Can a foreigner buy a bike in the UK??

Discussion in 'Europe' started by maat1976, Jul 19, 2009.

  1. maat1976

    maat1976 I heart riding

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    Hi all.

    I am moving to the UK in about a month. I'm selling my bike over here in the US and looking to pick up something when I get over there, if possible. Can I buy a bike and register it in the UK? I am legally working on a Tier 1 work visa which is good for 3 years. I know I can only ride on my US license for a yr and then I will have to take the UK practical exam.

    Also, any opinions on a good commuter bike - I'm vertically challenged....

    Thanks.
    #1
  2. Montford

    Montford Been here awhile

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    Hi Maat
    As far as I know you should have no problems buying and registering a bike in the UK if you have a UK postal address.

    I don't think there are any restrictions for foreign visitors and plenty of US citizens come over every year buy bikes and tour around selling them when they are finished.

    Have a look at http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/index.htm for more information.

    Good commuter bike how about a Honda CB500 twin plenty about, cheapish and reliable,ebay uk or autotrader.co.uk for an idea of prices.
    Regards
    Ian
    #2
  3. Wildman

    Wildman Long timer

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    Yup. I think you just need money and an address. What part of the UK?
    #3
  4. maat1976

    maat1976 I heart riding

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    Probably London, so I'll need something I can expect to get beat up pretty badly and not get upset about it.

    Claudia
    #4
  5. dancingweasel

    dancingweasel Virtual Tourist

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    not all parts of London are bad y'know !
    #5
  6. malteser

    malteser Tuareg Rallye 2013

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    When I moved over from Oz I found it difficult to get insurance without a UK drivers license, I converted my Oz license over to a uk one fairly easily at the DVLA. Once I got the Uk license insurance wasn't any issue. If you have any no claims bonuses in the US bring evidence with you as some UK insurance companies will accept them and thus reduce your premium.
    #6
  7. maat1976

    maat1976 I heart riding

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    not all parts of London are bad y'know !

    Don't I know it!!!!!

    I live in Manhattan now in a great area and people still knock your bike over, hit it, smash it, etc.

    C
    #7
  8. maat1976

    maat1976 I heart riding

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    What are claims bonuses? Would a letter from my insurance here showing I've never made a claim or had any tickets help?

    C
    #8
  9. Threewheelbonnie

    Threewheelbonnie Long timer

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    Just buy the bike, get the V5 (registration paper) section from the previous owner, fill in your details on the section that needs posting, send it to Swansea and two weeks later you'll have the new V5 with your details on. If you've got insurance you can ride the bike home with just the tear off bit, it's all set out on the docs. No V5 or a V5 with the wrong details, go buy a different bike.

    If you are going to have to do the bike test in the end anyway, I'd start calling insurance companies and asking if your US license makes any difference. If you have a UK address and UK license you can deal with the call centre type places (Carole Nash, Bennetts, Hastings Direct, they are all as useless, but cheap) rather than having to go via specialist brokers.

    Bike wise, take your pick. CB500, ER-5 or 6, Bonnevilles, Deauvilles, they'll all do your commute and get out of town without worrying too much about the speed the motorways run at. I wouldn't rush to pick a bike, get Autotrader, MCN and take a look on E-bay when you get here, you'll have plenty of choice.

    I assume you've been to London and seen our dispatch riders? They come as a shock to some people and you really don't want to pay weekend bike prices for something that's done 50,000 miles in the last year and had it's first oil change yesterday, so best to ask if it's been dispatched if high milage and has battle scars.

    Do you know about the MOT? It's the annual inspection for bikes over 3 years old. A bike with 10-months MOT is worth a few quid more that one that's due next week. Getting an MOT is easy and only £30-odd, but if your one week old purchase fails you are off the road until you get the work done (you can ride it to or from the test station if you've got an appointment). Any decent seller will MOT a bike for you if it's only got a month or three to run.

    If you get up into Yorkshire, say hello and if you find yourself outside the National Gallery, don't go between the busses. Two Routemasters vs. an MZ has an obvious winner and I've a scar to prove it :shog

    Andy
    #9
  10. Threewheelbonnie

    Threewheelbonnie Long timer

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    No Claims Bonus, NCB, it's a percentage discount transferable between insurers that you build up each year you don't claim. On 500-800cc bikes you should be able to get insurance with zero NCB, but anything you can get from your current insurer will help. With zero NCB and a new license you will get insane quotes from the specialist insurers and a refusal to quote from the mainline people on sportsbikes, expensive tourers etc.

    Andy
    #10
  11. Muggins

    Muggins Been here awhile

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    Hey Maat,

    I was in the same boat last November. You'll be fine on your US liscense for 12 months - so yes you can buy any bike you like. As said earlier, check MCN, eBay but also some other forums like UKgser, TheRevCounter.....and....... Gumtree.com - UK's answer to Craigslist.

    On the insurance side - I had a relatively clean record back in the states with no tickets or accidents over the last 5-6 years. I wasn't able to get NCB on a foreign liscense , so my insurance was filthy expensive - like 4-500 quid for 12 months of just BASIC coverage on my 950adv. Such is life.

    Safe travels, and drop a line to the ADV UK crew when you land,
    Mugz
    :freaky
    #11
  12. maat1976

    maat1976 I heart riding

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    As it turns out, I might wind up shipping my bike instead... who knows. Might just be easier to keep the bike I have now and shipping in spring or whenever the air freight companies are really hard up...

    C
    #12
  13. Mav

    Mav Something witty...

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    Shipping by sea is pretty accessible, especially considering you're on the East coast. It takes a couple weeks but can be about half the price.

    I spend about half my time in NYC so I've been looking in to shipping one of my bikes there for when I've there.
    #13
  14. maat1976

    maat1976 I heart riding

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    Any thoughts on a company to use for sea freight? I can only seem to get a quote from air freight people.

    C
    #14
  15. AberdeenAngus

    AberdeenAngus n00b

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    If you're planning on importing the bike for longer than 6 mnths then you will need to get it registered in the UK, and go through the Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval Scheme.
    Check this site out for more info...
    http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/BuyingAndSellingAVehicle/ImportingAndExportingAVehicle/DG_071781

    It basically involves making sure that all the component parts covered by EU regulations are up to spec.
    This includes markings so, for example, if your indicators are not marked 'CE' then you will have to change them. I know one orange flashy thing is the same as the next, but thems the rules and if there is one thing you will learn is that when it comes to officialdom in the UK, EVERY little rule is stuck to as if it were life & death.

    If you do intend bringing the bike in for longer than 6 months, you might want to get it checked out first.
    Don't believe the shipping agent - he will take your money. And then take it again when you have to ship it back again.

    Also, if you intend to bring the bike here and then sell it in the future, you will get less than you expect.
    Even if its the exact same bike as we have here - it is classed as an import and it makes folk suspicious.
    Expect to get up to a third less when you sell.
    Some insurance companies will also load your premiums if its imported (and they do ask).

    One last thing, when getting insurance in the UK be absolutely honest. No porkies - ever.
    Couple of reasons;
    Insurance companies only check you have been telling the truth when you make a claim (e,g, saying you keep your bike in a locked garage - when its actually on the street). If they have an excuse to wriggle out of paying (or even just delay it for a couple of years) they will.
    Also, all insurance companies now have access to each others records to check for fradulant claims.
    If your name gets labelled as having told porkies then you will have a battle getting cheap insurance in the future.
    #15
  16. stephen.stallebrass

    stephen.stallebrass Been here awhile

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    Hi all:

    I somehow came across this thread while planning for my own USA trip next summer. I live in Peterborough, which is in the county of Cambridgeshire in East Anglia. It is about 40 minutes from Cambridge and about 90 minutes from London.

    If I can offer you any help, in any way just let me know. I can put you up while you get ya stuff sorted, you can use my address for docs or whatever. I know how valuable it is having a point of contact from my own planning experience.

    Good luck and don't forget Europe is a stones throw away too.

    Steve
    xXx
    #16
  17. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer Supporter

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    I'm going back a few decades here, but when I was stationed in Germany, a letter from the US insurer stating that there were no claims for a period of X years would get you lower premiums.

    The kicker was that the letter had to be from the main office, not your local agent.

    This may have changed, but it certainly can't hurt to have one.
    #17
  18. flying_hun

    flying_hun Moral Hazard

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    Hi all,

    I'm glad to have found this thread. I'm looking at keeping a bike in the UK at my in-laws in Yorkshire. Looking at the current exchange rate ($1.60:1 Pound), and used bike prices in the Bay Area compared to those I see on MCN, and factoring in shipping, it appears to me that it's easier just to by a bike in the UK rather than ship one from here.

    Other than insurance, and needing an address (my in-laws), are there any other considerations to buying and registering a bike this way that I need to consider (in addition to the usual used vehicle caveats)?

    The bike will be used annually for trips in the UK and the continent. Yes, I've rented there before. I see some benefit in having my own bike which is sorted for me on standby there. The payback period is not that long compared to renting.

    Any recommendations on insurers for a bike that mostly sits idle, but goes to the continent and/or the IOM or Ireland once or twice per year?
    #18
  19. Chillywaa

    Chillywaa Adventurer

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    has anything changed since this thread was last updated in 2010?

    I am moving to the UK in the fall of 2019 for grad school. I am a US citizen with a motorcycle license. I need to ride. Can someone lay out the except steps? Is this correct?

    1. Get UK address
    2. Buy bike with correct paperwork (registration, decent MOT)
    3. Buy expensive UK-based insurance for non residents (try to demonstrate that you have a clean record)
    4. Go to UK DMV and register bike
    5. Ride the (rest of the) world

    Any tips? Thanks
    #19
  20. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    You don't need to go to the DVLA, in fact this is frowned on and will get you in trouble. You can do all registration over the internet - register/tax yourvehicle.gov.uk or somesuch. The vehicle***gov.uk site will correct all my errors and mistakes.
    You can also tax your vehicle at some post offices, if you can find one. I don't think you can do that if there is a change of ownership.
    This is all starting to sound more complicated than it is in reality. If you by from a shop/dealer, you get legal protection (to a point). They must sell a vehicle of servicable quality and fit for purpose. From a classified, nothing.
    I live out in the boonies. Our two nearest shops have all sorts of bikes, mostly lowish miles, mostly good condition, mostly low money. They will do all the registration stuff for you while you wait. Even arrange tax if you have insurance.

    Getting insurance is a pain for everyone. Can you get your licence converted into a UK one? I am doubtful, but worth asking.
    Perhaps taking a UK test is cost effective? Takes time and the obviou$, but may pay off if you are here long enough - and they last until you are 70. It will have the advantage of explaining the rules of the road as they apply here. Lots of differences compared to the various parts of the US other than the obvious.
    As a minimum, have a read of the Highway Code, which is the laws and best custom and practice - which any court will use as a guide to apportioning blame. I would go further, and mug up on "Roadcraft", which is the police pursuit drivers/riders hand book. All about defensive driving. A way of looking at your surroundings and identifying hazzards, optimising your road position so you can better "make progress". There are schemes, often staffed by off duty police Class1 drivers/riders that will help train you to become a better, safer rider.
    If a Uk test is not on, then you can take one of the other separate advanced riders test like the above. Not "official" as in recognized by gubmint, but most insurance co's will give a discount on the basis that you are maybe not a complete dork.

    Another big influence on your insurance cost is your address/post code. Big cities are expensive. My village of Boonieville is cheap. Like several £100's cheaper. But I have max no claims too.
    Certain bike locks have more cachet with insurance companies than others, find out first, before you buy. If you are able to garage your bike then do so, and they will ask if it is and will be. Always be truthful. Not only will your insurance be null and void, it will always have been null and void, which means you could be prosecuted under the no insurance thing, as well as attempted insurance fraud.

    In UK, using a vehicle without insurance is a massive no-no. Even borrowing or lending a bike from/to someone will get you in trouble (big trouble) without the proper insurance and licence.

    All road tax, insurance and MOT data is kept on computer, accessible by any police officer at any time. So they know if you are legal and who you should be all the time.
    There are also more traffic cameras than anywhere else. They can check vehicle movements, and owners/registered keepers of untaxed, uninsured vehicles with expired MOT will receive a begging letter.

    If you are not staying in London, mostly the UK is quite nice. Lots of available nice roads. And despite the population density, lots of reasonably empty parts accessible without too long a schlep. And lots of things that tourists/visitors feel is essential to go visit.

    Enjoy, have fun, stay safe.
    #20
    Chillywaa and Mark Manley like this.