Canada & Alaska

Michele & Stephen's trip in 2013

Shipping Man Back to the UK

We shipped Man from Antwerp to Halifax in 2012 booking through SeaBridge in Germany. We used SeaBridge again to ship Man back to the UK.

One of the main reasons for choosing SeaBridge was that they specifically allow you to leave the contents in your motorhome, whereas many other shippers do not. To do this SeaBridge appear to have made agreements with ACL (the shipping company) and shipping agents in (at least) Antwerp and Halifax.

Although SeaBridge do not have any agreement with a shipping agent in Liverpool they will (if you ask) arrange shipping from Halifax to Liverpool. But you are on your own when you come to collect your vehicle.

The arrangements in Halifax could not be simpler. About four months before you wish to ship you make a booking with SeaBridge by e-mail. No deposit is required. About ten days before you are due to ship you confirm with SeaBridge and contact their agent in Halifax. (When it comes to visiting their agent's office in downtown Halifax it is probably better to leave your vehicle out of town (at Walmart?) and take a taxi or public transport into town).

If you have a propane tank or you intend to ship your propane bottles back to Europe you will need an inspection and a certificate to say you have no propane on board. It is far simpler and cheaper just to dump your (Canadian/USA) propane bottles before you ship. If you do this no certificate is needed.

A few days before shipping you visit SeaBridge's agent, show them your propane certificate (if required) pay their fee (Can$150.00 in 2013) and collect your shipping papers. On the appointed day (usually the Thursday before the Saturday or Sunday shipping) you take your vehicle to the port (Fairview Cove Container Terminal N44.662947° W63.624442°). Although both SeaBridge and their agent say you can deliver your vehicle to the port any time up to mid-day, this is no true! You must be there before 10:45 or they will tell you "to come back tomorrow". I would recommend you get there before 10:00.

You will need to leave the keys necessary to drive your vehicle in the cab. Neither the port nor the shipping company require access to the inside of your vehicle nor the external lockers. However I recommend leaving your (empty) propane locker open and if possible access to your starter battery.

Because customs may need access to all of your vehicle on arrival it make sense to hide a full set of keys somewhere that you can easily describe. This can save a lot of hassle and expense.

Our ship was delayed by four days, however we were still able to deliver Man to the port on the day planned. Some people arrange to fly out of Halifax on the day they leave their vehicle at the port. This can be risky, had we been 15 minutes later delivering our vehicle to the port we would have been told to bring it back the following day! That would have been inconvenient if we had a flight booked on the same day. We planed to spend two nights in Halifax before our flight.

When the ship leaves port SeaBridge will e-mail you an invoice, this must be paid by bank transfer before SeaBridge will instruct the shipping company to release the vehicle to you or your shipping agent. Shipping costs from Halifax to Liverpool work out at about €55.00 Euros per cubic metre in 2013. This does not including insurance which can (if you buy it) add about 1% of the value of your vehicle to the bill.

It is probably not strictly necessary to have an agent in Liverpool but it is certainly convenient and not expensive. We searched on-line and contacted six agents with addresses in Liverpool. The one we selected (and who was later recommended to us by ACL was Lombard Shipping and Forwarding Ltd. I dealt with Mr. Bill Harper - Recommended.

The total bill from Lombard was under £120.00 UKP, and most of this was port fees. Lombard arranged for customs clearance, which we received within three hours of the ship docking and without having to reveal the whereabouts of the full set of keys. When your vehicle is cleared for collection you will receive (by e-mail) a PIN Code and a customs release form. Armed with these two documents and your passport you can then collect your vehicle from the port.

Although it took less than three hours to collect Man from the docks it was not a smooth operation. The main security gate told me to park at an unidentifiable car park and board a security bus, which dropped me off at the wrong place, was recalled to collect me, took me somewhere else, close to but not at the right place, which I then found on foot. It was closed for no obvious reason. Man was near by, unlocked with the keys in, and with a flat battery because switches had been left on. etc etc. I suggest you wear old clothes, boots and a high visibility jacket for tramping round Liverpool docks.