Bike in a van to France

Lots of stories of people getting fined and taking hours or even turned back at French customs with bikes in the back of vans. Contacted UK customs and they couldn’t tell me! Contacted a carnet company and they said carnet not necessary, just need V5 and insurance. Anyone on here with first hand experience? Another Brexit bonus…

Hi Justin,

This is a link from May 2022 to an FEMA article on this topic https://www.femamotorcycling.eu/bike-transport-uk-eu/?fbclid=IwAR1jrKGccclSfHODyd3h8FfVTY_g4kX1dvlYiIlEL-qZIgeg-th9Qxxgevk

Things seem to have changed since then.

Good luck and please report back to us

Cheers Uki

Seems that there is a newer version of this ‘spectacle’ out there. Roger has an article in the next Gambalunga as well.
see below:
France And UK Debate The Meaning Of ‘Means Of Transport’

FEMA news June 2, 2022

Just when we thought the problems with transporting a motorcycle or a car from the UK to the European Union were solved, new problems arise.

After the European Commission confirmed that transporting a motorcycle or a car (‘means of transport’) from the United Kingdom to the continent should not be a problem, a discussion has started among French and British customs authorities about when a motorcycle or car is a ‘means of transport’.

This is an ongoing subject, expect more updates.

In the latest twist in the issue of customs formalities when transporting motorcycles across the EU/UK border in vans or on trailers, FEMA, NMC (National Motorcyclists Council UK) and FIVA, the historic vehicle federation, have received updated advice from the UK Government during a meeting held between the NMC and the UK Government’s Cabinet Office borders group.

This meeting was held as a result of the letter that the three riders’ organisations received from the European Commission, suggesting that there should be no onerous customs formalities for moving bikes in vans or on trailers. The UK Government used the letter to reopen talks on the issue with France and has undertaken further checks with various customs authorities on their understanding of the issue in light of the European Commission’s letter.

‘Customs can take the view that a road registered motorcycle stops being a means of transport when it is being carried by another vehicle.’

Unfortunately, there is an issue with what customs authorities regard as ‘means of transport’ under various international treaties and regulations. It has now emerged that in technical terms, customs can take the view that a road registered motorcycle stops being a means of transport for the purposes of crossing a border when it is being carried by another vehicle, temporarily becoming ‘goods in transit’. This appears to be what has happened in France, where customs have in some cases insisted that motorcycles (and cars) in vans, lorries or on trailers are accompanied by an ATA Carnet.

Talks continue to take between UK, EU and French officials aimed at seeking a final resolution to the issue and riders’ groups are maintaining close contact with both the UK and EU authorities.

However, until a final resolution is reached, FEMA, FIVA and NMC are now advising that riders check carefully with customs authorities about individual border requirements when transporting motorcycles to and from the UK and EU in a van or on a trailer. There seems to be varying ways the rules are applied between EU countries.

Dolf Willigers, FEMA’s General Secretary: “The letter received from the European Commission indicated that there had been resolution to the issue. However, there is still a problem with the interpretation of international customs treaties and regulations by individual national authorities, with requirements sometimes differing between EU Member States when it comes to how rules are enforced by customs officers themselves on the borders. As a result, we feel that updated advice needs to be issued. In tandem, via the NMC, we have asked the UK Government to publish further advice on the rules for movements of bikes in vans or on trailers into the UK. It seems nonsensical that such technical detail can determine when a road registered motorcycle effectively is or isn’t a road-going motorcycle in customs terms. Once it is offloaded from another vehicle after crossing the border it becomes a means of transport again – requiring no customs formalities. This is an absurd situation, and we call on various customs authorities to resolve the matter as fast as possible.”

NMC Executive Director Craig Carey-Clinch said: “Without a doubt the work done jointly by FEMA, FIVA and the NMC has ‘shifted the dial’ on this issue and led to the reopening of talks between the UK and individual EU Member States which had stalled on this issue back in December. The UK Government supports the riders’ groups position on this and have reported that similarly, France may also now be keen to find a resolution. But there are technical issues at play in relations to customs regulations. The NMC have proposed a potential solution which the UK will discuss with counterparts within the EU, but we fear that it could be some months before this is finally resolved. In the meantime, we urge riders to check the rules carefully before transporting their bikes to and from the EU in a van or on a trailer.”

And here is Roger’s article that will be in the next Gambalunga:
“Strange Customs
In the last couple of issues we’ve mentioned problems experienced by some folk taking bikes to the EU on trailers or in vans. On the spot fines and fees have sometimes been imposed by French Customs.
In mid-May, FEMA (the Federa‐ tion of European Motorcyclist’s Asso‐ ciations) reported that the situation had been resolved … but on June 2nd they issued another press release saying that all was not well.
To quote FEMA: “There is an issue with what customs authorities re‐ gard as ‘means of transport’ under var‐ ious international treaties and regulations. It has now emerged that in technical terms, customs can take the view that a road registered motor‐ cycle stops being a means of transport for the purposes of crossing a border when it is being carried by another vehicle, temporarily becoming ‘goods in transit’. This appears to be what has happened in France, where customs have in some cases insisted that motorcycles (and cars) in vans, lorries or on trailers be accompanied by an ATA Carnet. A Carnet is designed for busi‐nesses exporting goods and costs £300 – not viable for those such as the editor and his wife who plan to take their Guzzi on a trailer to France soon.
As editor, I emailed the French Customs press office. They suggested I call their ‘teleadvisors’ – not ideal as my French is rusty. A further email resulted in the information that what was needed was ‘European document cerfa 15678’. A web search revealed a PDF, in French, headed ‘European Union Temporary admission Document accompanying an oral customs declaration (Article 165 of the delegated act on the Union Customs Code).’ This is used for temporary im‐ ports up to six months … so I filled it in, in French. Watch out for the next exciting episode.”

Thanks Uki.
Looking forward to the next instalment…

Got this from HMRC:

These are the current lines of information that we have from the London Chamber of Commerce, who are the main issuing body of carnets in the UK.

“We issue carnets for specially adapted vehicles or race/exhibition events that are taking place on dedicated race tracks or roads closed to the public. We do not issue carnets for vehicles to be driven on the open road or are being towed.

If the enquirer has any questions as to whether we can issue a carnet for their needs they can contact us on eCarnet@londonchamber.co.uk.”

They also have a telephone number which is:+44 (0)20 7203 1844

On the London Chamber of Commerce’s website, if you scroll down towards the end of this page there is a Frequently Asked Questions section. From there, the end of Section 17 covers the guidance on vehicles and the different requirements. Here is a link to their page where you can find the section that I mentioned: ATA Carnet Customs Document | Trade Documentation | LCCI

The Chamber of Commerce may be able to produce a letter or some form of written confirmation for you that they do not issue carnets for vehicles that are to be used on the open road.

A friend is borrowing my van to take a couple of bikes to France, one for track and one for road.
I’ll let you know how he gets on…