A full 15 days it has taken me – for something I provisioned 2 days… clearing my motorbike from Valencia port and getting the paperwork ready to start the ride. The past 2 weeks have been intense – not only for me and Anu, but also a multitude of friends who rushed in from all corners of the globe with their help and advice, their connections and assistance. It is at such times that your true friends surface. I must say that Anu and I have been blessed with the presence of such friends – many of whom connected with us for the first time because they wanted to help us out.
We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank each of you – for being the angels that power our wheels and for whose good wishes and kind efforts we will forever be in debt!
Thank you Alice De Mayor, Daniel Ricos, Daniela Matei, Dawinder Wahla, Dinah V, Fatima Zahra Barbari, Jordan Bastoni, Jessica OL, Laura Loyola, Navneet Kakkar, Nitin Dossa, Simran Kaur Virk, Sunil Gate, Sujal Patwardhan, Juan Aliaga, Pablo Silvan.
The rock bottom
Is it a reflection of the pace of things here in this port city of Spain? Perhaps ‘No’. Perhaps such ‘touristic importation’is so rare that no one really has any clue of the requirements – or the issuing gates- and I assure you there is little to be found by way of words of advice from so called “Knowledgable Pundits” who prowl the web displaying their superiority.
But I do know that I have suffered much- and a large part of it is due to the poor performance of the clearing agent that handled my formalities here in Valencia. For the sake of professional courtesy, I refrain from making public the name of this organization but suffice to say that they are a large organization with an impressive office in the heart of Valencia (ask me and I will tell you their name 1-1 so that you may be cautioned).
Perhaps few such consignments make it from India, perhaps my ‘handler’ was arrogant and inexperienced, or perhaps the company itself was learning the ropes as they walked each step of the nerve wrecking journey with me- but I would not wish this experience even upon my worst enemy.
“Grin and bear; Learn and share” my Ma taught me this valuable life lesson as a child. I shall abide by that adage. So I am sharing below few points that I learnt from this experience…
Lesson 1: While shipping your consignment (motorbike / automobile / or perhaps any other consignment) from India choose a port that is really large and has experience of receiving goods from the subcontinent.
Remark: Larger port authorities are accustomed to receive goods from India and they do not have to start by reading up the fine print and understanding the bi-lateral laws applicable for your consignment. In my case, Valencia is a port that is not a particular trade hub for India and the authorities needed to start from the scratch
Lesson 2: While seeking the Carnet papers from the issuing authorities, please ensure that you personally verify that the country you are traveling into honours the Carnet. Else it is just an expensive piece of paper you procured but will hold little value.
Remark: Is it a responsibility of the issuing authorities to ensure that they do not sell you a paper that holds no value in the country you are traveling into? I would like to think so- but let’s not finger point; better we ascertain for ourselves.
Lesson 3: Please know that Carnet De Passage (PIC 1) (applicable when you are shipping your own automobile- as in my case, on a returnable basis) is valid for a few countries. The list is defined as fine print at the back cover of the Carnet booklet. Unfortunately for me, Spain was not on that list of countries where Carnet De Passage is valid.
Remark: So technically, authorities are within their rights to deny acceptance of Carnet in Spain. In bigger ports say Barcelona for example, the trade momentum works in favour and your consignment may clear without hurdles- but in smaller ports like Valencia, this is a no-go. What it translates into: you have to pay nearly 30% of the value of the motorbike (as defined by the authorities) and submit as registration, taxes etc. This was their ask, when I tried to secure release of my motorbike.
Lesson 4: Please know that there is still a way to import your personal vehicle into Spain. It is a well kept secret BUT- All visitors, including those visiting Spain for commercial or professional reasons, may benefit from the temporary importation regime. Land transport vehicles may be imported free of duty for six months per year (consecutive or otherwise).
Remark: If by misfortune you land up with a clearing agent who acts more as a recovery agent rather than a person who negotiates on your behalf, you need to really cut through the layers. Look at email chains; write, call and seek help from all and sundry but ensure that you connect with shipping and customs authorities with whom you can make your case. There is a simple way out: you need to sign a declaration whereby you are allowed to import your private vehicle into the country. Is it not expected of a competent clearing agent to know this aspect? Say no more!
Lesson 5: For overall coordination, you need to have your basic document set ready (in scan and original):
- Motorbike Export documents (Bill of Lading, Shipping & Marine insurance, Carnet document)
- Motorbike documents (Purchase receipt, Indian Insurance, Registration certificate)
- Your documents (Passport and Visa; Driving licence- International and Indian, travel as well as accident insurance valid for the regions of travel)
Remarks: I had all of them. And please make sure you travel with these documents on you- and you will have better odds at beating Murphy’s laws than I did- it will save you precious days while your agency shares one requirement… and then another… after much follow-up, on a piecemeal basis. If you lose your cool, do so at your own peril because the system can get you tangled more easily than you can imagine. Steady there… Grin and Bear.
Lesson 6: Collecting the Motorbike from the warehouse is also not to be taken mildly. You need tons of documentation (All documents mentioned on lesson 5 above plus à the No Objection Certificate from the Loader – PIC 2).
Remarks: Beware if your agent misses this critical document (like mine did) and you are stuck at the warehouse far out. Take along someone who speaks the local language because you will be severely challenged for communication. Also remember you not only have to unbox your own vehicle (no help from anyone there) and have resources to carry back or dispose all the packaging of your motorbike. Local laws are severe and not to be taken lightly
Lesson 7: The Frontier Insurance- the Green card. This is by far the most challenging topic and it nearly got us off the road even before we started our ride. Finally after HUGE HUGE issues we managed to secure it. (PIC 3).
Remarks: The Insurance is a third party cover offered to foreign number plates. Carefully read the fine print of countries covered. Those that are not covered within this will require fresh insurance to be bought locally at the border or at authorised offices.
Lesson 8: Beware of hidden costs. On hindsight I would have negotiated and fully paid all charges from India for the consignment- it would have saved me much harassment, overcharging and money on international calls as the local clearing agent shrugged shoulders saying- it is negotiated from India.
Remark: The sheer expenses and paperwork / running around without guidance and needles in haystack (even the experts from the automotive domain locally do not know) can really test your resolve. If you are planning to ride with your own vehicle in EU, be prepared to experience challenges that you can never imagine… but hey you took the call; you also take the medicine!
However, ride the streets of alien lands across Europe with your Indian number plate and you will know- it is all worth it in the end!!