you with a multi-level price estimate.  The first-level price is for shipment from your home country to the seaport destination.  Payment of the first level is required prior to your vehicle leaving for sea.  Upon arrival in Europe, there are offloading charges, inspection fees, port holding fees (you usually have 4-5 free days), transport to Heidelberg, and customs clearance charges.  The offloading fee can be up to 300 Euros per bike. The document fee can, again, be up to 300 Euro per bike.  Note that if you need a broker when the vehicle reaches Germany, they may charge you an additional fee of around 30% for security tax.

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Why am I able to get a lower quote from others?  So, getting a quote from a sea freight provider for shipping, for example, from Los Angeles to Frankfurt for $750 US will usually turn out in the end to be about $1500 to $1600 US - which is a more realistic cost.  But know you are also responsible for additional costs if there are additional requirements.  For instance, Los Angeles Customs can inspect the container and you will have to pay a part of the holding and inspection of the container – it can be around $200 – $500. This surcharge can happen in both countries – the United States and Germany. It is not every container, but you can expect it to happen with about 1 out of 10 containers. We are often asked why Knopftours quotes more than others It's because we include all costs so you know what your total will be.  In 2020, we priced a shipment at $1445 US, including all the additional costs in this quote.  This covers everything from the time you drop it off in Orlando until the time you pick it up in Germany at our place in Heidelberg.  The only extra is the transport insurance which is 1% of the value of the bike and the contents you send with it.  Sometimes, depending on the time of year and fluctuations in air travel prices, it may actually be cheaper to fly a bike from Germany as the price is the same and the transportation is much quicker. Please ask us about this as the prices on air transportation change daily depending on the airlines.

How Do I Prepare the Battery and Gasoline for Sea Freight?  There is a worldwide requirement at all ports for a vehicle to be delivered with the battery disconnected.  One terminal disconnected and insulated from contact is the standard.  No lights or alarms should be working. Your gasoline should be on reserve and only have the minimum that you can drive to the next gas station upon arrival.  Please note that it is your responsibility to disconnect the battery and place the fuel on reserve. If this is not followed and it is on a ship or airline, the fines are huge and you are responsible for this cost.  If you receive advice otherwise, follow my advice and make sure the battery is disconnected and insulated with tape so there is no possibility of an accidental battery connection.  Also, if the battery is more than three years old, get a new one before you ship. 


Do I Lock the Bike? All locks should be in the unlocked position so that all access points are accessible and unlocked because Customs can make a check of what the contents are.  If your panniers are locked, then Customs can decide to not allow your bike to move and this will cost you storage money, as well.  We always recommend a set of keys are zip-tied to the handlebar to help ensure keys are with the bike when you arrive.

Cleaning a Motorcycle

What About Luggage and Other Items?  You can send with us all you need for the trip, but it is not feasible for us to be responsible for it.  However, I have to say that in 28 years there has never been anything missing when we ship things.  If you have any new items, please make sure to unpack these from the original, new, packaging so they do not appear new as you will pay tax in Germany of 28% plus the required Customs forms of 100 to 300 Euros.  On the bike, have a name tag (or masking tape with your name written with a permanent marker on all pieces of luggage, top case, duffel bag, windshield (if it is removed), etc.  No loose items like boots or helmets. If your windshield is removed, pack it securely in bubble wrap, secure it to the seat, and make sure your name is on it.


What is Legally Excluded from Sea Freight and Air Freight?  All medicines, pills, or any drugs in any form – bad idea!  Any weapons, or parts of weapons, or ammunition (i.e., bullets).  Any alcohol. Extra gasoline except what is in the reserve tank of the motorcycle.  Any spray can, pressurized gases, propane, and cookstove fuels.  Any new items – if it is new, you need to pay duty on it and this is up to 28%, plus the Customs paperwork fees. Make sure to remove all tags, packaging, prices, etc., to make certain it does not have the brand-new look to avoid problems with Customs. Whatever is included in transporting your bike, we will need a complete list of all contents, with your name, address, and phone number as you will are legally responsible for the contents on your bike.

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