How to buy a bike in Nepal and drive it home!
Since it seems to me that this platform is mainly used for questions concerning trip-planing, but rarely to share informations on how one actually managed to ride a trip out, I wanted to share my experience and put together a list of tips, tricks, useful advices and addresses for anybody that is interested in purchasing a bike in Nepal and ride it home.
Finding a bike.
If you take some time to look around you will find some nice Enfields in Kathmandu and Pokhara.
But forget about the idea to buy a cheap (Nepali registered) Royal Enflield in Nepal! The import tax on foreign bikes is ridiculously high. Other motorcycles like Japanese off road bikes (XL) are hard to find and very rare, since they stopped importing them many years ago. The ones you will find are at least 15 years old, not bigger than Honda 185cc and will coast you around 150.000 to 180.000 NPR (1.500 - 1.800 Euro), (approximately 200 % import tax on Japanese bikes). The only cheap bikes are Korean and Chinese brands.
If you are looking for classical Enfields in very good condition and nicely modified Yamaha bikes, then try the motorbike club in Pokhara called Hearts & Tears ( www.heartsandtears.com ). The owner, a British guy called Rick, is very helpful, reliable and a great source of information. If you buy one of his bikes, he will help you with all the necessary paperwork and set you up with two great mechanics for some extra service and lessons on the bike. One for Yamahas (Ram Babu) and one for Enfields (Raju). I've never seen such good mechanics. I bought a RXG Yamaha bike from Rick and had not a single problem so far! He has been a great help in planing the trip and I can't recommend him highly enough.
Some second hand bike dealers you'll find in Teku (a street south of Kathmandu, parallel to the Bagmati river) or around the New Road in Pokhara. There is a Enfield Dealer called "Himalayan Enfielders" off of Lazimpat right next to the Israeli Embassy, but they are not what they used to be anymore and should be avoided. I had lots of hassle with them, as they are very incompetent, dishonest, lie in your face and will rob you for as much as they can. (Quote from one previous customer: "..my overwhelming impression of the Himalayan Enfielders is f.... useless and avoid!"). A guy called Lakhsman and also the previous owner Binot both seem to be nice guys though.
Royal Enfields: True & False
True, you can get Enfields for just a few hundred bucks in Nepal and in India, BUT only with Indian number plates! As soon as you register a Enfield (or any other bike) in Nepal, you have to take into account the 130% Nepali government tax and the price of the bike will suddenly double. It's true that you can ride an Indian registered bike in India and in Nepal, no problem. BUT as a foreigner you won't get a carnet de passage for Indian plates which you need to enter Pakistan and Iran. BUT it is possible to register a bike under your name in Nepal and therefore you can get the carnet! At least I got it. (I've heard that if the Indian bike is pre '81 you apparently don't even need a carnet, but you will have obvious problems at borders "where're your papers" etc).
First of all - don't panic, it is possible!
1. Find the right bike for you.
2. Then all you need is to get the blue owners book (equivilant to V5 documents in UK and the Fahrzeugschein in Germany) transferred into your name at the registration office. This can be done in Kathmandu at the ministry of transport or in Pokhara at the tax office, depending where the bike has been registered before. If you buy one of Ricks bikes he will help you with the registration. If you don't have such help, ask one of the local "guides" outside of the office for some help in return for some Rupees.
To register a bike in Nepal under your name isn't a problem! All you need is a "no objection" letter from your embassy in Kathmandu. (The letter will basically state that the embassy has 'no objection' of you buying a bike in Nepal). This letter isn't hard to get. Also make sure that there is no outstanding road tax due on the bike. You will have to clear any outstanding before they transfer the ownership.
You need: some passport pics, a photo of the bike, the engine- and the frame number, a copy of your passport, a copy of the invoice of the bike, the no objection letter from your embassy, some time and your finger prints.
3. Then you have to get the blue owners book translated, since it is only in Nepali. This will be done by your embassy. (I know of a guy who just typed up an English translation of the blue book in a Word document which was good enough for the RAC).
4. In order to get the carnet de passage (necessary if you want to cross Pakistan and Iran) your home country motoring club (RAC in England, German equivalent is the ADAC) wants to have a proof, that you're actually living in Nepal. But it is enough proof for them if you manage to get the bike registered in Nepal under your name. I got my carnet from the German ADAC, no prob. A British friend of mine got his carnet for a Enfield a couple of month ago. Apparently you can also get your carnet in Nepal - there is a counter part for the Austrian motoring club ÖAMTC in Kathmandu: The Automobile Association of Nepal (AAN), P.O. Box 2184 Kathmandu, Tel. (00977/61) 21 088, Fax (00977/1) 415 593. They are supposed to issue carnets as well, but I found it impossible to get a hold of the responsible officer.
To apply for the carnet you'll need to ask your home bank to freeze in a amount of around 3000 Euro. This deposit has to be paid in advance! So make sure you talk to your home bank first, put some money on the side (normally double or three times the amount of the bikes value) before you apply for the carnet. Keep in mind that the carnet is something like a visa for your bike and it will free you from paying any import/export tax by entering/leaving a country with a vehicle. If something happens to your bike (accident, stolen, etc.) and it is impossible for you to export the bike again, you obviously won't get the necessary exit stamp and therefore you won't get your full deposit back.
Papers required for the carnet: your passport, the blue owners book, the translation of each page of the blue owners book, the bank statement of the deposit and the completed carnet form. The whole process will usually not take longer than 10 days, including the sending via DHL. (Fax copies, or scan copies as email attachments).
- Payment info: carnet, either 5,10,20 pages: 150 pounds or around 200 Euros.
- Refundable deposit (paid back when you get to your home country and return the carnet ): depends on the
RAC/ADAC and the value of the bike - roughly double.
- Insurance indemnity: also based on the value of the bike. Minimum fee 200 pounds. (Go minimum!)
To get more infos on the carnet de passage, check the RAC/ADAC website.
5. If you have all the visa (you can't get the Iranian visa in Nepal and the Indian visa will take some time and good nerves!), international driving license, passport, carnet de passage, international insurance card (green card), copies of all the documents and some passport photos and cash for Iran (no ATM's for foreigners) then you are ready to hit the road!
Note: it will take AT LEAST one month to register the bike, get the blue book translated, apply for the carnet de passage and to get the necessary visa. Not included to search for a bike.
Tips and Tricks
The hardest thing to find in Nepal is the right information.
-The owner of the motorbike supply shop "Royal International Motorcycle" (on Kantipath right next to the American Club and opposite of the Honda show room), Mr. Tulsi, has some of the finest motorbike equipment in Nepal and is probably the best source for information in Kathmandu - he basically knows everybody that has something to do with motorcycles. (Nr 9851060693).
-If you need some welding work on your bike, (to attach a luggage system), try a place near the ring road at Nayabazar. It's a shop right next to a small garage with an orange sign, left hand side right before the intersection of the ring road.
-For extra work on your backpack, tankback, etc.ask Mr. Tulsi for a tailor in Thamel - they are little artists.
- A good source for general information and good drinks is Verena from Sam's Bar in Thamel. She has been living in Nepal for a long time and knows a lot of people.
And if for some reason you don't have a driving license for you bike yet, then go to the Ministry of Transport in the south of Kathmandu/Patan at the Ring Road and get one. It's really easy and it will take around 3-7 days and cost around 20-40 Euros (depending on the bribes). The written exam is Kindergarten-level (how many colors has the traffic light? A:1 B:2 C:3 D:4) and the driving test (trial) consists of driving around five polls and will take around 10 seconds! Go to the ministry of transportation and register yourself for the driving license, next day do the written exam, next day the trial and some more paperwork, then it takes a couple of days until you can pick up your license. Note: if you pay extra you can speed up the process.
Good luck and a great time on the road!
Ride safe. Phil
Phil Dera Photography
Outstanding Phil, a lot of time and effort has gone in to this write up. Been wanting to get to this part of the world for a while now.... tempting, tempting....
very nice job man!
makes me want to go there and get one even though I don't really need it (-:
thank you for the comprehensive post. You mentioned somewhere in your post saying that you need to prove to your home automobile association that you have living in Nepal in order for them to issue a no objection letter for you to buy the bike. So does that mean that a tourist cannot buy a bike in Nepal or do u have some way around it?
Hi, interesting report, thanks for posting.
Couple of questions:
Do I understand you correctly, that there is a 130% tax when registering a bike in Nepal?
Also: I'm planning on touring India, Nepal and hopefully Pakistan and Iran for six months on an Enfield. Intend to buy rather than rent. Would it be possible to enter Pakistan and Iran with a Nepalese-registered bike? Could I get a Carnet in Nepal (I would eventually return it there and sell it)?
No regisraion of address office in Nepal!
you got me wrong. Since there is no such thing as a registration office in Nepal, it will be enough for our home outomobile club if ou are able to register the bike under your name, which is not a problem in Nepal! Even as a tourist.
Hope I could help.
Phil Phil Dera Photography
130 % or even more!
yes, that's right: 130% or even more, depending on the bike.
As a matter of fact, I'm doing Pakistan, Iran, etc. at the moment. In Syria right now on a nepali registered bike! No prob. But you will need a carnet! Which I got from the german ADAC. Carnet in Nepal seems to be possible in theory, but I didn't manage to get one.
Phil Phil Dera Photography
Phil - Thank you for taking your time to type all of that out. Gold! Just what I was looking for.
One thing though: Most embassies these days have made a new policy of refusing to issue letters of non-objection. It is a protest against the Nepali bureaucracy, and they are tired of having to spend time on issuing them for every little thing. I managed to plead my embassy to write me one, so that I would be able to get a student visa for my studies here. I do not think they will issue one for the sake of a carnet or IDP. But then again, that's just my thought and it never hurts to ask - right? There are other ways of course - which is exactly why the bureaucracy will never change.
Anyways, just thought I would post the update on the issuing of letters of non-objection.
Again - thank you so much!
first of all: you are very welcome. Like I said, the hardest thing in Nepal is to get the right information.
second: I was working for the embassy before I went on this trip, so obviously that helped. But I know of a couple of guys who managed to get the no-objection letter from theire embassys - the last one just a couple of weeks ago.
Hi, 'been working and running and riding an Enfield in Nepal for three years. I'd agree with all the above, but a few points to add.
With a bike simply forget importing (due to cost) or buying secondhand (due to appalling mechanical skills). If you're coming and wanting to ride back, or on doing any big ride, plan to be buying a new bike. Yes tax is high but my brand new disc brake 5 speed Bullet cost me less than 1,600GBP (same in Euro these days !). You could ride it home sell it, and just about cover your costs.
As said previously on this string though, that'll take the best part of a month 'cos once you're registered you'll have to get you Carnet sent out from what ever country you're going to arrange it with (your own). In UK this simply isn't a problem, that much I know. Anyway there are worse and more expensive places to stay for a month than Nepal :)
The last thing is a word of advise on Enfields. There are a lot of foriegn riders on Enfields in Nepal who simply don't ride them and dont know the back wheel from the front. Yes they get ripped off, but they deserve to when they go shouting into workshops wanting this that and the other tomorrow so they can do their annual 5km ride (a lot also dont seem to know about the tax issues which mean spares parts are much more than in India - though still way cheaper than Europe, etc).
This is Nepal so come with a view to sit around a lot and drink tea..things happen when they happen in regards to paperwork, bike repairs, etc. I previously worked about 200kms from 'Himalayan Enfielders' and on three occassiosn they called me out to deal with 'problem foriengers'. i.e shouting, ranting, raving idiots, who would only accept mechnaical adivse, etc, from a white person..very sad, but act like a prat here an you'll be treated like one and get ripped off (and will deserve it).
'Enfielders' is indeed not what is was, but Imtaz IS OK as a mechanic (ask for him specifically), but No mechnics here have 'mechnianical sympathy' so they're OK to bolt things together, but never let them near an engine rebuild or anything (though Raju in Pokhara is OK) !
one last thing. I'm just about to set off back home - India, Pakistan, Iran, etc (to UK) but may have an Iran visa issue due to previous work experience there (I work for NGOs, and they have 'issues' with anyone they know was involved in the Bam earthquake response). Anyway, if I fail to get my Iran visa (I'll know in three weeks) my bike could be up for grabs. This a 30K (no problems, I maintian it myself and have changed the oil every 1000kms - crazy I know, but I'm like that with engines !) Enfield Bullet, with 30k KMs done over three years, Givi panniers with re-inforced frames, 18 (rather than 14) lires tank, UK Dunlop K181 tyres, gel seat, full spare ignition system and on-the-road spares, etc, all set up and ready to go (even has a carnet, but obvously in my name, but all reg papers, etc are already lodged wit the RAC in the UK so issuing a Carnet in your name would take them only minutes - plus your cheque :) of course). Blue book is in my name and takes only a letter from me to tranfer it to you. Anyway keep your eyes on the site if your interested, as if its up for sale it'll be in about three weeks. If you don't see it I got my visa and 'am on my way :thumbup1:
PS. If anyone is serious in a new bike put up a post as I'm going down the importers on monday and can ask new prices for wat ever they currently have in stok (in the past they have run out of new bikes for MONTHS so be warned. Don't turn up and expect there to be rows and rows to choose from !)
Kudos for the great thread. I've been bumming around the india/nepal scene on an enfield for a while, but never found this information. I might well buy one this summer and head back to blighty on it...
Just a note:
the url for Hearts And Tears above, doesn't work. Its spelt right in the post, but not the link itself. This one should work: Hearts & Tears Motorcycle Club Pokhara, Nepal :: Bike Adventures In The Himalayas
Looks like a good place - I'll give them a shout when I'm next in Pokhara!
recently started an email conversation with Rick from Hearts and Tears, sounds like a really helpful person!
Most of the information seems to be up to date, even two years after the first post.
We have been riding round europe and north africa for over 4 months and are now in Duabi planning to head up to Nepal and into India. We have been 2 up on a KTM but my wife also rides and really would like to get a bike in Nepal and ride aswell, maybe all the way to Oz rather than just India and Nepal.
We are on the road for a long time yet so we do not have a big budget, so what are new bikes selling for these days and if we keep it for 3/4 months and sell it on how much do we stand to lose?
Thanks very much in advance.
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