What are the procedures when shipping a motorcycle from the United States to Mexico?


Shipping a motorcycle from the United States to Mexico is not as easy as some might think it would be. Trying to do this process on your own may be almost impossible, especially if you have never shipped anything across international borders. Using a reputable auto transport company who has experience with international shipping can make the process go a lot smoother. Ship Vehicles has experience with shipping internationally. We have been in the auto transport industry for over 30 years. We know what to expect when getting your shipment across the border.

How do I prepare the motorcycle for shipment?

When you are shipping a motorcycle across international borders, it is essential to make sure that it is prepared correctly. By preparing the motorcycle correctly for transport, you are limiting the amount of damage that could occur. Auto transport companies who ship crated motorcycles have specific requirements for preparation. These need to be followed precisely to ensure safe transport.

  • Empty the gas tank of your motorcycle. Not only will this help reduce the weight of your crate, but it will help ensure the safety of the motorcycle.
  • Take all of the connections off of the battery
  • Make sure all of the tires are correctly inflated
  • If your motorcycle’s mirrors will allow, fold them inward against the body of the motorcycle.
  • Remove any attachments from the motorcycle so that they do not become dislodged during transport or damaged.
  • Inspect the motorcycle and take note of any preexisting damages. This will help with an insurance claim if one is needed after transport.

Properly Crating the Motorcycle

Overseas or over border shipping requires crating. Some crates are made explicitly for motorcycles that can be rented or purchased, or you can make your own. The essential parts of these crates are the straps for securing the motorcycle inside of the crate. These straps can significantly reduce the risk of damage during transport.

Cost-Effective Crating

Single-use crates are a cost-effective solution for shipping a motorcycle across international borders. These economy crates are great when return shipping is not necessary for a shipper. They are made of 3/4” plywood and are ISPM-15 compliant. Each of the single-use crates is equipped with a front tire cradle, four soft tie straps, and D-rings mounted to the panel. Once the motorcycle is secured to the base of the crate, the sides are constructed to protect it on all sides.

What does ISPM-15 compliant mean?

The ISPM-15 standard is short for International Standards For Phytosanitary Measures Number 15. This measure was created by the International Plant Protection Convention to address the need to treat wood greater than 6 mm thick when shipping between countries.

The point of this regulation is to help prevent the spread of disease and insects that could affect ecosystems that they do not belong in. This is a lot like the regulation of cleaning foreign soil off of a vehicle being imported into the United States. ISPM-15 standard products are debarked and heat treated with methyl bromide before being stamped or branded with proof of compliance.

The Process of Shipping to Mexico

Using a professional auto transport company to ship your motorcycle to Mexico can make the process easy. Those transport companies that have experience shipping to Mexico know what it takes to get your motorcycle safely and legally across the international border. There are also a lot of documents that are required for bringing goods into Mexico, and an experienced transport company can help in the preparation of these documents.

Preparing Documents for Transport

Transporting a motorcycle into Mexico requires a specific set of documents. If you utilize a professional transport service, these documents will be easy to prepare. Having all of the documentation ready before arriving at the border makes for an easier crossing.

Before Beginning the Transport Process to Mexico

When shipping from the United States into Mexico, you will require certain documents before shipping your motorcycle. These documents are the Bill of Lading and the Letter of Instructions. It is important to have these prepared before the motorcycle is picked up for transit. The documents are essential for initiating the shipment.

Bill of Lading

The Bill of Lading acts as a receipt for the transported object. A traditional Bill of Lading will include information about the transport company, any shipping broker used, the origination and destination of the shipment, the information about the motorcycle, the condition of the motorcycle, and the terms of conditions of the transport. The Bill of Lading is legally binding once it is signed.

Shipper’s Letter of Instruction

Anytime something is exported from the United States, it must be accompanied by a Shipper’s Letter of Instruction. This letter outlines the permission given to the exporter to act as the authorized party for the United States Customs export control process.

The items included on the Shipper’s Letter of Instruction are:

  • Information of the shipper
  • Information for the custom’s broker
  • If there is a consignee, their information will be listed
  • Description of the merchandise
    • Pick-up number
    • Weight
    • Type of merchandise
    • Number of pallets shipped
    • Equipment type
  • Billing information for the shipment


During the United States and Mexico Border Crossing Process

The next phase of documentation that will be required for your exported motorcycle occurs during the border crossing process. These documents include the DODA, Cargo Manifest, and Canceled Bond.


The DODA is an acronym for Documento de Operacion para Despacho Aduanero (Customs Clearance Operation Document) and is generated through Mexican customs. This can also be done through a designated customs broker online, which will prove a quick response code (QRC). The QRC supplies a link to a URL that lists all the related pedimentos. Pedimentos are the customs duties and fees.

The way the DODA works is the freight forward will present Mexico customs agents with the printed out DODA. The QR code will be scanned, and the pedimentos covered by the DODA will be shown. At this point, the system will determine whether or not an inspection is required for the imported items.

According to Mexico customs, the DODA offers these benefits:

  • Expedites the customs clearance process as much as five times faster
  • Prevents and helps with error detection
  • Reduces the amount of time random selection takes
  • Traces the status of customs operations

Sections included on the DODA include:

  • Customs and section (for the customs office)
  • CAAT number, which is the alphanumeric code for the carrier
  • The transport identification number
  • The validated pedimentos

Cargo Manifest

A cargo manifest and a Bill of Lading are very similar documents but have unique roles in the shipping process. The Bill of Lading acts as a legal instrument in the shipment that focuses on the ownership of the cargo, whereas the cargo manifest focuses on the cargo only. The size and weight, as well as the quantity of the cargo, are listed on this manifest.

Every company that touches the cargo will end up producing a Bill of Lading for the cargo, but the cargo manifest will remain the same throughout the entire journey.

The information included on the cargo manifest includes:

  • The transport document numbers
  • The shipper or consignee
  • The identification number for the Bill of Lading
  • Marks and numbers
  • The type and quantity of packages
  • The total gross weight of the shipment
  • All of the freight details such as charges and other pertinent information

Canceled Bond

The bond will be sent to the customs broker to be canceled. The bond includes information for:

  • The broker filer code
  • If the transaction is a single transaction or continuous
  • Date of execution
  • Identity of the transaction secured by the bond
  • Date of transaction
  • Limit of liability

Once the broker has canceled the bond, the shipment can then make its way across the border and into Mexico.

Documentation During Transport in Mexico (Carta Porte)

While the motorcycle shipment makes its way through Mexico to the final destination, it must be accompanied by the Carta Porte. The Carta Porte is a legal document that proves not only the existence of the cargo but the contractual agreement between the shipper and the transport company. The carrier of the cargo will issue the Carta Porte, and it outlines the terms of transport. The information included is:

  • Transport company or carrier’s information
  • The shipper or consignee’s information
  • Full description of the goods being transported
  • Observations
  • The plate numbers
  • The overall value of the cargo being transported
  • The terms of the payment for the transport

Documents at the Time of Delivery

When your motorcycle is delivered to the destination you requested, the Carta Porte will become the proof of delivery. When the Carta Porte is signed by the shipper or the consignee upon delivery, it acts as the proof that the cargo was shipped and delivered as specified in the instructions.

Like with a Bill of Lading and United States shipments, the Carta Porte is where any damages are listed. For insurance purposes, these must be documented and signed by the parties to ensure they are acknowledged.

Understanding the Transit Times

Shipping your motorcycle may take a little longer, depending on the distance you need for it to go. There are rules for transport drivers when taking goods anywhere, even domestically. The rules have been established to ensure driver safety when traveling long periods of time over long distances. The transport company may have specific guidelines for their drivers to make sure transport is done safely and efficiently.

There are important factors to take into consideration with your shipment that can affect the time it takes to reach the destination. These factors are the route, holidays, weather, resting times, and other unexpected circumstances.

How to Roughly Calculate Transport Times

Most of the professional transport companies that export goods from the United States try to estimate mileage per day to equal roughly 550 miles. Understand that if you are shipping something from Texas to Mexico, it will have a shorter transit time than something shipped from Chicago.

Transport drivers are required to take breaks during their transport. The regulations vary depending on the country. In the United States, a driver can drive for a maximum of 11 hours after they have taken ten consecutive hours out of service. In addition to this, a driver should take a 30-minute rest period within each 8-hour driving period.

At least two days should be factored in for customs. The process of shipping items over the United States and Mexican border can take as much as two days to complete. Most transport companies will factor more time into your estimate than is necessary for this reason.

The last set of factors that influence the amount it takes to ship your motorcycle to Mexico is the time of year you are shipping it. Different seasons bring different weather patterns. Weekends generally bring high volumes of import into Mexico. The same applies to the summer months. If you plan on importing during this time, there is a likelihood that it will take even longer to get through customs. If you need a quicker shipping experience, try to avoid holidays, weekends, and summer months.

Choosing the Right Transport Service

Shipping a motorcycle from the United States into Mexico doesn’t have to be a drawn-out process. Using a professional transport company to crate and transport your motorcycle takes all the guesswork out of crossing at the international border. Customs can be an intimidating process if you have never gone through the steps of importing an item into Mexico.

Hiring an auto transport company can help get all of the documents needed for importation into Mexico. Ship Vehicles offers full-service international shipping, which means you only need to supply the information, and we will do the paperwork for you. Using an experienced international shipping company can offer comfort when taking your motorcycle across borders. Call Ship Vehicles for a free quote if you need to ship your motorcycle to a destination in Mexico.