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  #1  
Old 26 Jan 2010
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Owning a US Motorcycle as a tourist?

I am from the UK and plan on spending approx 2 months travelling the US by motorcycle.
I figured if would be more cost effective to purchase a bike (old one)
instead on renting and sell on when I leave. When speaking to a friend
earlier today he told me to check whether it would be possible, because
as far as he understood with regards to 'cars' at least - is that is not possible for a non
US resident to own a vehicle..


In real world terms where does this leave me? will I be refused insurance?
I'm assuming I need a address of residence or something, can I just not use
a hotel address or is there any simple work a rounds without border runs and
excessive hassle?

Kinda bummed by the whole thought as I was really looking forward to it
and did not even consider it being a problem.
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  #2  
Old 26 Jan 2010
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It is very possible to buy a vehicle in the US and has been discussed about a million times on this site and ADVRider, so do some searches. The main thing is you will need someone's US address for the rego and insurance docs, but each state is a bit different so look at some of the threads for more specific info.
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  #3  
Old 26 Jan 2010
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I did it and it is possible, you just need a freinds address for the change of ownership. Insurance will not be possible unless you use Progressive, the only people I found who would insure non US residents.

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  #4  
Old 26 Jan 2010
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You will need an address and a 'friend' in the USA to use their details. All vehicles in the USA are insured for the vehicle, not like over here, so if someone gives you the keys to a vehicle and says you can use it, then you're insured (might do to get it in writing though). If you intend going to Canada you will need written permission from the insurer and the 'owner' that you are permitted to drive/ride it. The only downside to all of this is that you will have to trust the person that's effectively owning and insuring your vehicle as in any loss situation the money would go to them.

Insuring your own bike to ride in the USA ie shipping it over, try Gail Goodman at Motorcycle Express, very knowledgeable, very friendly and very efficient. If you can do it you can probably pick up a solo in the US for the cost of shipping your own over. Try Honda of Crofton (they're on the web), just outside of Baltimore (good place to fly in to), very helpful.

If we can help with any other information regarding riding the USA, just ask.
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  #5  
Old 26 Jan 2010
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Thanks for the help and replies everyone. Really appreciated.


Supposing I had a friend in Boston that allowed me to use his address.
But, I bought the (used) bike in NY - how would that work out?

Would they post the plates and papers to Boston that I would have to pick
up there then travel back to NY to fix them to the bike before riding. Or do
you pick them up from somewhere? If I did have to pick them up from some
kind of bureau, would I only be able to do that in Boston since that is where the address is?

Still confused by it a little..
for instance - I'm assuming it would not be possible to ride the used bike
away from the sellers house until you have received the plates?

And lastly, Would I physically have to have access to this address to pick
up whatever is sent there? i.e if I did not pick up what documents are sent
there would I not be able to resell the bike at the end of my trip without them?

Sorry for the barrage of questions. Hope I make sense.
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  #6  
Old 26 Jan 2010
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The bike is registered and is rideable, once you take ownership you have a certain amount of time to transfer the registration, this for me in California was 28 days I think, but I did not do it for over 4 months. The bike was insured by Progressive and I am still certain they are the only US company that handles non US citizens insurance. That is not to say things have not changed over the past year since I bought the bike.


The new plates for the bike would be sent to the address you specified, same with the Title, so yes, you would need access, thats OK, you have a bike, ride over and pick them up

Cheers
TS
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  #7  
Old 27 Jan 2010
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Thanks TS, Much help.

I'm assuming I can insure the bike with the plates that are on the bike when purchased - before I re-registred in my name.

Also, since I am there for 2 months - If I forgot for some reason to
re-register, after the alotted time given by the state, could that present any problems when I resell the bike?
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  #8  
Old 27 Jan 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scrubs View Post
Also, since I am there for 2 months - If I forgot for some reason to re-register, after the alotted time given by the state, could that present any problems when I resell the bike?
why not start the registration process when you buy the bike, and then when the plates/rego/title come, your friend can just overnight them to whereever you are?

when you sell the bike i think it would be better to have the title in your name, although i guess you could sell it on the basis of the previous owner's title signed over to you.

Also, from what I understand some dealers (but not all) will do all of the paperwork for you, and if you buy the bike sight-unseen it can be all ready to go when you arrive. You could probably find someone on this site or on ADVRider to go check out the bike before you buy it if you go that route.
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  #9  
Old 27 Jan 2010
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Thanks motoreiter,


Is there a site or something where I can compare the 'grace' period offered
between different states to transfer the reg. Because if I could buy in a state
that offered a 60 (or more) day grace period I would have come and gone by then so would not have to bother with it all.
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  #10  
Old 27 Jan 2010
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each state has a seperate department of motor vehicles (DMV) or similar web site, you will have to compare. I think there is a private website (DMV.ORG) or something that summarizes each state's rules, but not sure how detailed or accurate it is.
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  #11  
Old 28 Jan 2010
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I live in New York, but have lived in a variety of states. Unfortunately, there is no single easy answer due to the fact that we have 50 states with 50 sets of rules and regulations. Some states do not allow you to get a temporary registration in order to move a vehicle out of state, but most do provide such a thing. Private sellers often do not know the applicable laws, so I would not trust them to steer you in the right direction. Larger dealers probably are more familiar with the laws and can also usually get the registration or temporary registration for you, at least in NY. One problem you may run into is that here they have really tightened up identification rules in recent years. The normal ID required is a NY State license, but without that you would definitely need a passport, your license, etc. Some states have easier regs than others. For example, I don't believe there is any required vehicle inspection in Florida, which removes one hassle. Not sure, but there is a long list of rules on the NY State Web site. What type of bike are you looking for and where? I might be able to suggest some resources to look into.
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  #12  
Old 28 Jan 2010
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I did it few months ago.

I researched the easiest state to do so. It is Florida. You´d better go Miami, buy a motorbike at the BMW Dealership. They sell used bikes and some of them are not BMWs. They will put their own address.

I bought a bike there in the morning and was riding it at evening. If you need new plates, they will sell them by Fedex wherever you are. I got mines when I was in Arizona.

They will arrange also the insurance by Progressive; they know a good broker and everything can be done by fax in few minutes. But, in Florida you can ride a bike without insurance.

Back to America


As you can see, I had no problems going into Canada and coming back to USA.
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  #13  
Old 28 Jan 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scrubs View Post
Because if I could buy in a state
that offered a 60 (or more) day grace period I would have come and gone by then so would not have to bother with it all.
Even if you "come and go" without needing a rego/permanent plate I think it would be easier to sell the bike if you have title in your name, it is registered, etc. I don't think you have to do either of these, but I would guess that a sale would be easier. Also, as pointed out I don't see what the bother is in getting a rego--in many states all you will need is a US address for them to send it to you, and whoever is at the address that you give could then send the title/rego/plates to wherever you are at the time. Could be some fees involved too, so you should check that out.
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  #14  
Old 28 Jan 2010
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Willing to trade use of bike between UK and US

I live outside of Seattle and have a garage full of BMW airheads. I'd like to trade the use of one of my bikes for one of yours. What I offer is use of my 81 R65 or 89 R100GS for touring the olympic peninsula, pacific northwest or western canada for a week then I'd like to visit UK later this year and would need to use one of your bikes. No cost for the bike, just be willing and able to "self insure" in event of your at fault crash and have proof of clean driving record. I'm looking for a mid range bike - 650 on up in UK and a place to base out of. Ping me back through a PM if you are interested. Certain restrictions, age, stability, ect apply. While in US, you'll be welcome to stay with wife and I. James
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  #15  
Old 25 Feb 2010
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adding a few more things

...a few additions that maybe are not clear:

A) the license plate on the bike belongs to the owner of the bike; it is the physical identification on the bike that ties ownership back to a real person. When you buy a used bike, you won't necessarily get a plate with the bike. An experienced seller will remove the plate when you buy the bike to protect him/her from you committing a crime on the bike and having the law enforcement community trying to track him/her down instead of you.

-to get around the 'having no license plates' problem you need to do one of two things:

1) promptly register the bike at the 'county clerk and recorder's' office in the county where you buy the bike; you'll get the new license plates on the spot. Generally speaking you will need motorcycle insurance BEFORE you register the bike, so call progressive. You will also need a local address to use for the registration process, this is where your local friend comes into help you with an address.

2) get a temporary registration from the same office and you'll be issued temporary license plates. In this scenario you'll still need the insurance, but you don't need a local address or anything permanent. The county where you buy the bike will give you a temporary plate that will allow you enough time to ride the bike out of town to get back to where your friend lives. Once you are in the county where your friend is loaning you a local address, you can do #1 above.

*it is important, in most states, to have something on your motorbike or else the law enforcement officer will pull you over. Try to avoid this buy satisfying either 1 or 2 above


B) Getting insurance through progressive is very easy; and as stated above, you'll need it in most states BEFORE you can register the bike. You can do this over the phone or in person with a local insurance agent. Progressive works with many independent agents in the US so they are not too hard to find. You can contact the toll free progressive phone number from their website and request the contact info for a local agent...go see that person and you can probably walk out of the office with an insurance card in hand...then you can proceed to the county clerk's office to register the bike.

-hope this helps
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