Moving R1200GS from Canada to California

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by the_limey, Jul 10, 2012.

  1. the_limey

    the_limey Adventurer

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    Has anyone had any experience registering a Canadian purchased R1200GS in California?

    I'm likely moving down there on an L1B visa for work. I spoke to the DMV in California and they said as long as there's a letter from the manufacturer stating that it meets U.S. FMVSS and U.S. Emissions requirements then I'm good to go.

    I spoke to BMW North America - they couldn't confirm specific models over the phone but they said late model years should be no problem to write the letter for.

    Anyone made the same move and had any issues?

    Thanks!
    #1
  2. LaurelPerryOnLand

    LaurelPerryOnLand Long timer

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    Why not simply leave registered in Canada?
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  3. def

    def Ginger th wonder dog

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    There have been some horror stories regarding registering non-CA purchased motorcycles in CA.

    IIRC, the CA emmissions compliance stickers are required to be in place on the vehicle before registration is granted.

    Does you bike have a CAT and charcoal canister? I believe you'll need it. CA folks will chime in with better details. I would check with AAA and possibly other local bike clubs, websites for details. Me? I wouldn't even bother to ride my motorcycle in CA much less register it there.

    Good luck.

    73
    #3
  4. the_limey

    the_limey Adventurer

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    Legally you're supposed to register in CA within 20 days of moving there (working there and leasing accommodation makes you a resident).

    Can't maintain Canadian registration without Canadian insurance. Canadian insurance won't cover long term in the US (just short vacation travel). Making a claim would likely be rejected. Therefore would need CA insurance too. Two policies = $$$

    But, better than not being able to ride at all I suppose :)
    #4
  5. the_limey

    the_limey Adventurer

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    This is required for vehicles purchased in the US (all your vehicles have a sticker). But, when bringing in from Canada you can supply in lieu of the sticker "A letter from the manufacturer stating the vehicle complies with U.S. FMVSS and U.S. Emissions requirements (usually only attainable for Canadian vehicles)."

    I double checked this with the DMV. It is still correct.

    My concern now is (given the lack of charcoal canister on the Canadian Euro spec models) will BMW NA provide that letter for a Canadian bike. My dealer says it's no problem and other clients get them, but I 'd like to hear from the 'people'!
    #5
  6. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

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  7. trc.rhubarb

    trc.rhubarb ZoomSplat!

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    That link is for CA residents buying out of state.
    Moving in with your already owned vehicle is much easier.

    Even if you can't prove compliance, Ive gotten a cert of non-compliance for a small fee in the past when i moved back into the state.

    The laws pretty much just screw current residents, not the new ones :huh
    #7
  8. the_limey

    the_limey Adventurer

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    That was my understanding. My call with the DMV was easy - they just said bring a manufacturer's letter. It's the letter that concerns me as Canada imports Euro spec GS's, not North American ones.
    #8
  9. Fuse

    Fuse Adventurer

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    Your bike does not have the charcoal canister and, as such, does not meet California's regulation.
    #9
  10. Deuce

    Deuce Crazy Canuck

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    I would sell it up here and take the money and buy a newer one for less money in California. You will also have to pay tax on the value of any vehicles you bring down. My friend is moving to San Diego and he sold all his vehicles because of this. :1drink
    #10
  11. Sailorlite

    Sailorlite Long timer Supporter

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    Have you already requested that letter? I see no harm in having it even if ultimately it's not needed. If you request it and somehow it's not really available or is insufficient, then you explore the other options mentioned above.

    I doubt that you would be required to add a charcoal canister to your fully Canadian-compliant bike to register it in Calif.
    #11
  12. Emperor Norton

    Emperor Norton Kilroy was here

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    Ah yes our (in)famous "Use Tax".:ymca
    #12
  13. the_limey

    the_limey Adventurer

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    In conclusion: BMW NA will no longer issue compliance letters for Canadian bikes (for my BMW car they will).

    So, will be selling the F650GS at a loss and buying a 1200GS in Cali.

    This will cost me more (as I have no credit in the US so need to use cash and my bank interest is higher than BMW Canada's). I'm hoping I can go to that dealer in Orange and get free vario cases. That's the deal I had in Canada which was tipping the balance.

    That and I was being offered 80% of the value of my 2010 650GS back in trade in which covered the lien and left a $1K trade in value! Won't get that in cash. Will end up owing BMW money out my pocket.

    Hopefully this thread will help out other Canadians in the future.

    And now.... time to call some BMW dealers in California!

    (Of course, now I have to figure out if I can get a bike I buy in the US back into Canada one day!)
    #13
  14. Plane Dr

    Plane Dr Long timer

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    You also need to do the Federal importation at the border into the US, then you need to go to a local customs office in the jurisdiction you will be registering it. Be very careful they will try to charge you, I think it is a 2.5% importation tax at the border. That only applies for permanent importation. A temporary (not saleable in the US) importation should not pay tax at the border.

    Depending on who you get, the paperwork could be a mess. I brought 2 bikes and a car and I'm not sure I'd do it again. It was a major PITA. I ended up with a permanent importation on all.
    #14
  15. the_limey

    the_limey Adventurer

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    Though in a postscript to my original conclusion... BMW NA said while they no longer provide compliance letters you can get one from a NHTSA certified registered importer. Spoke to one of these guys and he said he's never had a problem certifying a Canadian bike for CA (he said this is DOT compliance as Candian emissions compliance is recognized as comparable to EPA).

    Now to figure out of BMW bikes are Canadian EPA compliant - they must be? Though no more assumptions in this game. Though it sounds like the whole game is just luck - depends on who you get at the DMV
    #15
  16. t6pilot

    t6pilot Been here awhile

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    Register in a state other than California that does not require the smog stickers, then reregister in California at a later date. Much easier to do
    #16
  17. the_limey

    the_limey Adventurer

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    Sounds tricky and of dubious legality - unless I briefly rent a trailer in Nevada!

    I'm still hoping I can convince BMW to issue a letter - I have the dealer working on the corporate folk at head office.

    And, does anyone know if I'd have to spend $$$ having a whole new instrument cluster fitted to convert speedometer and odometer to mph and miles? Or will stickers on the speedometer indicating mph suffice and leave the odometer in KM.
    #17
  18. the_limey

    the_limey Adventurer

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    Oh f this. I just discovered the so called use taxin California. Because the 1200gs would only be a few months old the cost would be in the thousands! Despite paying sales tax up here in Canada on it.

    I'll just buy a Vespa on arrival. About the only affordable option at this stage!
    #18