Tapiola CF011: Arrival 4/29/2010

Tapiola's location as of 4/21. It is currently out of the reach of tracking and will reappear soon as it nears the US East coast

The mighty Tapiola Ro-Ro ship

Today I received an email from Wallenius in Baltimore with the notice of arrival, but only after I called asking about it.

Page 1 of the Notice of Arrival

This is  a document formally notifying the cargo’s recipient/owner of the vessel’s arrival in port.  It is typically issued a day or two prior to arrival.   My car is on the Tapiola’s voyage CF011 which was scheduled to arrive 4/28.  Since I hadn’t yet received the arrival notice this morning,  I decided to phone Wallenius in Baltimore and after a 2 minute conversation with their customer care rep, a few minutes later I received an email with the arrival notice.  You just have to stay on top of things all the way.  The arrival date is now 4/29.

With the arrival notice in hand, the broker can then initiate the customs clearing process, so I immediately emailed it to her.  The arrival notice also included a charge of $75.95 for THS and WHD; don’t ask me what those are.  It’s pocket change at this point.  Of course, you just can’t call them with your Visa and pay the charge.  Most every aspect of maritime shipping seems surrounded in arcane terminology and processes.  There is *nothing* customer friendly about shipping maritime cargo.  Check out the streamlined payment instructions below, from the arrival notice.

The customs clearing process can be undertaken by anyone, a broker is not required.  I did it myself for the first two cars I imported.  For the last one I used JA Steer in Baltimore, so I can comment on the pros and cons of each approach.  The first couple of times I did it myself so I could fully understand the process.  You simply show up at customs with the arrival notice, bill of lading, bill of sale, foreign title and completed EPA form 3520-1 and DOT form HS-7.  Any car whose first registration took place at least 25 years ago is exempt from EPA and DOT requirements.  Both forms have provisions to indicate if your vehicle satisfies this.

Go here for the official source: http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/trade/basic_trade/importing_car.xml

With my broker doing the clearing, I will receive the clearance documents via email.  With that in hand I’ll go to the DMV and obtain temporary WI tags and fly out to pick it up.  At least that’s the plan…  I’ve not tried to obtain tags for a foreign registered vehicle on the spot before.  One of our Wisconsin Citroen club members has.  There was a lot of pleading involved.

2008: Lonely Fiat, awaiting pick-up.

In addition, things like the charge on the arrival notice can be potentially paid by the broker immediately since they have a working relationship and pre-established bonds with the shipping companies.  In ’08 when I was picking up the Fiat, a last-minute unexpected charge came up for something like $250 and they wouldn’t accept credit cards, personal checks or cash!  It was late in the day on a Friday and there was no time for me to go exit the port, with its multiple layers 0f post-9/11 security, and go to an ATM many miles away. A quick call to the broker and she was able to fax a document promising payment.  This was priceless.  The cost for the broker’s service?  All of $125.  Money very well spent.

On my next post, I will discuss a new security requirement that can render your import subject to $5,000 fines and delays.  It’s called the ISF,  Importer Security Filing and detail how I narrowly escaped such penalties.

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