I thought I would compose this blog for you or anyone else that you feel could use this information. I shipped by bike from Vladivostok in Eastern Russia to the city of Vancouver in Canada by Sea Freight. I completed this crossing in September 2016.
The Russian Part
If you are already in Russia my advice would be to get hold of a guy called Yuri who works for a company called Links Ltd that is based in Vladivostok. I got in touch with him about a month before hand. I strongly recommend making contact with him as early as possible. The reason being is there are other travelers on the road and the chances are he wont ship a container with just one bike so it's always good to share. Plus this brings the costs down. We had three in our container. At the end of this I will put a full price list up.
Yuri is the owner of the business and has an assistant working for him. They are both very good at replying to your emails with the relevant details. And they both speak very good English. He will come to your hostel and sort out all the paperwork for you and personally take you to the customs office which is very helpful. He can also give you directions of a local company that will properly clean your bike. This is needed for Canada as they can be hot on the foreign soil issue. It's cheap and you have no real excuse.
Once the customs is done and you've paid the fee he will then take your bike to the yard and load it in to a container. From now you are free to leave the country. He keeps in touch with you and sends you tracking details of your shipment that you can follow on line. I think the ship for Vancouver leaves every Wednesday and should take about thirty days. Payment is either by cash which I feel is his preference, but you can also wire it electronically to him. He is not pushy with the payment which keeps this whole process really relaxed. The Russian side of things is now complete and you are free to go wherever knowing that you have thirty days until it arrives in Vancouver.
The Canadian Part
So you've now been on your holiday and flown into Vancouver. This is where it gets interesting. Yuri liaises with a woman called Gabryelle from a company called Astra International shipping. I was not impressed and it looks like there's no other options on this side. The original quote is nowhere near what we paid. Like I said earlier a full price list is below. There were so many delays with emails getting back to us it was unreal, and it felt like every email brought a price hike with it too. Nowhere near the same service as Yuri provided. But like I said I am pretty sure you have no other agent to use. I tried calling around but they're all commercial agents. Plus, changing the bill of landing will incur a $100 charge on top of the fees already.
The container arrived on time as the tracker and Yuri said it would. But getting it out was a different story. It needed to be checked for a soil examination. And this takes about five working days. During this time we were sent documents that we had to print and take to various offices around the city. Again, not the same service we had in Russia. It is very difficult to print documents out. Some hostels will allow you to email these documents to be printed for a charge. Once the soil examination is complete you can then visit the customs office with all the relevant paperwork to get a document stamped which means you can enter the shipping yard to collect your bike. This all takes a good few days more so don't make too many plans when you are waiting around in Vancouver.
Now your paperwork is all complete you can go to the shipping yard. This is the first time we met our agent. We had to part a further $60 each because her office didn't order the pick up of the container in time. This was not our fault but we were still made to pay the charge. Not good at all.
When everything is done you will be escorted to your container where you can take your bike and ride out providing you have relevant insurance. I will put a link at the end of this for that too should you be looking for something.
What you've all been waiting for. These prices are in the local currency so please adjust for yours and are also quoted for each person not the container as a whole.
- $1650 US - to Yuri all in for everything on the Russian side.
- $600 US - approx. for flights to get you over to Vancouver from Vladivostok.
- $925 CAN - This we were told would be about $80 but you can see how much that got out of control. Not cool. Just for paperwork to get the bike out of the container.
Don't forget the cost of living while waiting for your bike. I was lucky and had some contacts that helped me out a lot. Vancouver is a beautiful city but it is not cheap to be waiting around in. Cheapest option would be stay in Russia for a bit longer before flying out. I found a very cheap flight and had contacts so that's why I left earlier.
Why Not Fly?
Yes flying is definitely an option and was a preferred option at the beginning. But... You cannot fly directly from Vladivostok internationally with the bike. From here you can only ship to South Korea which takes 24 hours or Japan for 48 hours. Yuri can sort all this out for you if that's what you want to do. Once in South Korea I would need a permit to ride my bike there being British. US citizens don't. Then you still need to clean the bike, crate and ship it out and still pay for your flight. Even though we incurred extra charges the price still came under the price of flying. It was hugely helped by the fact that I had contacts to help me. In future I will always fly cross continent but from Vladivostok it's not a direct process which ups the price.
Below are details of the agents that I have mentioned and their respective contact details.
- Yuri Melnikov - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.links-ltd.com
- Gabryelle Van Der Molen - email@example.com - www.astrainternational.com
- Insurance for Canada and the US - www.motorcycleexpress.com
Please feel free to get in touch with me should you require anymore details on my shipment. It was not ideal but don't forget that this is all part of the challenge and adventure of overland travel. If it was easy everyone would be doing it.
Aaron and Penny.