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Old 08-22-2013, 06:48 PM   #1
Normlas OP
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As a foreigner - can I buy a bike in the US and cross borders with it?

Hi all,
I am in the early stages of planning a long bike trip and need some help with a couple of big questions that will have a large bearing on how I do this. My questions are around the option for me to buy a bike overseas to do this trip. Shipping costs are huge and bike prices are much cheaper in the US than they are where I live.

I live in New Zealand and have a NZ passport, can I come to the US as a visitor/tourist and legally buy a US bike and then cross borders with it? My first leg of this trip will likely be down the America's to Argentina.

Do I need to have a US street address for this and how does it work with ownership papers and registration or road tax?

I appreciate that I don't need a carnet for the America's but if I want to continue and head to central Europe or Asia, can I get a carnet in US for my US bought bike if I am a foreigner?

On the other hand, I see a lot of people sell their US registered bikes in South America instead of shipping them back to the US, could I buy one of these in South America and drive it back to the US, get a carnet for it and then continue towards Alaska and cross over to Russia etc?

If anyone could help me out with this or point me in the right direction to get this info, it would be much appreciated.

Cheers
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Old 08-23-2013, 07:38 AM   #2
Kawikazi
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Speaking for Virginia

You could buy a bike here in Virginia and title it with a Virginia title and register it in the Commonwealth of Virginia if you had a Virginia address and a drivers license with that address on it. Illegals come in here and get a drivers license all the time. Not saying you should enter illegally, but it seems like you have a more protected status with our current administration.

Kawikazi screwed with this post 08-23-2013 at 08:19 AM
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Old 08-23-2013, 08:18 AM   #3
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The main thing you will need is a US address for the vehicle to be registered and titled to (in most states they're different things). Once you have that address you will be able to insure the bike for US travel with an NZ license (Progressive for one will do it).

Registration is quite inexpensive by NZ standards but it can take a few weeks for the paperwork to come through from the local Department of Motor Vehicles. In many states however there is Sales Tax to pay on the purchase and you won't get rego or title without sorting that out. Most states don't have the equivalent of NZ's Warrant of Fitness so that's one less bit of paperwork to have to worry about.

You should be fine crossing into Canada or Mexico, and even as far south as Panama, but I don't know how you would fare in South America. There's bound to be someone here who can tell you though.

Key thing is to get as good insurance cover as you can afford- both for the bike and for medical. It can get lifetime-ruining expensive if things go wrong.
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Old 08-23-2013, 06:03 PM   #4
Normlas OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vfxdog View Post
The main thing you will need is a US address for the vehicle to be registered and titled to (in most states they're different things). Once you have that address you will be able to insure the bike for US travel with an NZ license (Progressive for one will do it).

Registration is quite inexpensive by NZ standards but it can take a few weeks for the paperwork to come through from the local Department of Motor Vehicles. In many states however there is Sales Tax to pay on the purchase and you won't get rego or title without sorting that out. Most states don't have the equivalent of NZ's Warrant of Fitness so that's one less bit of paperwork to have to worry about.

You should be fine crossing into Canada or Mexico, and even as far south as Panama, but I don't know how you would fare in South America. There's bound to be someone here who can tell you though.

Key thing is to get as good insurance cover as you can afford- both for the bike and for medical. It can get lifetime-ruining expensive if things go wrong.

Thanks for that advice guys, its a good start, hopefully someone else can inform me about the carnet stuff, from what I read borders are a pain in the arse anyway, and this could just make them harder and more expensive....

Sounds you've like been to our fair shores VFXDog ! Nice to hear you don't have WOF's there - they've just changed the law here and made them yearly instead of every 6 months.

Do they charge sales tax on second hand vehicles bought in the US as well? Or only new ones. I was aiming to buy a reasonably well farkled machine second hand with not too many miles on her (KLR probably, have had a couple here).
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Old 08-24-2013, 12:24 AM   #5
Pecha72
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Carnet: what's your route?? You do not need it for
- Americas
- Europe
- Europe to Russian Far East, including all the 'Stans' north side of Afghanistan (but visas are a different matter altogether!)

You will need carnet for Japan, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Australia. Most likely Iran as well. Africa is more debatable, general consensus seems to be, that most people will get one for Africa, especially going via Egypt, but there are a few, who have done large parts of Africa without it.

Getting the carnet is not really a showstopper either. Something you typically arrange well before setting off.
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Old 08-24-2013, 02:23 AM   #6
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No carnet needed from the top of Alaska to the bottom of Argentina! I think that road is over 30,000 miles.

I buy bikes for overseas travelers and register them in their name. No US license needed, but you should get insurance, I can arrange that too. (for the USA).

Personally I would ride then sell on the America's continent and then buy again on any other continent. As you say shipping is costly.
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Old 08-24-2013, 10:12 AM   #7
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I would do my RTW-tour on one bike. Even if shipping it is a pain, but buying/selling several times is not easy either, and as a bonus, sometimes you might get a turd, when you buy. Bikes usually need a few add-ons for this kind of trips as well.

But both options are definitely possible, you'll just need to weigh the pros/cons of each one.
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Old 08-24-2013, 06:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pecha72 View Post
I

But both options are definitely possible, you'll just need to weigh the pros/cons of each one.
Yep - that's what I'm doing here

Thanks for the advice all, I am tossing up between two main routes;

Route 1 - Ship to Australia (or buy there) - Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand-Laos Cambodia - Thailand - ship to India or Nepal-Pakistan- Iran-Turkey-central Europe- Russia (+stans) - Ship to Alaska or Canada- America's North to South -ship home

Route 2 - the reverse of Route 1 starting by shipping to South America or buying there (but checking out if buying in the US is not an easier way to go), I've heard that if you buy a Argentinian registered bike in Argentina as a foreigner you cannot leave the country with it.


Pretty much Africa's the only continent I am not too interested in...
Will be keen to throw the TAT in there too if I have the time and money. Aiming to be one year on the road at this stage, but could be longer if the money holds out.

Cheers
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Old 08-27-2013, 07:30 AM   #9
markbvt
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For what it's worth -- Vermont does not require you to be a resident to register your bike here. So you might want to look into purchasing a bike here, or nearby.

--mark
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Old 08-27-2013, 07:44 AM   #10
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Only one that sells Carnet in NA in Can. Auto Assoc. & it's based on the value of the vehicle.
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Old 08-28-2013, 01:40 AM   #11
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I am not sure about all states, but at least 10 of the states I'm familiar with charge sales tax on used as well as new vehicle sales.

From what Tuckers writes, you won't need a carnet for the Americas, assuming you buy wheels in the US. In fact maybe Tuckers could be the solution to a lot of potential difficulties as it sounds like he/they have an in to the Department of Motor Vehicles- could be just the folk to source your KLR. Plus they are Brits so won't have as much trouble translating your accent.

And yes, very familiar with your shores- I grew up there and still have some bikes squirreled away in the Coromandel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Normlas View Post
Thanks for that advice guys, its a good start, hopefully someone else can inform me about the carnet stuff, from what I read borders are a pain in the arse anyway, and this could just make them harder and more expensive....

Sounds you've like been to our fair shores VFXDog ! Nice to hear you don't have WOF's there - they've just changed the law here and made them yearly instead of every 6 months.

Do they charge sales tax on second hand vehicles bought in the US as well? Or only new ones. I was aiming to buy a reasonably well farkled machine second hand with not too many miles on her (KLR probably, have had a couple here).
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Old 10-14-2013, 11:15 PM   #12
TUCKERS
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You'll pay approx. 10% for sales tax on the 'stated price' here in California.

That $5700 10 year old BMW can have a price of $570.00 if a traveler from another country has to write it down.

I can get travelers a bike, insurance and clear title. Don't need California License and can use my address.

We also rent rooms on availability to travelers.

This year I have helped four so far, last year three.

I have bought bikes and prepared them and the traveler just picks it up, or they come and I help them buy.

I have a fee structure that is very reasonable I am told. It's more of a paying pass time than a business.

it's too easy to say NO......we find a way to say YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS
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Old 10-31-2013, 11:25 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TUCKERS View Post
You'll pay approx. 10% for sales tax on the 'stated price' here in California.

That $5700 10 year old BMW can have a price of $570.00 if a traveler from another country has to write it down.

I can get travelers a bike, insurance and clear title. Don't need California License and can use my address.

We also rent rooms on availability to travelers.

This year I have helped four so far, last year three.

I have bought bikes and prepared them and the traveler just picks it up, or they come and I help them buy.

I have a fee structure that is very reasonable I am told. It's more of a paying pass time than a business.

it's too easy to say NO......we find a way to say YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS
That sounds like a good deal/arrangement. Are you guys involved in this travel industry with others in other countries? If there is a network of like minded business you guys could cross reference each other.

I think one of the main benefits of buying a bike for a specific leg of a trip is to have the right tool for the job.

I know I would not want the same big bike as I have in the US if I were planning to head to smaller/tighter roads in another country.
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Old 10-31-2013, 05:54 PM   #14
wheatwhacker
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Originally Posted by SilkMoneyLove View Post
That sounds like a good deal/arrangement. Are you guys involved in this travel industry with others in other countries? If there is a network of like minded business you guys could cross reference each other.

I think one of the main benefits of buying a bike for a specific leg of a trip is to have the right tool for the job.

I know I would not want the same big bike as I have in the US if I were planning to head to smaller/tighter roads in another country.
Check out my facebook page if your interested in Europe
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Old 10-31-2013, 06:45 PM   #15
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Check out my facebook page if your interested in Europe
Thanks. Just liked the page. Once I get a chance to check it out this might shape some future trips.
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