Picking up at Baltimore’s Mid-Atlantic Terminal

Long day:  got up at 4 am to make the 6 am Air Tran to BWI.  Checked the bag and wheeled it over to the TSA scanning machines for checked bags and decided to hover around teh area where I could see what would happen to my bag when they discovered the gear oil, tools and all I was carrying.  Again, it was all TSA-approved, but you never know who’s working the shift.  They opened the bag and spent about 10 minutes looking  at everything and to my relief it all went back in the bag.

The flight arrived ten minutes, I retrieved my bag, got in a cab and to my surprise, when I told the cab driver the address where I was headed he asked me if I was picking up a car.  Wow, how many people actually fly in to do this?! The address was that of a trucking staging area near the terminal; basically a run down, empty gravel lot.  I was supposed to meet Kelly in a blue Jeep.  There about 4 vehicles scattered about the lot with people just loitering in or around them; maybe more TWIC escorts?  I met Kelly, we completed some paperwork, she ascertained I had all my papers to retrieve the car including plates and registration.  When Kelly saw my camera, she said to put it away when we got to the port.  I remembered form the last time how uptight everyone got when I was trigger happy snapping pictures of the port area.  There is a post-9/11 law or regulation prohibiting photography in the marine port area.   So all I have are iPhone photos for now.  I have some other photos I took with my Canon but I forgot to pack my CF card adapter for my laptop so I will have to update the post with those when I get home Sunday.

Kelly then handed me off to Naomi, who was to be my escort for the next hour.   A couple of calls to her dentist (to figure out why they couldn’t find her X-rays) later, we arrived at the terminal.  She said her sinus headache was killing her.  not sure if the two were related.

Naomi, TWIC Escort

The TWIC credentials

After a cursory security clearance at the entry point we proceeded in to the Mid-Atlantic terminal office.

Entry security checkpoint

Mid Atlantic terminal office

Naomi slithered away to make some more phone calls while I figured out where to start out…:

The MAT office

This was actually unexpectedly easy.  I surrendered my “Delivery Order”, one last document I received from my broker, and that is all they needed to see in addition to a ticket with my name and other info on it which the entry guard printed out for me.  No surprise fees, no long waits.  I then walked to “Shed 8”, where the people who actually retrieve the car are located.

"Shed 8"

In this way...

We the followed a guy in a white pick up truck, and there it was:

There it is!

It was behind four Jeep vehicles with UK plates and right hand steering.  Wonder what they are doing here?

The car appeared to be in the exact same condition as when I dropped it off in Zeebruggge.  That was a relief.  It was pretty dirty from sitting out for two weeks and the glass was filthy inside and out.  Wonder why it was so foggy on the inside…

The car started after cranking for about 15 seconds since the gas had probably drained all the way back to the fuel tank.  The car felt really good; that engine just purrs.  I was surprised to be reminded how strong it is and how nice the car drives.

After I left the terminal I had some interesting mishaps but I will document that on my next post tomorrow when I’m hopefully able to post pictures from my Canon camera.

The car however is eager to be driven and I will depart tomorrow morning around 8 am headed out to meet Mike Self and the BMW CCA Buckeye Chapter for their Spring kick-off party just outside of Dayton, Ohio.


Leaving in the morning

Flying out to Baltimore tomorrow at 6 am.  The bag I’m checking weighs 49 lbs and will surely arise TSA’s interest given the assortment of oily fluids, wires and batteries; hey, it’s all TSA blessed to go in checked baggage.

Oils, Water Wetter, batteries on the right side, tool bag, funnel, etc.

I’m planning on observing the proceedings as it goes through the scanning machine in the baggage check area.  When I get to DC, I plan on changing the gearbox, differential and engine oil at my sister’s house prior to embarking on the 800 mile return trip to Milwaukee Saturday.  I’m packing Red Line’s MTL and 75W-90 oils for the gear box and differential since it’s not something you pick up at most auto parts stores.  Also in the suitcase is a fairly complete set of tools, including  bailing wire and duct tape, the absolute fail-safes for any eventuality.  The choice of the latter was validated  this week by the Myth Busters clan, when they successfully put back together in running condition a vintage Diamante (it had it coming…) that had been hacked apart by mad woman Carrie and an underutilized fire brigade eager to put to use their newly-acquired jaws of life.

I’m also packing about 40 AA batteries for use as my 12 V supply for charging duties (GPS, iPhone, etc.) with my improvised cigarette lighter socket since this is a 6 volt car.

12V supply for my 6 volt car

My flight arrives at 9 am and A-1 Escort is all set to meet me near the entrance to the terminal at around 10 am.  They charge $45 and hour and I fully expect to have the car out of the terminal by the 11:30 lunch break.

Until tomorrow!

WI DMV comes through

Over the weekend, I realized that I would need all the original DOT/EPA/import clearance paperwork to present at the terminal in order to be able to retrieve my car.  Since I had FedEx’d all of that to the DMV in Madison, I decided to call Andrea this morning and make sure that a) She’d received my paperwork and they would be able to issue me registration and plates, and b) She would send me back all the original paperwork.

She returned my call around noon and indicated the FedEx had only showed up on her desk this morning.  The good news is, she will get temporary plates/registration and my original paperwork FedEx’d back out to me today.  However, she indicated there is a link missing in the ownership chain and we need to establish that before I can be granted permanent plates.  The German title I provided is in the name of a prior owner that Stehling, the dealer whom I purchased the 1800 from, sold the car to in April of 2009.  That owner kept it for 6 months and then turned it back to Stehling as a trade for a Mercedes 220 that he just had to have.  I received no documentation clearly establishing Stehling as having bought the car from the man in whose name the German title is.  I need that documentation so I fired an email to Herr Stehling and we’ll see what he has to say.

Here’s a couple of photos of the Meilenwerk just to keep this thing somewhat savory…  I still intend on writing a post about it.  If you missed it before, see my earlier post to get a flavor of what it is: http://wp.me/pQ8YF-U

Not one, but two!

Customs cleared! Planning the trip to Baltimore

I’m a little late in posting; busy week at work.  On Tuesday May 4 I received an email from the broker that Customs had cleared the car!

Customs release email

This was much quicker than expected!  I immediately reviewed my schedule to see if it would be possible for me to get out there Friday (yesterday) to pick up the car.  No way to make that happen.  I had work commitments I couldn’t possibly get out of.  In addition, I still had to get registration and plates from Wisconsin DMV and that was to be an unknown process in terms of timeline since the official line is that it takes 6 to 8 weeks…

I called the Wallenius customer service people to see how much it costs to leave the car at the port until I can get there.  They indicated that my car is now in demurrage –another one of those wonderfully arcane shipping terms, look it up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demurrage.  I get 5 days of storage free of charge.  The second 5-day period of demurrage is charged at $0.34 per 110 lbs for the 5 days with a $10.12 minimum charge.  Doing quick math tells me my featherweight 1800 falls in the minimum charge bracket.  The scheme for the third 5-day period is similar but at $0.61 per pound.  I was afraid to ask what happens to my car after it sits there for longer than 15 days.  I should be there to rescue it by the time 10 days have elapsed so I’m in for only $10.12.  We’ll see…

When I picked up the Fiat in ’08 I was faced with unexpected charges for which they would take no cash nor personal checks or CC’s so I’ve placed my broker on alert in case I need to call her and have her post an official payment for me if that happens again.

Tuesday morning I called Wisconsin DMV headquarters in Madison to inquire as to obtaining temporary plates and registration on the spot.  They indicated it’s not their MO but if the local branch feels up to it they might be able to fax the documents  to Madison for an on-the-spot registration issuance.  This is what my friend Mark did when he recently imported his Citroen GS: http://www.candokaraoke.com/ When I got to the DMV, everybody was pretty friendly; then the clerk called Madison and was told the paperwork had to be sent in for their review and it would take 6 – 8 weeks, end of story.  Man, this is not going to be easy.  I went back in the car and immediately dialed Madison again and related my story to Sharon, the clerk that took my call.  I put in an impassioned plea for help that was compelling enough for her to put me on hold 10 minutes to discuss the matter with her “supervisors” (bad enough to have one, she has two).  She returned to the line to say that if I was willing to spend on overnight mailing of the paperwork and an overnight return mailer back to me, and oh, the $4 expedite fee, they would turn it around in a day for me if I addressed it to “Andrea, Room 851”, her supervisor.  At this point I was willing to walk to Madison to get this deal done, FedEx fees and the $4 expedite charge seemed like a genuine bargain.

I returned home from a business trip at 6 pm Thursday evening and rushed home to with enough time to web search the closest FedEx drop off that I could make that evening.  Lucky enough, it was a few blocks away with a 7:15 pm pick up time.  I typed a letter to Andrea profusely thanking her and detailing all that I was enclosing in the envelope.  I placed all the documentation, forms and fees in as much a foolproof layout as I could and got to the FedEx box around 6:45.  After all this, I still had time to make it to my son’s Alex (10) baseball game where he hit a home run but they lost the game after all.

FedEx tracking confirms delivery of my envelope to them at 9:43 Friday but I can tell they didn’t get the return shipment to me since the FedEx tracking for that slip is not yet live.

My plan now is to fly out next Friday at 6 am arriving into BWI at 8:55.  Port hours are 8 am to 3:30 with an  11:30 to 1:00  lunch break.  I need to pack some tools for the trip so I’ll have to check the bag but I should make it to the port terminal to get this done before their generous lunch break.  Complicating this is the post-911 port security requirements (TWIC) so that a regular Joe just can’t stroll in to the port terminal area without having a special TWIC pass.  This pass is sufficiently difficult and expensive to obtain that it has spawned a cottage industry of escort services who do have TWIC clearance to get folks like me into the ports.  The tricky thing is, if you get caught in the middle of the lunch break with your escort, the meter is running and the money just continues to flow on this project.  Small consolation that it’s dollars and not Euros any more…    I’ll be calling A-1 Escorts this week (not making it up) to inquire as to their charges.

I have yet to reach Lothar in Maryland to see if we can connect and tour his collection.

The 1800 has arrived, but…

On Thursday the 29th, the Tapiola arrived at the port of Baltimore.  That same day I submitted all the alphabet soup of forms to my broker:  EPA, DOT, POA and BOS and asked when I could expect to receive Customs clearance.  Her email reply at 2:38 pm was:


Entry was sent to customs today and once I have it released, I will forward copies to you.



I replied asking what is the soonest that she would expect to hear from Customs.  She replied:

Tomorrow afternoon (Friday) I may have some results and hard copy stamped by customs by Monday

Woo hoo!!  This would mean I can proceed to firm up my plans, buy an airplane ticket and obtain my temporary WI tags.   Excellent…

On Friday morning at 9:30 her email comes in:

Luis, good morning

Your shipment is on hold by Customs and they should inspect it next week. I keep you posted about the release.


Patricia Carvalho Ruehle

Aaaargh… Although it is to be expected, particularly in light of not having filed the ISF as required prior to sailing, this is still a disappointment.  It means I have to play it by ear this week.  I have checked and I can buy a one-way flight to BWI the day before for only $10 more, $109, as opposed to buying a week in advance for $99.  Not bad.  I am also trying to plan a return trip that includes a couple of interesting Bimmerphile stops.  A visit to Lothar Schuettler   http://www.bmwvccca.com/images/Article-Dec09-Lothar.pdf who has what is perhaps the best collection of vintage BMWs in the US.  In addition, Mike Self, of BMWCCA Roundel fame, lives in Dayton, Ohio.  Dayton is on my way back and if he can make it happen, we would try to get together a group of ’02 aficionados, and maybe even a Neue Klasse to meet on my way back.

I’ll post as soon as I know anything…

Updated position on the Tapiola

The ship is once again in the range of Vesseltracker’s tracking and nearing Baltimore:

"X" marks the spot as of early this evening

Spoke to the broker today and she sent a power of attorney form so that she can complete all the transactions on my behalf.  She also sent the requisite  EPA Forms and D.O.T. Forms.  You can click on these links to view or download the forms.  She will also go ahead and pay the $75 charge on my behalf and add it to my bill.  This is quicker, easier and cheaper than me having to either wire the money or overnight a money order, since the payment instruction per yesterday’s post are so not customer friendly.

The ISF or “10+2”, is a relatively new regulation to be enforced by US Customs and Border Protection.  See an informative brochure here: http://www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/newsroom/publications/trade/import_sf_carry.ctt/import_sf_carry.pdf

Since it is the importer’s burden to fulfill this requirement, the shipper and broker in Belgium didn’t see it fit to mention this to me.  The ISF requires a filing be completed online at least 24 hours before the cargo is laden on board the ship.  It’s not clear to me if the filing can be completed by an individual or if it requires a broker to do it.  I only found out about the ISF when my broker asked me if the shipper or broker in Belgium had done it, and course they didn’t, they are not supposed to.  So my broker did it but in principle,  I would be subject to penalties as high as $5,000.  She indicated CBP is in a flexible enforcement stage so no penalties would apply.  I emailed CBP and incredibly, Mr. Craig Clark from the ISF implementation group at CBP called me back within 24 hours and corroborated what my broker indicated in regards to a flexible enforcement period.  He also indicated that they are taking a “common sense” approach to enforcement and even if the flexible enforcement period had lapsed, it would be unlikely that an individual doing what I did would be fined.  He did indicate that a non-intrusive inspection “NII” could be carried out on the car.  Sounded as if they would run the car through a massive X-Ray machine.  This would be a vast improvement over an old-fashioned physical inspection such as they carried out on my Fiat, as evidenced by a back seat which was pried off  but not put back in place.  The NII could delay delivery by a day or so.  Not bad trade-off, if this truly means we will keep dirty nukes and the like off our shores…

So I recognize this is getting a little monotonous now with all the exciting maritime news, so here are some gratuitous shots of some of the the cool rides on display or for sale at the Meilenwerk in Berlin just to keep everybody awake for now…  I still plan on writing a post on the Meilenwerk.  If you missed it, go back to the “Pick up (and the stall)” post to read what the Meilenwerk is all about.  Click on a picture to see it full size.

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.