Successfully Shipping a Motorbike from Georgia to Azerbaijan (as AZ border shut)

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kileyshields
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Successfully Shipping a Motorbike from Georgia to Azerbaijan (as AZ border shut)

Post by kileyshields »

TL;DR - Shipped our motorbikes from (Tbilisi) Georgia to Azerbaijan (Baku) for $175 per bike (a small 125cc Honda CB). Process was more or less straightforward but took a long time and hands-on work at customs in Baku to release the bikes. Between the power of attorney and fees at customs, we paid overall $312 to ship one bike (which includes the $175 in shipping mentioned above) and deal with all paperwork at both ends.

Finding Transporter/Handing Bikes Over
We (two people, two motorbikes) are traveling from London to Kazakhstan and wanted to find a way to ship the bikes into Azerbaijan, as we are not keen to travel in Russia for various reasons. We’d received a quote of $1,300 before setting off in April, which was above our budget so sought out cheaper options once we were in Georgia. After lots of Facebook searching and messaging, we stumbled on a man named Anton Polikarpov who quoted $175 per bike (price depends on bike size, a Vespa went for $150 but bigger bikes could be more than $175). He connected us with a British expat living in Baku who vouched for the service, which he used earlier in the year, so we committed. Anton gave us the location of his company’s parking lot in Marneuli (a majority Azuri town - around 25km south of Tbilisi), Georgia, where we agreed we would drop the bikes in mid-July (2023). Dropping the bikes took a full day, as the man who was supposed to meet us (Eyyub) ended up not being able to come, so we were shunted onto another colleague (Ilkin) - who did not initially realize that he would have to help us. After some chatting and a round of chai, he told us that we needed to obtain a notarized power of attorney (PoA) document - giving the truck driver control over our bikes in order to cross the border. He shared the location of a notary back in Marneuli, so we headed there and handed over our passports, our bike paperwork, and the driver’s information. The notary took 3 hours to draw up the paperwork as well as Georgian, English, and Azerbaijani translations of the documents. There is no way to speed this us (it just depends how busy the notary office is - but we would advise to get PoA before going to the parking lot in Marneuli). The power of attorney cost 80 lari per document, so 160 for both of our bikes—we had heard it would be slightly cheaper but this is what we were quoted and we had no other frame of reference against which to argue). Power of attorney in hand, we headed back to our transporter’s parking lot/office on the outskirts of the city. We handed over the power of attorney, and the man we were working with (Ilkin, who was very friendly and helpful!!) took copies of our passports and bike documents. With those papers in his control, he said we were free to go. We left our soft panniers on the bikes but only after a lot of negotiation on this. Ilkin said there was a big risk the bags wouldn’t be allowed past customs. We do not recommend leaving any bags on the bikes, the transporters were not happy with us for this and it sounds like we were lucky for those to get through without issue (albeit the bags were searched). We had to spend about 10 days in Tbilisi with some family that came out to visit us, so we asked for the bikes to arrive in Baku no later than July 27, the day we were flying in.

Delays Crossing the Border
We arrived in Baku Thursday, July 27, and called Anton on Friday, July 28 when we hadn’t heard anything. Due to massive queues at the border, Anton said the truck would arrive earliest on July 28 (Friday) at night - but likely over the weekend and that due to customs operating hours and additional fees for weekend processing, advised to pick up the bikes on Monday. On Monday, we called again - and it turned out that the truck was still at the border and was now only going to arrive into Baku on Monday, so we had to go Tuesday (August 02) instead, five days later than they initially promised and we’d asked. Anton recognized this was an inconvenience but could not do anything to speed the process up as the border was so busy.

Collecting the Bikes
Baku customs is located at 57, Bakı şəh, Qaradağ ray. Lökbatan qəs, Xocasən yolu, Lokbatan, Once at customs, first we had to sit in the main office and wait for our bike models to be added to the Baku Customs’ intranet before we were able to pay the road tax associated with the bikes (the first step of the process). This took about 4.5 hours, as our bike model had never been registered in Baku before so some official’s sign-off was required to add it to their system. We did at one point think that this could be a ploy to extort a bribe. However, when we enquired (“is there anything we can do to speed up the process?”), he just said the system is the system and it takes time. At about 2:30, we were told our bikes were added and told to pay the transit road tax at the bank branch located inside the customs office. This cost 94 manat total, so 47 manat per bike. [Note: This would likely be more if importing bike for an extended period of time and/or for bikes with bigger engines.] We showed the receipt of this to the main official we’d been working with, and he told us to take all of our paperwork to the terminal due south of the main terminal we were in [Note: When looking directly at the main customs building from the road, the second terminal we were directed to is just to the right, about 5 minutes walk]. We got to that terminal, waved our paperwork around a bit, and were directed to Mr. Azer, some official at the back of the parking lot. Mr. Azer let us into his office then called an English speaking broker over who led us around the compound and helped us through this next process. In this second terminal we had three officials to see and went back to Mr. Azer after each official so that hey could review our paperwork and ensure that it was correct and put his signature on the back. First we have to pay 100 manat per bike to be able to collect them that day (otherwise we would have to wait 7 to 10 days for the bikes to be processed through the Azuri customs systems). The 100 manat charge matches what the another British expat paid for his Vespa. So if it not a real charge, it is at least consistent. We then paid 10 manat for a parking fee. For no clear reason this was only levelled at one of our two bikes. Finally, the police had to review and stamp all of our paperwork. This whole process probably took 1.5 hours and would have been a lot more difficult without the English speaking broker (who did not want/expect a charge). Finally, with the stamped paperwork we were sent to a third thermal (i.e. giant car park) where we could pick up the motorbikes. As our bikes had come in on the top of a car transporter, we also had to pay 30 manat per bikes for a forklift to come and unload the bikes. The 30 manat matches what Anton had told us was standard - but we did not get a receipt for this transaction. As such, in total we paid $109 to get each bike out of Baku customs. However, to note - although the 100 manat fee (paid to access the hikes early) can be avoided if you wait for the bikes to work through the system. We understand that a 10 manat per day per vehicle fee is charged so if your bike is in customs more than 10 days it will actually cost more than 100 manat to access the vehicle.

Anton’s contact is: +994557616143
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Valentin.vak
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Re: Successfully Shipping a Motorbike from Georgia to Azerbaijan (as AZ border shut)

Post by Valentin.vak »

Thats amazing to hear, congrats! Im planning a similar trip later this year.
Did you manage to reach kazakhstan? How?
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sinclairsin
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Re: Successfully Shipping a Motorbike from Georgia to Azerbaijan (as AZ border shut)

Post by sinclairsin »

What did you do with the bikes once reaching Kazakhstan? Thank you for the writeup.

This would be a major hurdle in my trip from Portugal to Kazakhstan this year, as I will have my car with all of my belongings. Not sure what timeline that will create or if it will even be possible. Let's hope they open up the land border.
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jeffwkirby
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Re: Successfully Shipping a Motorbike from Georgia to Azerbaijan (as AZ border shut)

Post by jeffwkirby »

That is a great and detailed report, thank you. I am looking at doing that journey, waiting for April to see if they open if not I have a gamble on whether to attempt your way to complete my ride to India. My issue is the time/hold up.
Question - do you have contact details for the shipper?
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