The time has come: Tomorrow we can finally pick up Gernot & Gisi from the airport. After we received the EPA clearance 13 days (no business days!) after our 2nd application, we immediately organized the new transport to Boston. But how does it work with customs at pickup? Does CBP (Customs Border & Protection) have a location right at the cargo terminal or do we have to go to another address in town first? Where can we get them out of their transport boxes – after all, that will take a few hours? How do we go about disposing of the transport boxes? How much cash do we need to have with us for the port fee? Questions over questions …
So, the day before, we drove personally to the address that our forwarder had given us for the pickup. Once again a very good idea from Micha: 1. so, we already knew where exactly we had to go and 2. the two very friendly ladies at the counter of Delta Cargo explained everything to us in detail.
First to customs … and hope that we do not need a broker
Having the airway bill, the freight document for Gernot & Gisi, which Kate from Delta Cargo gave us the day before, we first drove to South Boston in the morning. That’s where the customs office is located – at number 88 Falcon Avenue, to be exact. Don’t be surprised – the office is located in a terminal at the harbor where cruise ships arrive & depart. Directly in front of the ship’s passenger entrance, a ramp leads up where there are exactly 2 (!) visitor parking spaces in front of the Central entrance. The CBP office (suite 240) is located just to the left of this entrance.
The CBP office itself is very unimpressive and sparsely furnished (who needs chairs to wait 😉). However, the customs officer who welcomed us was quite friendly. After we gave him the required documents ( shipping documents, passports, international & national vehicle licenses as proof of ownership, EPA approval documents, proof of car insurance in the USA and the corresponding customs documents) and answered a few questions about our plans, he said: This may take some time. So we waited – standing in an even more barren anteroom. And a bit tense, as it was still not clear to us whether we needed a broker or not. According to Kate, CBP requires a broker to handle goods above a certain value, but she couldn’t tell us which one.
After about 30 minutes, the door opened and the officer came to us in the anteroom. We had filled out the customs documents in advance as well as we could, but there was still some information missing. The officer helped us fill them out and then left. Not a word about needing a broker. Pooh! When he came back and handed us all the paperwork, we actually had to ask for the stamp for export – even though he told us before that we would have to export the bikes again after one year. So he went again and got his stamp – but that completely uncomplicated and without discussion.
In total, to our amazement, we only needed one hour at customs. Perhaps we were lucky that apart from us just no one else wanted anything from customs 😊. And thanks to the really very friendly customs officer, everything was simple and straightforward.
An information for all, who would like to import a motorcycle into the USA: We had the following customs documents printed out: (1) the EPA form 3520, (2) the CF form 7501 and (3) the CBP form HS-7. What you have to know is that you need a release stamp of the CBP with the import date either on (1) or (2) to be able to export the motorcycle again (which you have to do after 1 year at the latest!). In our case the customs officer was not interested in the CF 7501 and so we had our EPA 3520 stamped.
Back to the cargo terminal: Time to unpack
Happy that everything went smoothly at customs, we made our way to the cargo terminal to finally receive Gernot & Gisi. In retrospect, it was good that we still had Gary at this point and were thus flexible. After a little over 30 minutes of driving, we finally arrived at the terminal where Kate remembered us from the day before. When we asked where we could receive our bikes, unpack them and get them ready to ride in almost 30 degrees, she asked us to wait a moment to speak to her manager. He made it possible for us to unpack Gernot & Gisi in a neighboring dock, which was not in use at this time, in the cool – guarded, of course; we were in the security area, after all – and to reassemble all the parts in peace. After a little more than three hours, it was done: Gernot & Gisi were ready for their first ride.
At this point we send a very big thank you to the crew of Delta Cargo: Not only that they allowed us to unpack our bikes inside; no, they also took care of the disposal of our transport boxes incl. packaging waste free of charge (we were only supposed to clear it aside). And then we were also allowed to leave Gary in the employee parking lot until we had brought one motorcycle to the hotel. Yes, a disadvantage when you have three vehicles and only two drivers … 😉. But the advantage clearly outweighs here: We could simply pack all the extra luggage that was stowed with the bikes in the transport boxes in the trunk and prepare our tour in calm at the hotel.
By the way: Driving the motorcycles out of the pallets was surprisingly easier than expected. Even though I left that to Micha and had to help Gisi a bit.
A personal thank you in the USA is indeed difficult
When we picked Gary up at the cargo terminal, we wanted to say thank you again and show our appreciation for the help. As is our custom, we would have liked to put a few dollar bills in the team’s coffee cup. So we went back to Kate and thanked her again. However, the reality is that the employees are not allowed to accept anything, and they don’t. Instead, Kate informed us that it would help them more if we would email their supervisor – in that case the CEO of Delta 🤭 as we found out later – and tell him about our good experience. Something we were very happy to do!
And so it happened that we – instead of thanking – even got home-baked strawberry cake 😋 from Kate on the way! A really great experience to the helpfulness and friendliness of the Americans, which we were allowed to make here … and a little consolation for Micha, who arrived soaking wet at the hotel with Gernot due to the rain that had started in the meantime. 😬