Importing a Motorcycle into Los Angeles

This is my experience shipping my US registered motorcycle into Los Angeles (LAX). I air freighted my 2007 BMW G650X Challenge from Buenos Aires on LAN Cargo. You can read about that process here.

My motorcycle arrived three days after I crated it in Buenos Aires. LAN Cargo called to notify me that it would take an additional day to clear customs.

Step 1: Go to Cargo Office and pay import fee

Step 2: Take paperwork to US Customs and Border Office

Step 3: Collect Motorcycle at Cargo Office

I landed at LAX and because taxis there have a $18 minimum charge I took the free Sheraton Hotel Shuttle to the hotel and then walked 1 block to the LAN Cargo office.

I had to provide my Airway bill, passport and pay the storage and import fees. They only accept cash. The import fee was $58. They prepared more paperwork and directed me to go to the US Customs and Border Protection office a few miles away. I took a taxi from the Sheraton. At the customs office they asked for the paperwork from the shipping company and my current motorcycle registration. Note: I had my moto registration up to date and paid for. I also had my California insurance policy re-instated to be active for the day I arrived and had a .PDF of the current policy on my phone should anyone require it. The agent stamped my paperwork clearing the motorcycle to be released.  I was the only one in line at the office and was out within 15 minutes. Taxis are hard to find on that road so I suggest having your taxi wait unless you want to walk back to Century Blvd to find one.

I took a taxi back to the LAN Cargo office and gave them the stamped paperwork. They gave me my copies of everything then directed me to the warehouse where a fork lift operator took the paperwork and went to collect my motorcycle. They asked what dock my truck was in. I told them I would be riding my motorcycle from there so they brought it over to a dock that had a vehicle ramp. The motorcycle was already uncrated but still wrapped in the plastic and secured to the pallets. I used my pocket knife to cut away the plastic and the metal straps. I now had to get my moto back together. I reconnected the battery, attached the mirrors, windscreen, and luggage.



The next step was the most complicated. At the Buenos Aires LAN Cargo warehouse where I crated the moto, the workers there suggested I take off the front wheel to lower the bike, thus saving money as they charge by volume. They used a forklift and a strap to lift my bike to easily get my front wheel off then lowered the forks to the crate. At LAN Cargo LAX they said they were not able to help lift my motorcycle in anyway due to liability. I even spoke to the main supervisor. They wouldn’t help. Fortunately there were two truckers standing there waiting for cargo and they offered to help lift the bike while I put the front wheel on. I think having us do that in their warehouse posed for a safety risk than them using their forklift. One way we had it easier was we rolled the rear wheel off the pallet so it would be easier to get the front high enough. Without the help of those two strangers I would have not been able to leave. If you don’t have friends coming with you, I suggest leaving the front wheel attached when shipping. IMG_8098

A quick check over the bike and I was ready to ride the final 35 miles home, down California’s 405 freeway at rush hour. There is a gas station less than a mile from LAN Cargo so I was able to fill up.


Overall the shipping process was incredibly easy and straight forward. I did use the help of Dakar Motors in Buenos Aires, you can read about the process of shipping out of Argentina, here. When shipping to LAX the cargo company will provide you with all the information but here’s a summary of the information given to me by LAN Cargo.

Additional Information

LAN Cargo LAX Office:

6040 Avion Drive Los Angeles, California 90045 USA

Telephone: 310 – 258- 6100  ext 1186

Email: Constanza Gabella cgabella[at]

Import fee for my 2007 BMW G650x Challenge: $58

LAN Cargo gives two days of free storage at their warehouse, which is only 1 mile from LAX. After the 2 free days it was $.07/kilo per day with a minimum of 150 kilos or minimum $40/day fee. The total weight of the crate was 270 kilos. I paid for several additional days of storage which cost $19/day. There is a limit to the number of days you can store it before customs confiscates it and complicates the process.


  1. Brad Evans says

    Great stuff Dan. I’m on my way in 1 week to SA via Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica and Panama. I was going to come back through CA but Im now thinking, the BA option for shipping might be the best bet.

    You mentioned that US dollars for Argentine pesos was the way to go. How hard was it to find US dollars?

    Yours was the first blog I followed, if I have half the trip you had, Ill be happy.


    • Dan Ford says

      Hey Brad – wow 1 week to go. If I could give one piece of unsolicited advice, just relax. You’ll have an amazing time. There are a few options to US Dollars in South America.
      Peru, Chile, and Uruguay are countries where you can get dollars out of the ATMs. On my final Chila to Argentina crossing (I crossed it 5 times) I used the service Xoom to send myself money to a small town in Chile. I then held onto that money for the final days of my journey into Buenos Aires. Once in BA I found a place to exchange the money at blue dollar rate. The exchange rate is even better now than when I was there. If it’s not too late try to get a debit card that doesn’t charge you for international withdrawls.

  2. Diane Carpenter for Ron Carpenter says

    It’s mid-March 2016; husband is headed to Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, then north to Buenos Aires to ship KTM 690 back to the States approximately early April. Have attempted to contact Sandra & Javier at DakarMotos but no response. I get the impression that either the website is being revised and/or they are moving physical location of business but not sure what’s going on..
    We did receive an e-mail from them in December, before the ride started, and they requested advance notice, but I have no idea if they received recent inquiries with advance notice.
    We live in Oregon; do you think Seattle would be a reasonable delivery destination/port-of-entry for motorcycle?
    It is tough finding current information; just luck I found yours.
    Thank you,
    Diane in Oregon

      • says

        Hello Dan,
        Thanks so much for responding. Interestingly enough, we did receive a response from Javier. I think DakarMotos is so busy that Javier responds when he reads emails with riders’ approximate ship dates. I was so surprised to see Javier’s response suddenly but assured that the shipping process will go smoothly.
        Reasonably certain the KTM will fly into Phoenix as that is where Ron departed from, and his truck is there. To avoid riding in wintry conditions, he drove from Oregon to his folks’ place in Mesa, AZ, and left his truck there. Thank you very much for including your experience about retrieving your motorcycle at LAZ.
        Currently the two riders are well on their way on Ruta 40 headed toward Ushuaia. I read a blog that Ruta 40 has limited fuel stops and ATMs may not be usable for international travelers. Adventure riders relish all kinds of challenges, don’t they?
        Night of 19 March was at Esquel, SPOT notification was 45.46S morning of 19 March.
        We watched a couple of Zay Harding’s Globe Trekker episodes about his road trip on Ruta 40/Patagonia last fall — wow!! I guess that’s what Ron is viewing firsthand. Perhaps the two riders will use their heated gear during the early days of autumn in Patagonia.
        I salute all the people who have undertaken such great adventures.
        Cheers from the Great Northwest.

        • Dan Ford says

          Oh good! Coincidentally I also work on programming for PBS like Zay Harding of Globe Trekker. We were at a conference together last year and chatted about Ruta 40. But doing that on a moto vs in a truck would be verry different. Hope all the shipping works out well.

          • says

            How interesting you’re a Globe Trekker contributor/programmer. Will look you up. The people who travel internationally, such as you, gain a perspective that I am so clueless about. I was in Slovenia (when it was still Yugoslavia) in 1970. I hope there is no Costco or Starbucks all these decades later where I visited–on the Adriatic.
            As far as the “Great Motorcycle Adventure,” perhaps luck, skill, guardian angels…
            19 March: SPOT said 46.58293S, Perito Moreno (I believe).
            I’m retired so I have spent many unproductive minutes viewing online maps, particularly Ruta 40 in the past few days. The photos of the southern Andes are stunning. Because it’s summer’s end, not sure if these two riders have or will take the time to go to the glacier. Ushuaia beckons.
            Hope the Great Motorcycle Adventure hasn’t changed my husband so much I don’t know him. The dogs will expect him to be their person, unchanged.


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