I finally got my bike through customs!
After leaving Istanbul two days later than planned (which then required waiting over the weekend while customs was closed), and going through 3 days of dealing with customs, it felt pretty good to go on one of the most exciting rides I’ve ever taken through a city.
When customs opened on Monday, I met with my clearing agent (I would strongly recommend hiring one if you’re shipping a bike to India…I wouldn’t have had a clue where to even begin if I was on my own) to start the process.
In the afternoon on Monday, I had to go to the West India Automobile Association, who needed accept my carnet before any further customs work could be done. The WIAA office was about an hour away by train, and the optimistic side of me figured that the carnet approval would go quick, and by the time I was back to the airport, we’d still have about an hour and a half of time to finish everything up.
I was wrong…on both assumptions…
First, the WIAA…About five years ago, they had a guy that brought a car in the country on a counterfeit carnet. So their procedure since then is to call or email the issuing office for every carnet they clear (if you think that seems a bit excessive, you might just be right). The office that issued mine is in Canada, so that’s automatically a one day wait. So much for getting back to the airport and wrapping things up before 5:30.
On Tuesday afternoon, I got a call from the WIAA, saying they didn’t hear anything back in regards to the legitimacy of my carnet. So, back to their office I go, where I showed them (desperately) the letter that was mailed to me when I originally received the carnet, along with the envelope that it came in…apparently that was evidence enough(?!) so they gave me the go ahead. Back to the airport, where the customs agent handed me a stack of papers…
“Start on these and come back tomorrow. You won’t be done by the end of the day.”
Talk about repetitive…Each form asked for the same information…Engine size, engine number, chassis number, color, weight, etc. At least I got those all finished up, so Wednesday wouldn’t be such a long day…wrong again!
Wednesday morning rolls around, and by now, the security guard at the shipping warehouse welcomes me in, no longer feeling the need to search my backpack. Long story short, ever half hour, I was told it would be just another half hour. By about 2:00 we finally uncrated the bike, which at least gave me faith that the process would be done sometime today, and by about 4:00, I finally was free.
When I rode out of the warehouse and stopped to put my helmet on, a crowd immediately formed. And the questions came…three, repeated over and over…
“Where are you from?”
“How much did it cost?”
“How fast does it go?”
The ride back to my hotel went through some pretty busy traffic, but it wasn’t all that bad. Maybe I’m sick or something, but I find riding in this type of traffic to be a bit fun. Also, after riding in it, I can still say that it isn’t as bad as I was expecting.