Moving me and my bike permanently to France from US

Discussion in 'EMEA' started by thetejanaabroad, May 13, 2020.

  1. thetejanaabroad

    thetejanaabroad n00b

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    Hello all,

    I found lot of forums on road trips and shipping your bike to Europe but none on my situation.

    I am moving to France indefinitely in August/September. I'm an inexperienced rider, so I wanted to buy a bike here in the US and use the next few months to practice before I head overseas. I know there are many shipping companies, but my main issue is the legalization of the bike once I'm there.

    - How long can I ride with my American license? How long can I ride with my International license? Will I need to get a French license within a certain amount of time?

    - Do I still get the Green card insurance if I'm staying there indefinitely? How will that work?

    - What other procedures do I need to follow to make sure an American bike fits all the European specs, license plate, etc.?

    (Will it just be smarter to wait until I'm over there? My main concern with that was what documents I would need to buy a bike)

    Thanks in advance!
    #1
  2. glitch_oz

    glitch_oz Long timer

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    Might be best to get official advice on that rather than relying on opinions given in internet forums.
    Easiest contact might be the official French Embassy FB group https://www.facebook.com/FranceInTheUs/
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  3. thetejanaabroad

    thetejanaabroad n00b

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    In my past experiences the embassies have been less than helpful lol. But yes thank you I didn't know there was a Facebook group! I'll try that
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  4. GvG

    GvG Been here awhile

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    You can start here: https://franceintheus.org/spip.php?article782

    And my own thoughts on the questions, so check this with the authorities:
    Usually 1 year. And if you have a drivers license issued by the state of Texas, it should be a swap for the 'B' part (i.e. cars), but for 'A' (motorcycles) it's not. Meaning you can exchange your current one with a French license to drive a car.
    To get a motorcycle license would mean you have to pass both a written and practice test and for the first 2 years are limited to an A2 license (<35kW), after which you need to take 7 hours of training to get an A license (no kW limit)
    https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/IMG/...e_valables_a_l_echange_20200331_cle89bfda.pdf
    https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F2830
    An international license is not a license, it's a translation.

    'Green card insurance' is just the mandatory motor vehicle insurance you will need to get (in France) for all your motorised vehicles.

    Your bike will have to go through an official inspection, where they check if it's legal.
    Try around a hub with a lot of international traffic. I know that in the Rotterdam area (one of the biggest ports in the world) in the Netherlands there are companies that have done this 1000s of times and know exactly what to do (for the Netherlands, not France).
    I found this, no idea how reputable it is https://www.french-property.com/guides/france/driving-in-france/vehicle-importation-registration

    Oh.....and if you've had the vehicle on your name for less than 6 months, the vehicle is not exempt from (import) duties.
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  5. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    In your situation, I would buy a beater bike to get the basics down, then sell it on before moving and get a French/EU market bike here.
    You will likely need a Certificate of Conformity, to verify that the bike means CE standards rather than DOT. Here in UK, for example, you should have an MPH speedo - a KPH only one will not pass an MOT.
    As GvG mentioned, there is a likelyhood of importing a bike, but if you do, then find you are spending extra to make it compliant, maybe not so cost effective. And should you decide to return to the US, a French market bike may be easier to sell on (rather than pay for shipping).
    My French friends sometimes bemoan the fact that many modifications/alterations from standard parts are no longer allowed.

    You will likely find European riding practice different. Certainly there are lots more laws to comply with. The French have a range of regulations about conspicuity - having reflective flashes on helmet, jacket and gloves.
    The French police can have random stops with no reason given. Usually just a check on paperwork - but lots of people get caught DUI because they are still showing high blood alcohol the morning after. The alcohol limits are very low btw.
    Sass is pretty likely to get you a hard time - French police are not always known for their tolerance of back chat. Having said that, I have never ever had anything other than politeness and courtesy, even smiles. Even when I have a technical infraction - no lights, forgotten documents etc.

    At least basic insurance is compulsory through out the EU. Any policy issued within the EU will come with a Green Card, no need for extra. Basic insurance only covers the damage you or your vehicle may cause to other people or property. If you want more coverage it can cost.
    When I moved to Germany, I could not get anything more than basic insurance for a couple of years - but that was a long time ago.

    There are lots of Auto Ecole (driving school) all around in France. I don't know if it is compulsory to use professionals to learn, but it can be cheaper, as mostly you can use their bikes to practice and take your test. This could save you having to buy multiple bikes. As Gvg said, you are HP category limited for a while.
    This in itself, may make importing and using a Harley difficult.

    One of the nice things about being a biker in France, is that you are not seen as a weirdo. Bars and restaurants and hotels will be welcoming, many other road users will move over to let you pass. It is part of what makes riding in France so enjoyable. That and the countryside, the roads, the Alps and other assorted hillies and twisties. Not to mention the food and wine.
    By European standards, it isn't very densely populated, so always easy to find the road less travelled.


    The UK gov has a website dedicated to traffic, vehicles and all the regulations that befuddle their use by us. Maybe the French gov has one too.
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  6. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer Supporter

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    What Nick said.

    If you plan on establishing residence in the EU, you're far, far better off not bringing a bike from the US, unless it's some sort of rare exotic. It's just not worth the bureaucratic (not to mention monetary) hassles that you'll encounter.

    If you're going to be there in a "tourist" status, that's another thing - but it doesn't sound that way.

    IMHO, YMMV, and all the rest.
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  7. Johann

    Johann Commuterus Tankslapperus

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    Agree with the above, wait until you get to France and buy a bike there, will be a lot less expense and hassle all round.

    One thing definitely worth investigating before you move that could make your life easier is the rules about swapping a US licence with a French licence. It might be easier and cheaper to pass your bike test in the US then transfer that to a French licence once you move. I don´t know if that is an option, there may be something in the smallprint about you needing to have held a licence for x amount of time before you can transfer but would be worth looking in to.

    As already mentioned if you have to get the licence in France be aware that most of Europe has moved to stepped licencing now which means you might be limited to an A2 licence (47.5hp) for two years before being allowed to ride unlimited class (A) bikes.

    https://eudoxie.shop/en/le-permis-moto-comment-ca-se-passe/
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  8. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    Something I had in mind, but forgot to mention, the several forms of police in France can issue fines payable on the spot. That means you pay now. As in Right Now. And for really heinous crimes, like speeding, your vehicle can be crushed.
    Apparently they now have card machines for your contribution, which is more "convenient" than being escorted to an atm, or in even older times, waiting for the banks to open (most banks have long lunchtime closing, open late and close early).
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  9. Johann

    Johann Commuterus Tankslapperus

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    Again as already mentioned above, France and the US have a reciprocal agreement for licence exchanges which varies by state. Unfortunately the info I can find shows that only applies to B licence holders (ie: cars) for residents of Texas. I don´t know why motorcycles are not included, you would have to investigate at your end. There are quite a few states where motorcycles are specifically included.

    https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/IMG/...e_valables_a_l_echange_20200331_cle89bfda.pdf
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  10. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer Supporter

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  11. marta5

    marta5 n00b

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    Amazing trip absolutely. ¿Can you share any pictures about your trip? Thx
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  12. thetejanaabroad

    thetejanaabroad n00b

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    Thanks for this! When I was living in Spain I wasn't able to exchange my US driver's license for a Spanish one and I needed an international license (along with my US one) to drive in Spain after 6 months. I had just assumed France would be the same. I keep finding information on importing cars or mopeds, but struggling to find specifications on motorcycles.

    The new driving class will be a pain in the ass for sure but then, so is all other French administration. I'm also a small gal so I doubt I would even need anything bigger than an A2.

    For the importing hub... I'll be in Paris to start out with but maybe Le Havre, the main shipping port, has a lot of information I can use.


    Thanks very much for your opinion! This is very helpful.
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  13. thetejanaabroad

    thetejanaabroad n00b

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    If a bike has all the factory/standard parts with nothing being added on, would it likely be compliant to all the specifications? Maybe I can contact the different official dealerships of the French side.

    I've thought of getting a beater bike for a few months then attempting to trade it in. I just worry about buying a bike in France/EU because 1, having to wait lol and 2, the different regulations. I'm sure that France is different than Spain but I still worry I would need to have all of my legal documentation in order, which takes months.

    The reflective has to be on all of the protective gear or just some of it? I've heard I need to keep a reflective vest with me at all times.

    Very excited about all the riding France has to offer. It seems that the EU is more motorcycle friendly in general, simply because there are so many more riders and cars know to watch out for you. One particular trip I want to do is the national park in South of France (near Marseille and Aix-en-Provence).
    #13
  14. thetejanaabroad

    thetejanaabroad n00b

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    Man, I have the Class C and M. Maybe I'll move to Oklahoma for a few months so I can get my license transferred :lol3
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  15. thetejanaabroad

    thetejanaabroad n00b

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    Que guay Marta! Yo vivi en Valencia durante 7 meses. Me encantó y la echo de menos.

    Si compro una moto, claro que compartiré muchas fotos :raabia
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  16. thetejanaabroad

    thetejanaabroad n00b

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    Sounds like the French police! Definitely got a lot to learn and experience
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  17. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    If the bike is box stock and you can get a Certificate of Conformity from your dealer, then maybe. Could depend on who does the actual looking. Just like in the US most parts are stamped DOT, in the EU they are stamped CE or similar. The wrong examiner could interpret that as non compliant. And some parts could be different, like the headlamp pattern.
    Add in shipping - possibly both ways - could be $1500 each way, and figure if you have to take a French motorcycle test, you would not be able to ride it for two years anyway if it is over the homologated 47hp limit.
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  18. GvG

    GvG Been here awhile

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    'With all the factory parts/standard parts' is meaningless. All the parts that require it must have an 'E' stamp on it in the EU, showing they've been through the homologation process and conform to EU law. Which parts those are? I know headlights, taillights, blinkers and exhausts have them, but probably a lot more that I do not know. Some of these have both a 'DOT' and an 'E' stamp on my bike, but not all of them. And you'll probably need a speedo that shows km/h.
    And you need the proper paperwork. (Have you checked what you need and if you have it/can get it for your bike).

    I have no idea how hard or easy this is, probably bike dependent. And I'd beware of models that were never even on sale in the EU.
    There's a reason relocation services exist, navigating a foreign country's red tape is hard even when you're fluent in the language.

    And at least helmets require reflective stickers (https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000000187900&categorieLien=id). When I bought my Shark helmet (outside of France, even), they came with the helmet (Shark is a french helmet company).

    And don't forget a 'certificat qualité des air' if you want to ride in Paris https://certificat-air.gouv.fr/

    I'm saying it's just not worth the hassle, unless you have a relocation service provided for by an employer.
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  19. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer Supporter

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    There was a guy on here (ADVrider) a few years back that brought his bike over to Switzerland. IIRC, he spent many months and Francs getting it to pass Swiss inspection to be registered in Switzerland. I think that the only things that he didn't have to swap out were the tire valve caps.

    OK - maybe a slight exaggeration there.

    Buying a bike in the EU for use in the EU for any appreciable length of time is definitely the path of least resistance.
    #19