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  #1  
Old 19 Jan 2012
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bolivian motorcycle registration

hello all,

i have been told that it is un-necessary to have registration or papers for a motorcycle over 30 years old in bolivia. does anyone know if this is true or have any informaion on the legalities of a foreigner riding a motorcycle in bolivia.

im an australian in sucre and have been offered a 77 jawa 350 for 500 US. i know the previous owner rode it without rego or papers, though didn't get pulled up. the bloke who is selling it for him (a sucre local) seems certain that i am legal to simply get on and ride, due to it's age. he seems very trustworthy and is a good friend of a friend, so i am inclined to believe him.

plan is to buy it and just point it around bolivia for 1-2 months or until it breaks down. i do not expect to take it across borders, though if anyone knows an easy way to make this legally posible i would pursue this option. any other advice or info on traveling bolivia on a bike would be greatly appreciated. cheers, harry.
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  #2  
Old 24 Jan 2012
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G'day Harry
I'm a kiwi living in Cochabamba, Bolivia where i have lived on and off for 12 years.
Firstly, in regards to motorcycles over 30 years old not requiring paperwork - i'm afraid it is not something i've heard of and i highly doubt the truth of it.
I know for sure that this is not the case for cars/vans etc so doubt there would be an exception for motorcycles. In fact the country has just finished an amnesty period allowing owners of vehicles with paperwork problems, or no paperwork whatsoever, to get their papers in order - and this amnesty included motorcycles.
No disrespect to your friend but he does have an interest in selling the motorcycle and Bolivians like to tell people what they want to hear!
I know that here in Cochabamba the police regularly conduct "batidas" whereby they stop all motorcycles to check for motorcycle papers and rider's license. If neither is present the bike is put on a truck and taken to a holding point and how you get the bike back i don't know.
Now, in saying all the above, the worst that could happen is you have the bike confiscated - which at a value of $500 may be worth the risk. I know from my experience riding throughout Bolivia motorcycles are rarely required to stop at road tolls or other checkpoints.

You ask about making it legally possible to cross borders - if you buy a bike without papers it is not possible. Or rather, the cost and time involved would not be worth your while - especially for a bike valued at $500.

As to the legalities of a foreigner riding a motorcycle in Bolivia - obviously you need a license. Your home country license will suffice for the first 30 days you are in Bolivia (checked against your passport entry stamp). After that you will require a international license. All motor vehicles require SOAT insurance which is a compulsory medical insurance covering you and pedestrians/cyclists you may injure (regardless of fault) up to a value of $3500USD. This can be bought easily at many insurance companies for 190Bs (you require the motorcycle paperwork to attain it).

Lastly, foreigners without residency cannot legally buy a motor vehicle in Bolivia.

So, in summary, assuming you are not a resident, you can buy the illegal Jawa and take a chance or have you considered renting? I have some (fully legal) bikes available to rent - perhaps we could reach an agreement based on the length of the rental period.

If you have any further questions about anything at all in Bolivia please don't hesitate to PM me. I've bought and sold a few cars and bikes lately and have learnt a few hard lessons.

Kind regards
Cory
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  #3  
Old 11 Mar 2012
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Cory
Is the insurance needed to get across the border? If so can it be bought at the border crossings?

Thanks
Delb
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  #4  
Old 12 Mar 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hwater02 View Post
hello all,

i have been told that it is un-necessary to have registration or papers for a motorcycle over 30 years old in bolivia. does anyone know if this is true or have any informaion on the legalities of a foreigner riding a motorcycle in bolivia.

im an australian in sucre and have been offered a 77 jawa 350 for 500 US. i know the previous owner rode it without rego or papers, though didn't get pulled up. the bloke who is selling it for him (a sucre local) seems certain that i am legal to simply get on and ride, due to it's age. he seems very trustworthy and is a good friend of a friend, so i am inclined to believe him.

plan is to buy it and just point it around bolivia for 1-2 months or until it breaks down. i do not expect to take it across borders, though if anyone knows an easy way to make this legally posible i would pursue this option. any other advice or info on traveling bolivia on a bike would be greatly appreciated. cheers, harry.
It's not true, I know this because last year Evo Morales said that any vehicles without papers could be registered for the next 2 weeks provided they didn't appear on any stolen registrar in Argentina and Chile etc but after that two week period any vehicles after that found without registration will be impounded. Your friends 'friend' will also know this, as it was advertised on the news everyday for a month in the lead-up to the two week period.

Keep in mind that Bolivia has a lot of checkpoints where officials will ask for your license and occasionally check your papers against your bike. I can tell you that it doesn't matter which way you leave from Sucre, there are checkpoints (truncas) on the road to Potosi, the road to Santa Cruz, the road that runs direct to Oruro and the road that heads out towards Tarabuco.

Also sometimes in remote areas the FELCN will ambush you on the roads and demand your papers.

You may be able to ride this bike around Sucre without many problems (still a bit of a gamble) but the moment you leave you will be asking for trouble.

If you have a registered motorcycle and want to cross borders then take note that you will have to ride into Chile, they will not let you cross into Argentina from Bolivia with one of their bikes that's only complimented by a tourist visa. Once into Chile you can then cross back into Argentina.

I've done the bike registration process several times for myself and other people, it had become much more difficult the last time which was a bit over a year ago now, we had to argue a long time with a policeman at transito. Also there was a two month waiting list to perform a vehicle mechanical check at the FELCC, this was a new requirement in order to obtain registration. If you are buying a bike new then the process is much quicker but you still have to sign at transito and it could be problematic, though I have no doubts that it can still be done with a little persuasion.

Your best bet if you don't have much time (max visa stay in Bolivia is 3 months per year for Australians) would be to buy a motorcycle and keep it in the original owners name but make sure you carry the original papers along with the compra venta document stamped by the lawyer. I believe this can be used for up to 3 months before a transfer of registration is required.

Also it depends where you are going of course but a 35 year old Jawa won't last long on most Bolivian roads.
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  #5  
Old 12 Mar 2012
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Originally Posted by Delbert View Post
Cory
Is the insurance needed to get across the border? If so can it be bought at the border crossings?

Thanks
Delb
Sorry Delb i only just saw your post! I assume you are referring to the SOAT insurance and i'm afraid i don't know the answer 100% for sure. I do know that at the beginning of the year when you are supposed to buy SOAT there are little sales posts on every corner. As the year goes on they disappear and you have to go to the actual insurance companies themselves. I would assume from that therefore that you cannot buy SOAT at the border.

Cheers
Cory
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  #6  
Old 12 Mar 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Delbert View Post
Cory
Is the insurance needed to get across the border? If so can it be bought at the border crossings?
Hi Delb,
Doesn't the "Neighbouring countries" green card with Argentinian insurance cover Bolivia?

Duncan.
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  #7  
Old 13 Mar 2012
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Thanks Cory and Pocket for your detailed documented and informed reports about buying and legalizing vehicules in Bolivia.

I m surprised tho by one comment about the Bolivia not allowing foreigners to buy bolivian registered vehicules in Bolivia. I stopped by at a chinese motorcycle shop at the Mercado Campezino in Bolivia and the guy commented it was possible to buy a new vehicule with just a passport but would be complicated to leave Bolivia with it.

Anyways Bolivia is big and varied enough to fulfill any bikers dreams at any period of the year and at that price the financial risk is minimal. You can buy a new chinese trail bike in Asuncion as well for 1000 USD and travel legally in all South America...The bolivian border is just 800 km away from Asuncion.

Regarding the insurance, yes, it is compulsary and yes you can get one for Bolivia in Buenos Aires (different from the one for Chile). When i passed the border, the custom officer chose to trust me and gave me a address in Bermejo. I got stopped twice by the police and never was asked insurance. One questioned the french driving licence but accepted it after a short discussion.
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  #8  
Old 18 Mar 2012
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Hi all

Thanks for all of the detailed info in this thread!

My friend and I are currently in Uruguay and will be entering Bolivia in the next couple of weeks. We were really hoping to buy or rent bikes and complete a 2-4 week tour of the country (although I hear the weather in the north is currently pretty bad). We would not be crossing any borders.

We are both English and hold full UK drivers licences, however, neither of us have passed our CBTs so the licences are only for driving cars (stated only on the reverse of the licence). Could this be a problem?

Also, my friend lost his licence in Australia and has no photocopies.

We recently completed a 600km motorbike tour in Vietnam from Da Lat, up into the central highlands and back down into Saigon. It was a great experience and we were hoping to get a similar experience out of Bolivia.

I'm assuming the worst that could happen if we bought in Bolivia with just our passports, and got the insurance, would be the bike(s) getting confiscated?

In that case we might look to rent.

I also did some research into bikes and shortlisted three cheap and reliable models:

Suzuki GN 125
Honda CGL 125
Yamaha AG 100

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks

Ben
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  #9  
Old 18 Mar 2012
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New 125cc Japanese bikes in Bolivia will cost around 3000 USD. The 200/250 cc chinese trail bikes will serve the purpose well (as long as you stay in Bolivia) and cost around 10,000 Bolivianos (1500 USD). I m pretty sure you could make a buy back agreement with a vendor. If you want I can ask local bikers in Tarija if they are willing to assist you with your purchase and help you negociate. They are helping me customizing my bike and local craftmen do wonders for fairly cheap! (racks paniers sit lights...)

Depending on your weight and luggage, 100/125 engines could be a bit limited to climb some steep trails in the Andes.
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  #10  
Old 18 Mar 2012
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Hi Vorteks

Thanks for the reply.

Will the licences be an issue? We only have full car licences, not bike, and my friend has lost his.

The thing we're most worried about bike wise is reliability, as we're fairly new to bikes and would have no idea where to start with a breakdown! That's why i'm not so sure about the Chinese models. What about used Japanese models?

We only weigh about 70-80 kilos each and have only 20 kilos tops for luggage. I'm assuming 125 should be OK?

Would be great if you could look into that for us, the buy back would be invaluable, although i'm starting to think rental might be the way forward. Do you know how much a 3 week rental would cost, and what the requirements are for rental?

Many thanks!

Ben
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  #11  
Old 19 Mar 2012
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Licence : like any other country, you need a licence to drive a motorcycle. The difference with european countries is the application of the law, especially in Bolivia and Paraguay. You will most likely get no problem showing your british car license, since police officers are not accustomed to those licenses and you are allowed to drive one month with a foreign license in Bolivia. The licence is not needed to buy a motorcycle.

Chinese bikes : the chinese bikes are made out of cheaper raw material than japanese ones, but if you buy them new, the chance you get a problem over a 3 month period is fairly low. The advantage of chinese bikes is that you can find spare parts anywhere and they will sell easier since they are cheaper. Trying one as a pillon, i have been impressed by their confort and power (250cc), and they look nice (Kenton).

I have no idea how much time you will need to register the bikes. In Paraguay, delays last from one week to one month depending on your contacts.

One of the members who answered rents japanese bikes. This might be the easiest and quickest option, but not the most cost efficient (80 USD per day?). And a motorcycle license might be demanded.

I have a belgian friend here who bought a chinese 200 cc motorcycle in Paraguay.He waited 4 weeks for the papers to be done. He weights 100 kg and is doing just fine. He aims to go to Mexico with it. He never rode a motorcycle before.

Last edited by Vorteks; 19 Mar 2012 at 04:39.
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  #12  
Old 20 Mar 2012
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I heard today you could get a bolivian licence for 500 pesos bolivianos (70 USD). I need confirmation tho.
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  #13  
Old 22 Mar 2012
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The information about the ability to buy is confirmed.

I got additional informations. They usual delay to register a bike is about 10 days (costs 500 bolos as well) but with a 20 dollars note, you can accelerate it down to 2 days. The ability to leave the country was much more unclear (talked about taking plates off)
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Old 22 Mar 2012
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Question

Do any of these Bolivian Chinese bike dealers have a web site? Are there any locations you can recommend as being extra helpful towards foreign purchasers? etc.
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  #15  
Old 23 Mar 2012
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Originally Posted by brclarke View Post
Do any of these Bolivian Chinese bike dealers have a web site? Are there any locations you can recommend as being extra helpful towards foreign purchasers? etc.
.: Argos :.

Contact : Rene Zambrana Tel : 72696667

Told me he would take care of all papers if you bought from him.
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