Buy and license a bike in the US as a foreign national: 2013

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Gavagai, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. Gavagai

    Gavagai n00b

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    Hi,

    This Summer I plan a 2-months trip around US.
    please help me out to verify if my plan is sound and reasonable.

    I need to decide about my city of entry until Thursday night (Feb 21st) - this is my deadline to buy tickets.



    I will try to follow advice from this thread http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=606513 I plan this:
    1. get into US in any major city, San Francisco would suit me best.
    2. Purchase a second-hand motorbike
    (the above two points can be reversed if seller can be trusted)
    3. ride to New Hampshire to register and get metal plates.
    4. Ride into Canada for one week, and then roam around as long as I could.
    5. Sell the bike in a western coast city (SF or LA) and get my "big boat home" from there (back to Taiwan).
    Which city of these 2 are better to quick sale of an used motorbike? I assume it is LA.

    My questions:
    1. My budget for bike is c. $2500. With this money involved is it reasonable to avoid paying sales tax and registering bike in a sales tax free state, like New Hampshire?

    2. Would that be possible to enter Canada on paper plates? Remember I am a foreign national. This makes things more complicated.

    3. As far as I understand, whichever state I purchase the bike, I will get temporary paper plates which are valid for 2 months.

    4. Can I sell the bike to a new owner (most likely in California), while I still only have the temporary 2-months registration?
    My guess is that I'd have to register in the new owner's state and pay the sales tax. Please confirm.

    5. In other words: maybe there is no need to register and get the metal plates in my case. My trip will surely fit within 2 months. If I can enter Canada and sell bike with paper plates, why trouble with registration at all?

    6. I have international driver license for motorbikes, issued in Poland, valid in US too.
    I know that in New Your City they DMV might make trouble, and in Chicago they are friendly for foreigners purchasing vehicles.
    Any hints as of which states I should avoid, and which are foreigner-friendly?

    7. Insurance.
    Same problem as the above - in which states the insurance fees are reasonable? My friend warned me that fees might vary much.
    Anyway, what kind of insurance I need: for my 2-months trip, with a side-trip to Canada?
    Which insurance companies charge a reasonable amount, which try to rip off clients like me?

    7a. Assuming my motorbike will be 250cc only, what amount I would have to pay?
    In Australia there I had no such problem, as the insurance from the previous owner covered the time I was riding my bike.
    As far as I know, in US I need to purchase a new insurance - the amount to pay depends on type of driver license? In all states?

    7b. Can I buy motorbike in one state (say Texas), but insure it in New Hampshire or just any other state?


    Thank you for help,

    Peter
    #1
  2. DSM8

    DSM8 Where fun goes to die....

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    In California if a bike is registered out of state it requires two things to be sold in state.

    7500 miles on the odometer AND the EPA sticker saying it is CA Emissions compliant.

    That is the killer right there so if you buy a bike outside of CA it can be very hard to sell and register in CA depending on where you are etc.

    Just my .02
    #2
  3. Gavagai

    Gavagai n00b

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    Noted.

    Thank you.
    #3
  4. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad n00balicious

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    But if the bike is bought in California when he arrives, it will be California compliant.

    No matter where you try to register the bike you will need a local address. In California when you buy a used bike, you go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) with the title document (aka: "Pink Slip") that has been signed by the seller releasing the ownership to you. You pay your fees (registration, license, and sales tax) and you get a registration receipt. You keep the metal plate the bike had on it. The title in your name is then mailed to the local address after about 3 weeks. You will have a harder time selling a bike with no title. I think you will have a hard time registering a bike with an out of state signed Pink Slip while trying to transfer title. It will totally depend on the attitude of the local DMV.

    Insurance companies tend to charge you based on the address on the registration.

    You really going to ride a little biddy 250 from California to New Hampshire??? wow that will be an adventure
    #4
  5. babarnette

    babarnette Been here awhile

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    Have you considered just leasing a bike? Might be a better route.
    #5
  6. Canuman

    Canuman Crusty & Unobliging

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    To note: New Hampshire does not have a retail sales tax, but they DO quite happily collect registration fees both at the state and town level on bikes.

    New Hampshire DOES NOT require that a motorcycle be insured. If you are going to Canada, however, you may need proof of insurance.
    #6
  7. LetItRoll

    LetItRoll ForwardAholic

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    California's neighbor (Oregon) has no sales tax, if you buy the bike from a dealer they will do all the paperwork for you. You may even be able to find one that will hold, or have the paperwork sent to them if you are going to sell it back to them in the end. Might cost you a little more but would be alot simpler dealing with one party for both the buy and sell then multiple in that short of time. Also the advantage of a dealer doing the paperwork for you is big, and you could start looking at dealers inventory before getting here.
    #7
  8. Gavagai

    Gavagai n00b

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    Thank you all for your help.

    @You really going to ride a little biddy 250 from California to New Hampshire???

    ha ha! Adventure it will be!


    @Have you considered just leasing a bike?
    60 days is AT LEAST $3000. Such amount is more than a new Chinese 250cc

    @size: a 250cc mono-cylinder carriend me safely through 10 thousand miles in South America.

    @Oregon seems PERFECT!!!! My entry and Exit port is fixed: San Francisco.

    @insurance
    I still want an insurance. Therefore this question is still up.


    New Issue: I plan to buy sth. like this. It's just within my budget. http://www.scooterdepot.us/mc-lf250b.html

    If you know any good (helpful and reliable) sellers in CA or Oregon, please give me a tip.
    I will be selling this bike after c. 10 000 miles - anyone interested, please let me know. It might be any state, even far from my exit port - I will just fight for higher price ha ha!
    #8
  9. livingoriginally

    livingoriginally n00b

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    Hello everyone,

    I am an Aussie looking to do something similar an have a couple of questions:

    - would Californian second hand dealerships be likely to do "all the paperwork" and "have the paperwork sent to them", similar to the way it suggested in Oregon, above?
    - would the Californian DMV be likely to accept the name of a hostel on the "pink slip"?

    Thanks in advance.
    #9
  10. ontic

    ontic

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    rather than just subscribe to this thread, I thought I'd post.
    It is very early days for our planning so I haven't done much research yet.
    Probably next year some time my partner and I are looking at doing a similar thing- we'll be flying into and out of LA. Riding for about a month or two first trip and maybe try to keep/store the bikes somewhere for a second trip soon after. Not sure where to ride yet but that might depend on the season we arrive and how much time we are there for. West to east coast and back, seeing the sights and trying to stay off the main roads... plenty of national parks and camping, maybe down into Mexico for a bit... don't know yet.
    I have been wondering about buying our bikes in California or trying for somewhere less stringent- also have considered just finding whatever two adventure ready bikes we can, wherever they are, and once we are in L.A. jumping a bus or domestic flight to the bikes location and starting the ride from there... if it is hard to sell a non CA bike in CA then that would be a discincentive and would lean me to buying CA bikes to make the eventual selling of it easier.

    anyway, like I said, early days for our plans but I'll be reading this and other threads to help figure things out.

    P.S. I've got a pilot in the family so can fly to L.A. (and only L.A. within the USA) very very cheaply, which is what is prompting the trip before the airline changes the rules again or the pilot family member retires:D
    #10
  11. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    Lots in there... CA is a doable place to buy in that there are FAR!!! more people & MC's to buy but as you seem to know not always the easiest place to buy/register from whet I see on the web. If cross USA flt is cheap then buy elsewhere? BUS! I know about riding the bus. It is cheap & horrible. It is also slooooooow-unless an express bus between two cities that are reasonably close such as maybe LA,CA & SF,CA. In the NE USA the bus is practical to get out/in from NYC too. Trains are as pricey as a flt so not used much here other than subways in cities & again in the NE to get in/out of the city.
    Some dealers will facilitate paperwork some not so much. Many like to charge for not much & called dealer fees or title fees. Knowing full well that you can read & write it's easily done yourself! Timing is a concern & lots of threads here that discuss all that "stuff". I'd buy from a private seller if possible & look toward something reasonably priced like a pre 2012 Wee Strom Suzuki. They are very common(ADV,Ebay ,Craigslist & Cycletrader and will serve your purpose? Have you a "friend" to facilitate here? Been done before-have a straw buyer to help. The DMV varies in every state & they have websites and phones.
    #11
  12. Blind Warrior

    Blind Warrior Lost in the Ozone

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    The disadvantage of buying in California is the sales tax. However, the advantages may make paying the sales tax worth while. The market place for motorcycles in California area is huge, so getting a good price is easier. It is easy to change the title of a California registered motorcycle; all that is needed is a California address to which the title can be mailed. And, as far as I know, California registered motorcycles can be sold in any other state.

    Simple steps to buy in California:

    1. Locate the bike. Where I live, that would mean searching Craigslist for LA, Inland Empire, Orange County and San Diego.
    2. Purchase the bike and have the seller sign the title (AKA pink slip).
    3. Find someone who will let you use their address for receipt of the title.
    4. Go to a DMV office and have the title switched to your name.
    5. In about 3 weeks receive the title in the mail.

    Insurance is easy to acquire, since US insurance companies will write policies to foreign driver's license holders.

    Note that if buying a BMW motorcycle it does not matter which state the bike is registered in since all BMW bikes are 50 state legal.

    Also see this:
    http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/brochures/fast_facts/ffvr32.htm

    And here is the form that you fill out at the DMV office:
    http://apps.dmv.ca.gov/forms/reg/reg343.pdf
    #12
  13. Blind Warrior

    Blind Warrior Lost in the Ozone

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    BTW, there is an inmate here called TUCKERS who provides services to people wanting to do motorcycle trips in the USA. He will inspect a motorcycle, purchase on your behalf, register it in your name, and have it ready when you arrive. I do not have any experience using his services, but if I were in your shoes I would consider using him.
    #13
  14. N-m

    N-m Captain 2 Sexy

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    Yes, it's an old thread.

    What happened? What did you figure out? What did you decide?

    How did you title, register and insure a bike in the U.S.?
    #14
  15. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    he didn't use me!.....BUT...I'm on my 4th bike for International visitors this year already....I can take care of your needs. I solve problems, jump through hoops that are on fire and deliver the goods.
    #15
  16. Keeegs

    Keeegs Adventurer

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    Hi

    I am looking at doing a trip again. Last year I was in the states working at a summer camp in New York so I had the long term address and all that stuff. This year I am looking at flying into LA, to have the bike waiting for me and to head over to Sturgis.

    I am planning on getting the bike from Auction (I have somebody over there that buys from them often but only for export). I plan to export mine after about 4 weeks.

    Whats the best way to do this? I think I read somewhere about a temp registration or license?

    And who is the best insurance company for foreigners?

    Thanks, Keegan
    #16
  17. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    Your buyer ought to know the in's and out's of registration. You have to have a Dealers License to buy and one of the qualifications is knowing DMV.
    Doubt you can get a temp reg if the vehicle is for export only. What's the deal with that? If your buyer gets the title with the vehicle it's a simple process for me to register it in your name.
    #17
  18. Keeegs

    Keeegs Adventurer

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    They normally only buy bikes for export so they don't deal with that at all really. And then not for foreigners. I had a bit of trouble with points of identification last year. Got them all in the end, though this time I don't think I'll have enough.

    It won't be for export only as I will be riding around for about a month.
    #18
  19. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    What bike do you want? I JUST did three for 3 guys from New Zealand, one of the riders is still here...at my house.....

    You don't need any ID with me, I can register a bike in any name you care to choose.
    #19
  20. Keeegs

    Keeegs Adventurer

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    I am looking at getting a Harley Low Rider.

    So what do you do?
    #20