I flew my Honda CRF1000 AfricaTwin from Montreal in Canada to Casablanca in Morocco in December 2019 with Air Canada Cargo.
Air Canada Cargo is the easiest and fastest way to get your motorcycle out of North America. During the summer time they have the special ‚Fly your Bike‘ program which makes it very cheap! The prices, locations and timeframe of the program change yearly, so check out their homepage for the current information.
Usually the program runs from April to September. You can fly your motorcycle outside of this time, but it will be way more expensive. We are talking about 3800CAD instead of 1500CAD! You get even more discount if you fly yourself with Air Canada. Then your bike may be on the same airplane together with you!
Check their available cities in Canada and the destinations, they may add or remove locations every year. This years PDF is here.
(and a local copy here: FlyYourBike_brochure_en).
You can contact Air Canada Cargo by email or phone (+1-800-387-4865). I suggest to call them, as I got some vague and even wrong information by email!
To book a flight you have to call them anyways, it’s not possible to book online or by email. The booking must be done at least two weeks in advance. Payment is by credit card only when dropping off the bike. It’s not possible to pay in cash or by bank transfer.
You must get a ‚Dangerous Goods‘ certificate from a licensed agency. This form basically declares that your bike is a dangerous good and there is no more than 4L of fuel in the tank. You also declare that there are no lithium batteries, pressurized cans (like WD40, chain lube), etc in your bike. The complete list of forbidden items can be found in this document: Important Instructions
Although noted in the document, I didn’t need to unlock the panniers nor unplug the battery.
You can get a certificate per email for about 130CAD, I used this agent: email@example.com
and sent this Motorcycle Declaration Form.
Print three copies of the certificate and bring it to the airport when dropping off the bike.
BUT ask Air Canada first if they recommend an agency in the city you are flying from! Because in Montreal they expect the agent to come to the airport to make sure your bike is compliant! It took me some time to convince them to accept my certificate without the agent being present!
In other cities/airports they didn’t want an agent on site, according to other bikers!
The weight indicated on the certificate is very important and must be within 3% of the actual weight of the bike when dropping it off at Air Canada Cargo! So try to weigh it with all the luggage exactly as you want to ship it (I added my pants/jacket/boots) before applying for the certificate!
Mine was off by 20kg so I had to get a new one while being at the airport…
When booking the flight, you must give them addresses in Canada and at the destination. I just used the addresses of my hostels.
You can drop the bike off at the airport one day before the flight or even on the same day in the morning, if the flight is in the evening.
I dropped my bike the day before the cargo flight, which was two days before my own departure. I did not fly with Air Canada because I didn’t get the discount in the winter.
It was snowing so they let me drive into the warehouse to get changed and I repacked my luggage. A security officer will put your bags through a standard airport luggage scanner. If you can easily remove your panniers, then they scan them too.
As I didn’t want to remove the panniers, I had to open them and the officer had a quick glance. He didn’t find my booster…
But I was not allowed to keep my empty cherry cans!
The motorcycle will NOT be crated, they just put it on a pallet and strap it down. All bags and panniers will stay on the bike! I strapped a big bag onto the back seat containing my boots, jacket, camping gear, etc. Everything has to be strapped to the bike, nothing is allowed on the pallet itself. I took the helmet with me onto my own flight.
Then they weighed the whole bike. This number must be within 3% of the dangerous goods certificate!
There is no customs inspection or any customs paperwork! I didn’t get a TIP (Temporary Import Paper) when coming to Canada, so there was nothing to stamp out of the country.
I did NOT need to unplug the battery! I also took the key with me. As long as the steering is unlocked and you don’t have an acoustic alarm, they don’t need the key. As stated before, no more than 4L in the tank (they didn’t check).
When everything is done you have to pay with credit card to get the airway bill.
There is a tracking number on it for the Air Canada Cargo homepage.
Now I had to find a way to get back to the city. There is no public transport or wifi at the airport’s cargo area…
Here is the procedure to get the bike back in Casablanca. This will be different at each destination. Get in contact with the local agency beforehand to ask about the costs and procedure. You can find a contact list here.
If you are on the same flight as the bike, you may first go to your accommodation and come back the next day to retrieve it, as it may take a few hours to unload and transport it to the warehouse and especially to prepare the cargo papers.
My motorcycle arrived one day before me. So I was sure it already was unloaded and waiting in the warehouse. The cargo area in Casablanca airport is just 2km south of the arrival terminal. I got a taxi driver down to 60MAD (6USD) from the requested 300MAD (30USD) for this short ride.
There is no Air Canada Cargo here, I had to go to the warehouse of swiftair.
First I had to give them the airway bill and pay the administrative fee (520MAD, 52USD) to start the process. Then an inspector will come to check your bike (the usual things like chassis and motor number number, etc). There seems to be only two inspectors in this cargo area, one at FedEx and the other at aramex.
Mine was from aramex so I went there to his office to do the paperwork.
I had to show the motorcycle papers, passport and insurance.
For Morocco you can get an European motorcycle insurance, the green card. Make sure that the country is included! I had to call my Swiss insurance beforehand to include Morocco and send me a new creen card.
After the inspector is done you have to go the the customs administration office, which is a few hundred meters east of the cargo area. There is only one officer who knows how to make the correct paperwork for the TIP. His name is Mr Tscharwik (I have no idea how to write his name, that’s just a guess!). You have to ask to find him (preferably in French), he has a private office and is not working at the normal customs counters.
He will again check your papers and insurance and then start to enter everything into a computer… very slowly… he then did a data transfer from one computer to the other with an USB stick, as he knows nothing about network transfers…
Then he printed my TIP and two small, credit card sized papers to keep in my wallet. The police may ask for the credit card sized papers, keep them save. The TIP is valid for 6 months.
Now go back to the cargo area and finish the paperwork with the inspector. He needs to copy the TIP and the credit card sized papers. Keep the originals! He wanted to give me the copies, but I insisted on the originals (like in every other country I‘ve been). He then stamped the warehouse paper and I went back to swiftair.
There you have to pay an additional 630MAD (63USD) for every day of storage! They don‘t count one day as 24h! So if your bike arrives 5min short of midnight, you have to pay the whole day!
As of Air Canada Cargo the first 24h are free, but this does not count for dangerous goods in Morocco!
So I had to pay another 1260MAD (126USD), as my bike was there over midnight…
Then I finally got my bike back!
It took about 4 hours.
There is one last customs check when leaving the cargo area (showing the papers again, no luggage search) and I was free to go!
- at Air Canada Cargo Montreal
- at swiftair Casablanca