This is my experience shipping my US registered motorcycle by air freight from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Los Angeles, California. If you are just looking for information about how to import a motorcycle into Los Angeles (LAX) read the post here.
After unsuccessfully searching for information on shipping out of Buenos Aires without using the popular middleman, Dakar Motors, I decided their $90 USD fee would be worth it.
This post describes the process of shipping through Dakar Motors.
I contacted Sandra a month in advance to inquire about the latest estimates and information I would need. She quickly responded via email with an estimate and informed me that I could just contact her closer to my planned departure. Dakar Motors recommends notifying them 2 weeks in advance. The procedure takes 4 business days (not Saturdays, Sundays or National Holidays) and you must be present in Buenos Aires for.
- Day 1 meet and arrange paperwork
- Day 2 packing and customs formalities at the airport
- Day 3 final payment at downtown shipping office
- Day 4 just to be safe in case there’s a paperwork or shipping issue
Dakar Motors is located on the outskirts of Buenos Aires so I suggest going out there late morning to avoid any traffic leaving or returning. It is a 30-40 minute ride from downtown. GPS: S34 32.474 W58 30.998
At the first meeting they requested I bring:
- Temporal import (valid): Original and 2 paper copies (please check your personal and bike information to be correct).
- Passport original and 2 paper copies: Details pages and last Argentinean entry stamp.
- Bike Registration or Title: Original and 2 paper copies.
- ARG$ 1000 – for the Booking fee
Within 1 hour Sandra and Javier had all the paperwork ready to go and I was on my may back to the city. Dakar Motors provided written instructions in English that detailed what I needed to to the next two days.
At the Ezeiza International Airport Cargo facility south of Buenos Aires I had a 10:30am appointment to pack up my moto. It is about a 40 minute ride on a toll road. I arrived and they directed me to ride into the warehouse where a pallet was waiting for me with a ramp. As instructed I presented the customs documents then began the process of breaking it down as small as possible as the shipping cost is determined by the size of the crate, not weight. The crew there brought a forklift with a strap to easily let me get the front wheel off to lower the overall height. I also disconnected the battery, took off the mirrors and windscreen.
Dakar Motors said that camping and personal equipment weren’t allowed to be stored in the crate but I checked with others on ADVRider and they said it wasn’t a problem. I stashed my gear around the bike. I kept a backpack to carry a few personal items I wanted to keep with me. A customs official checked over the documents and the bike before it was wrapped in plastic wrap. The crew at the cargo facility were extremely helpful. The whole process took 3 hours including a shuttle ride back to the city.
Day 3 – Paying
Dakar Motors emailed me the previous evening with the total amount I would need to pay at the Navicon shipping office. In May 2014 the cost to ship my G650X Challenge from Buenos Aires to Los Angeles was USD $1,802.20 or 14.507,71 in Argentine Pesos (keep reading) This is where it pays to plan ahead. Before I left Chile I took out enough US currency to cover all my expenses for my final in 5 weeks in Argentina as well as the cost of shipping the bike. Since you can exchange US dollars at the blue dollar exchange rate. I used this exchange office several times and never received fake currency. Located at Corrientes, 676, 14th floor, Apt. A. Thanks for the favorable blue dollar rate of 12 pesos per dollar (instead of the official 8) I paid in Argentine pesos the equivalent of $1,200 USD. I saved $600 by paying in pesos.
To find out about importing the motorcycle into the US at Los Angeles International Airport read this post.
Some Additional Information for Shipping out of Buenos Aires
- Shipping Coordination by Dakar Motors
- Air Freight Company LAN Airlines S.A.
- Navicon International Transport Group Lavalle 482, 7 Piso Buenos Aires Argentina Tel: 5279-7701-7702 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
*I suppose if you’re up for the additional work you could try and arrange shipping directly through Navicon and LAN Cargo but you would need to be relatively fluent in Spanish.