Some progress for bike shippers: Talks on carnets re-open, but resolution could be months away

Motorbikes ready to be transported to Europe
Motorbikes ready to be transported to Europe
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Despite an apparent breakthrough in the continuing confusion surrounding shipping bikes to Europe post-Brexit, there’s still no clarity on whether riders or shipping companies can transport motorcycles to Europe without applying for a carnet.

New talks are taking place between the UK Government, the EU and French officials and it’s hoped a final resolution can be reached – although it may take months to complete.

“Without doubt the work done has ‘shifted the dial’ and led to the reopening of talks which had stalled back in December,” National Motorcyclists Council Executive Director, Craig Carey-Clinch, told MCN.

Loading a Royal Enfield into a van

“The Government supports the riders’ groups position and have reported that similarly, France may also now be keen to find a resolution. But there are technical issues at play in relation to customs regulations and it could be some months before this is resolved.”

The issue surrounds differing interpretations of what a bike (or car) constitutes when being transported into the EU via a truck, van, or trailer.

If ridden there’s no problem as it is considered ‘a means of transport’ however, if taken by another vehicle they can be considered ‘goods in transit’ and subject to post-Brexit importation regulations.

This appears to be what has happened, particularly in France, where customs insisted transported motorcycles are accompanied by a carnet. The situation is complicated further if the machine is non-road legal (such as track bikes) or transported by third parties like shipping firms.

Motorbikes loaded onto a lorry

MCN recently reported that the European Commission wrote to the Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations (FEMA) suggesting there should be no onerous customs formalities for moving bikes in vans or on trailers.

The NMC, however, cast doubt on the Federation’s claim and urged a legal review. The UK Government has now reopened talks and undertaken further checks with customs authorities, but no final resolution has yet been reached.

The NMC, along with FEMA and others, are now advising those transporting motorcycles to check carefully with customs authorities until there is a clear agreement.

“The aim here is to simplify processes and reduce bureaucracy and costs,” Carey-Clinch continued. “This is again an issue where solutions will take further negotiations and time to resolve.”


Carnet to be waived? Clarity in sight for UK to Europe bike transportation

First published 31 May 2022 by Phil West

Loading a Ducati motorcycle into a van

European campaigners are claiming the controversy over transporting bikes from the UK to the EU, which sprang up as a result of Brexit, has been resolved – however the National Motorcyclists Council (NMC) is still urging caution until the legal position is clarified.

Since 1 January 2021 there has been considerable confusion over the legal requirements regarding bikes being transported by third parties from the UK to the EU.

This doesn’t affect owners riding or transporting their own machines, but rather those shipped by third parties such as fly-ride holiday providers or motorcycle transport companies, where the bikes are regarded as goods.

Fly-ride firms have been hit by the Brexit change

As they now came from a non-EU country, they required a carnet. Varying types of carnet and different rules between EU countries added to the confusion and expense.

This confusion prompted UK company Eurobiketrans to launch a petition requesting the Government for clarity and also led to the NMC appealling to sort the mess out. Both have so far received no reply.

However, the Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Associations (FEMA), states that the European Commission has now responded to their similar request made in December, suggesting the issue may be resolved.

Loading a track bike into a van

General Secretary, Dolf Willigers, said: “The reply from the Commission arrived in May and is crystal clear: ‘Means of transports entering the EU temporarily and leaving back to the United Kingdom after a few weeks can be placed under temporary admission and declared to customs by the sole act of crossing the frontier’.”

He goes on to advise that the commission’s letter can be read and downloaded from femamotorcycling.eu and can be used when your bike is transported to the EU.

However, the NMC, which is a coalition of the leading biking organisations such as the British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF), Auto-Cycle Union (ACU) and Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF), is urging caution until the matter is completely clarified.

Motorbikes loaded onto a lorry

“It all looks OK, but we’re not sure it covers third parties transporting bikes so we’re currently checking this legally,” Craig Carey-Clinch, NMC Executive Director told MCN.

“We’ve also written to the Cabinet Office for clarification and advice that is definitive. A government such as France may say one thing but when you get to a border the experience can be very different.”

MCN will bring you more as the story develops.


Get behind our shippers: Petition calls for carnet clarity

First published on 21 October 2021 by Jordan Gibbons

Motorbikes ready to be transported

A petition has been launched by a motorcycle transport company imploring the Government to fix the carnet confusion that is crippling their business.

Tony Barker, of Eurobiketrans, says that without more being done to smooth the transition, companies like his will go out of business. The issue arises because as soon as a bike passes into the hands of a third party, it becomes ‘goods’, and requires a carnet.

However the standard ATA carnet for good excludes road registered vehicles, while a CDP carnet, which does permit road registered vehicles, is not accepted by many EU countries. You can sign the petition here.

National Motorcyclists Council calls for carnet clarity

The National Motorcyclists Council has also appealed to the Government to sort out confusion around transportation of road registered bikes into Europe.

For owner-accompanied bikes and race bikes, the procedure is reasonably clear. However for road registered bikes entering the EU without their owners, the situation remains murky, which is causing continued difficulties for ‘fly-ride’ holiday providers and motorcycle transport companies.

The issue arises because as soon as a bike passes into the hands of a third party, it becomes ‘goods’, which requires a carnet.

However, the standard ATA carnet excludes road registered vehicles, while a CDP carnet, which does permit road registered vehicles, is not accepted by many EU countries.

Watch Neevesy’s top touring tips here:


European Commission drops insurance green card requirement for UK motorists

First published on 02 July 2021 by Ben Clarke

Riding a motorbike in Europe

The European Commission has scrapped the requirement for UK riders (including Northern Ireland) to carry an insurance green card within the EU.

Under the previous guidance all motorists wishing to travel into the EU needed to obtain a green card from their insurance provider to prove they were insured. This was of particular concern for those Northern Ireland who regularly cross the border into the Republic of Ireland.

“This is excellent news. We have long campaigned for the UK to be part of the Green Card Free Circulation Zone so we warmly welcome the decision by the European Commission,” said Huw Evans, Director General at the Association of British Insurers.

“The Commission has taken a pragmatic approach on the matter.  UK drivers will no longer need to apply for a green card through their insurer which will help reduce bureaucracy for drivers and road hauliers travelling between the UK and EU.”


Brexit bike crisis continues

First published on 29 June 2021 by Jordan Gibbons

Motorbikes ready to be transported

The National Motorcyclists Council has begun talks with the Government after no solutions have emerged to the customs requirements for sending road-registered bikes into the EU with a third party.

There was no issue transporting bikes in and out of the continent via a third party, such as for fly-ride holidays, before Brexit but since the country left the EU it has become a problem.

The EU/UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement does not deal with the matter of owner-unaccompanied movements of road registered vehicles, so the bikes would have tax and duty due on arrival on the continent. Companies that specialise in transporting road-going bikes for customers are struggling to see how they will continue trading.

Another issue that needs to be addressed is the uncertainty of non-commercial transportation of bikes – ie. two mates with bikes in the back of a van – as it appears that motorcycles may also have to be treated as goods in these circumstances.

Motorbikes loaded onto a lorry

The NMC is currently discussing the matter with the Cabinet Office Border and Protocol Delivery Group and officials are escalating the matter within Government, including Lord Frost’s EU negotiating team.

NMC Chair, Anna Zee said: “This was overlooked in all the trade negotiations but it stands to seriously disadvantage touring motorcyclists and the businesses that support them.

“We are pleased the Government is taking the matter seriously, though. But, given that negotiations with the EU will need to be involved, we are aware that agreeing new procedures may take some time.”


Carnet confusion hits travel: Leaving the EU reveals new hidden costs to move bikes

First published on 17 February 2021 by Jordan Gibbons

Loading a track bike into a van

Owners who take their machines into Europe will require a carnet in certain circumstances now that Britain has left the EU.

Free movement of goods previously meant that people who took bikes to Europe not under their own power (i.e. on a trailer or in the back of a van) could do so without any paperwork. Now that arrangement has changed, some owners will need to get a carnet to prove they are not intending to sell the bike on the continent.

A carnet is a legal document that lists the value of goods you take into another country. An ATA carnet allows you to temporarily import goods for up to 12 months without incurring any duty. Costs for the carnet vary between £200-£350.

On top of the carnet itself, you must either hand over 40% of the value of the items on the carnet as collateral or buy insurance to cover the 40% figure. The idea being if you return home without the items on the carnet, you forfeit the deposit.

Who needs a carnet to take a bike to Europe?

Official advice given by the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC), who have partnered with the ACU and Motorsport UK to provide discounted carnets, says that in very simple terms road-legal bikes (so that’s numberplate, V5, tax, MoT, insurance and green card) transported by the owner do not need a carnet while non road-legal bikes (such as track bikes or motocross bikes without numberplates or V5s) will need the document.

Loading a Royal Enfield into a van

Anecdotal evidence, however, suggests that confusion at the ports means that some customs officers are asking to see carnets for road-legal vehicles. If you turn up at the port without a carnet and the customs officers think you should have one and you can’t convince them otherwise, they have the right to turn you away, which could end your trip on the spot.

GBCC are recommending that before you take a trip to Europe, you should give them a call (0121 725 8996) and they will advise if you need a carnet.

But what about bike transports? Kevin Healy runs Focused Events, who transport hundreds of bikes to Almeria, Spain, each year for sun-baked trackday action.

“As soon as you hand over your bike to someone else to transport, even if it’s road-legal, it becomes goods and requires a carnet,” says Healy. “But it also becomes much simpler. We only need one carnet for all the bikes we transport, which means the cost to the individual could be as little as £40 and there’s no paperwork for you to fill out. We can also obtain vouchers for people who want to leave their bikes with us at the circuit.”

And what about those of us who just ride over? That’s simple: you don’t need a carnet. Just a green card from your insurance firm to prove you’re covered.


Brexit bargains? Online shoppers could be stung with hidden charges when buying from EU

First published on 29 January, 2021 by Dan Sutherland

Buying motorcycle kit from Europe could incur hidden charges

Shoppers in the UK buying products from European retailers could now be stung with hidden fees, following Britain’s exit from the EU on December 31, last year.

Previously, buyers usually only had to worry about any additional delivery costs, but following the transition, any goods purchased that were produced outside of Europe, may be subject to additional payments upon arrival, in a process known as DAP (Delivered at Place.)

This will be to cover any duty, VAT (currently 20%) plus any courier charges and must all be collected on top of the original purchase price, before the product can be delivered.

For any orders totalling a value less than £135 (that’s for all the items in your basket), the VAT should be collected at the point of sale, before being sent on to HMRC. However, additional delivery fees may still apply. Import VAT will be charged in Northern Ireland.

But what is duty? Duty is calculated depending on the type of product and its country of origin. For example, a textile jacket made in China, entering the EU and then being sold on to the UK will have a 12% duty fee added. Products made in the European Union will not have any duty to pay, however may incur other costs.

Only products made in Europe will not incur any additional duty

To put that into practice, one of the UK’s best-selling Gore-Tex biking jackets costs £1249.99 in the UK. A German website lists the same Chinese-made garment at a tempting price of around £975. Once purchased, this then gets an added £117 in duty. A 20% portion is then taken from this figure to calculate the VAT, meaning an overall cost just shy of £1310, with more left to pay for shipping and delivery. Ouch.

Confused? You’ll be pleased to know the government have rolled-out an online calculator, allowing you to work out the potential extra charges you might face. Unfortunately, this requires you to know where the product was made and under what category of item it falls – with the site listing every conceivable product type under a list of vague terms; from ‘live animals’ to ‘ammunition’.

And what if I wish to return it? If you are unhappy with a product you have received, you may still return it to the European seller, however any VAT and duty paid will need to be reclaimed from the UK government in a separate process.

What do the experts say?

Which? Consumer Rights Expert, Adam French spoke to MCN to bring you everything you need to know about shopping with a European retailer.

“If the total value of your order is less than £135, the retailer should collect VAT and pay it on your behalf, but confusion around the new rules means some customers are being asked to pay VAT by the courier. This might be because the retailer hasn’t filled in the right paperwork or hasn’t collected VAT from you. Check your receipt, if it says you’ve paid VAT that’s all the evidence you need to refuse to pay again.

“If the total cost of your order is more than £135, VAT is collected at point of delivery. If you already paid VAT to the EU nation you bought it from you can claim a refund of that once you’ve paid VAT to HMRC but involves some form filling. For orders over £135, customs duties may apply, ranging from 0% to 25%.

“Couriers have started charging additional handling fees to cover admin costs and extra customs checks. The Royal Mail, for example, is charging an £8 fee. DHL charges 2.5% of the amount paid to clear customs with a minimum fee of £11. From October 2021, Mastercard will increase surcharges to 1.5% on every transaction, up from 0.3%.”

For the full story, be sure to purchase your copy of MCN on Wednesday, 3 February.


Brexit woes for bike thieves: Leaving EU makes it harder to spirit away stolen machines

First published 25 January 2020 by Ben Clarke

Motorbikes disembark from a ferry

A welcome side effect of the UK leaving the EU is that it will make life harder for international bike thieves trying to move stolen machines through ports, according to leading vehicle crime expert, Dr Ken German.

Gangs who had previously exploited the ease of access to mainland Europe through ports like Dover to move stolen machines quickly into new markets will now find it harder to do so post-Brexit.

“Criminals’ dealings in 2020 with counterparts in the EU, importing and exporting stolen machines, were hampered first by Covid restrictions but now requires them to implement whole new strategies in order to be able to operate as before,” said Dr German.

“Greater scrutiny of personal papers, passports and driving documents often found to be fraudulent or stolen can be expected at border controls and already evidence of fake and forged passports, driving licences, international driving permits, insurance green cards have been discovered.”

It is also extremely hard to forge or replicate UK vehicle registration documents (V5C), and these will now need to be produced for riders heading abroad. Not only that, but the EU fast-track passport control and customs lanes will no longer be available to UK passport holders, offering less cover through the customs and police checkpoints for traffickers and mules.

Dr German added: “This year will no doubt see more innovative trafficking routes being tried by both UK and EU criminal bike gangs who will attempt alternative tactics to cross a variety of borders.

“Hopefully our police and National Crime Agency can extend their successful efforts in fighting vehicle crime here in the UK, where we remain one of the most productive countries in terms of vehicle theft investigation, recovery of vehicles and arrests.”


Riders could dodge some EU speeding fines

First published on 20 January, 2021 by Phil West

Riding a motorbike in Europe

Who said Brexit was all bad? British bikers may no longer face penalties for some speeding offences committed in the EU as a by-product of Brexit.

Related articles on MCN

While the UK was part of the EU, the ‘cross-border directive’ required the DVLA to share contact details of those caught on speed cameras in EU member states. This led to offending British bikers receiving fines through the post if they triggered speed cameras in the EU with the reverse also true – EU riders being fined for infractions in the UK.

However, with the UK now out of the EU the directive no longer applies and owners of British-registered bikes will no longer be sent fines from EU countries.

One of the main countries affected by this is France as it is both a popular destination for UK bikers and also a major user of speed cameras. It’s been reported that last year French police requested over 500,000 UK rider and driver details from the DVLA, leading to fines of over £50million, the largest in the EU.

France speed camera warning sign

It also led the AA to warn UK motorists they were being treated like ‘cash cows’ by French officials who feared they could lose out when Britain left the EU.

It’s now been claimed that France wishes to negotiate a new agreement with Britain to allow fines to continue to be sent from one country to another, although no such arrangement has yet been made.

Bikers should also note that this situation only applies to speed cameras and the subsequent posting of fines to UK addresses. Riders and drivers will still face on-the-spot fines if they are speeding and stopped in person by the police.

Why does the UK still use European emissions regulations after Brexit? 

Since the UK has now left the EU, we can just ignore Euro5 and bring back 2-strokes right? Well no, actually.

The UK Government held a consultation on changes to the type approval regime for new motorcycles in 2018 to decide if we should continue to follow EU Regulation 168/2013 (the one that set the Euro4 and Euro5 framework) after Brexit.

The consultation specifically asked respondents whether the UK should continue to follow this approval scheme after Brexit and found that “a substantial number of respondents suggested that they were in favour of maintaining regulatory alignment in this area with the EU following exit, rather than setting bespoke UK standards”.

Respondents were concerned that setting UK-specific laws would cause extra costs for manufacturers, which “might impact on the range of models manufacturers might choose to offer in the UK after exit”.

Changes to riding in the EU after Brexit

Following the UK’s exit from the EU on January 1, 2021, there are now some changes to the documentation you need to have with you if you ride on the European mainland.

You now need to carry a green card, which proves that you have the minimum insurance requirement for the countries you wish to enter. Contact your insurance company and they should be able to send you one or instruct you through printing your own.

If you have a paper driving licence, or a licence issued in Gibralter, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man, you may also need an International Driving Permit. Check with the country you are visiting before you travel, the permits are bought at some Post Offices and cost £5.50.

Phil West

By Phil West

MCN Contributor and bike tester.