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Shipping car to Japan Port and container unloading day

Shipping car to Japan Port and container unloading day

Shipping car to Japan Port and container unloading day

Got a phone call from my consignee who is doing the clearing and transportation of the car. Will be heading down to the port to unload the container. The estimated time of travel was 17 days, and it was exactly on time. The boat left Vancouver and stopped by Tokyo and then Nagoya then Kobe. I had full access to tracking the ship.

I paid approximately $2100USD. $1600USD was the base cost, I topped up with insurance. And in my mind this should have covered (more on this later):

  • Vancouver: Shipping from Vancouver to Kobe
  • Vancouver: Container loading in Vancouver and all paperwork
  • Kobe: Container unloading from the ship to land
  • Kobe: Container was brought to some holding area
  • Kobe: Container was brought through an X-Ray machine and went through customs
  • Kobe: Container was moved to the secondary drop off location for unpacking/unloading

Clearance and Pickup Procedures

I went to the secondary location with the consignee. Normally the consignee gets notified via an arrival notice within a week or less of port arrival. The consignee is then responsible to file entry documents to the customs, arrange for payment of any duties, taxes, and other fees. Then it’s time to pick up and move the stuff with a car carrier.

Clearance involves preparation and submission of papers required to the authority. It’s so complicated in Japanese, and this is when I hired a customs broker for assistance. If anything gets delayed, I’m on the hook for storage fees at any location. We’re talking hundreds of USD per day. A few days passing by would easily surpass the shipping charges.

So anyways, the container arrives, and the company opens it. Technically I’m responsible to remove the car from the container and then manage a truck to move it away to the next destination. However once they open the container I notice:

  1. The car has been tied down to the container – this was expected
  2. The drivers side window was opened
  3. The doors can’t be opened at all. How the hell did someone get out of that without stepping on my seats?!??
  4. The car has had some wood nailed to the ground so the car wouldn’t be able to go forwards and backwards – not expected
  5. These wooden brackets were extremely secured to the floor of the container. See pictures
  6. The wooden brackets were within millimeters away from my wheels, with carpet blocking the sides from being scratched.

Thankfully the staff there helped by using a forklift to break the wood and lift it slowly and to remove all of the nails from the floor of the container. Without their help, I wouldn’t have been able to do it myself within 30 minutes. It would have taken me days, with much sweating and cursing. They also cleaned up the area with the many nails all over the ground. After removing that barrier, now the car can be turned on and reversed easily right? Wrong.

After that, the next issue I noticed the car would not turn on. There were 2 keys, and its not possible both keys would have died on the way here. So it must have been the battery! Trying to figure out how to access the battery, while the trunk was closed was going to be tricky. I ended up doing some cirque du soleil acrobatics and getting into the drivers seat, and then to the back seat to access the trunk through the ski bag area. Thankfully again, the rear seats were unlocked so I could pull the trunk open from inside. 

I found the battery was disconnected, and tied away. That was an easy fix and then the car was unloaded safely.

Some key bits of information I was unaware of:

  1. The window was left open the entire trip. Understandable that someone needs to get inside, but wouldn’t have unlocking all doors and leaving the trunk open suffice? It was quite dusty when I got into the car.
  2. Nails and wood were used close to the body and wheels of the car. Too close for comfort. I thought they would tie it down?
  3. Every port has some kind of charge for receiving a container. This case, mine was around 88,000 Yen. Around $800USD – unexpected

After speaking to my consignee…. The bill of lading B/L, had some very important keywords. CY/CY. This means Container Yard. The shipping company’s responsibilities STOP at the Container Yard once moved. he shipment type should have been CFS.


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