Go Back   Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB > Planning, Trip > Trip Paperwork

Trip Paperwork Covers all documentation, carnets, customs and country requirements, how to deal with insurance etc.
Contact Overland Solutions for all your custom modifications and setup for overland travel.

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 9 Mar 2008
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: colorado
Posts: 3
American Buying a Bike in UK for trip through Europe

This is a really specific question that I haven't been able to answer from all the great posts on this site. So here goes:

I'm an American looking to buy a bike in the UK, travel by bike through Europe, and eventually reach Cairo. I don't have insurance in my home country. I know I need green card insurance for the EU, and that I can buy insurance at the border for most other countries. Can I legally buy a bike, buy green card insurance, and get transit tags in the UK while being a US citizen?

Also, I'm unclear about insurance still. Say I kept my bike and I drive somewhere outside the EU and I must buy insurance at the border for however much. Is that all I need? What does that even mean to buy insurance at the border? Does that mean I'm insured by that country, or do they contract with some company to provide insurance to tourists? Basically, I want to buy a bike in the UK, and know that I can drive in northern africa or the middle east and be legally sound.

Reply With Quote
Old 9 Mar 2008
Registered Users
HUBB regular
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: NYer living in Finland and traveling through Europe
Posts: 64
There are a great many posts on here that if you search you will find your answers. Also you can search my posts and you will see my thoughts on doing that. Short form is that my opinion is that its a lot cheaper buying in the states and shipping over. And thats stated from experience.
Reply With Quote
Old 9 Mar 2008
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Nantes, France
Posts: 397

BA, I think most of this has been well covered elsewhere. In short, a UK address is needed to buy and insure a bike. This will get you all over the EU no problem. Beyond that, insurance is invariably available on the border.

Things do get complicated however in terms of permission to enter - have a look at the topics on "carnet de pssage".

It all depends on which non-European countries you want to go to. Each has its own set up, varying from easy to infernal-teeth grinding-hair pulling nightmare.

Simon Kennedy
Around the world 2000-2004, on a 1993 Honda Transalp
Reply With Quote
Old 11 Mar 2008
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: colorado
Posts: 3
thanks for the posts. however, shipping a bike from the US: minimum of $400 or something, right? possibly waaaay more. So if I can buy a bike in UK for equivalent price, pay 50 euro for green card insurance, and whatever small fee to get transit tags, how is it cheaper to waste money shipping a bike I just bought from the US to the UK? Especially if I'll have to get the insurance anyway. Just don't see that, unless there's some huge hidden expense I don't know about yet.

Also, I understand you have to have a UK address to buy and register a bike in the UK. However, I'm only interested in getting it out of the UK and the EU altogether. Would I still need a UK address to just get transit tags? Doesn't really make sense that I would, since the bike is clearly not staying in the UK. This question should be answered definitively soon enough, as I have an email in to the DVLA, and they're working to get an answer to these questions. I'll make sure to post for others with the same questions

Last edited by bombsaway; 11 Mar 2008 at 21:28.
Reply With Quote
Old 11 Mar 2008
Registered Users
HUBB regular
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: ATLANTA
Posts: 38
bike in uk

Hey mate.I think your looking at way more shipping cost than that.I am shipping my bike by air from toronto canada as the only one in usa i can find was more expensive.plus i can fly on the same plane as my bike' It is $1500 from toronto to london one way.also the green card insurance is $600 for 2 months and then my flight cost. lucky ive got free miles so dont have to pay that.for shipping it will cost you about $800 one way plus your insurance and your fight.i think either way your looking at between 2k to 3k. Now if you buy a bike there don't forget our dollar sucks so 3k uk pounds is $6000.It certainly isn't cheap either way but if you take your bike from here i think it will be cheaper and less hassle.Just thought i'd give you an idea of the real costs.
Reply With Quote
Old 12 Mar 2008
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: colorado
Posts: 3

thanks for the advice. I received a very thorough and informative email from the DVLA today explaining the situation. The only question I had for you was the green card insurance. Where are you getting $600 for 2 months? Everyone on this site, and the sites I've checked quote 50 euro/month.

So, here's the deal on buying a bike in the UK.

You do not have to be a citizen. All you need is a friend with a UK address (thank god I studied in glasgow) and you're good to go. You have to pay taxes on the bike (although I think if you're exporting it out of the country the same day you register it, you might be able to skip this. If the bike leaves the UK for less then 12 months, it's still considered registered there, but under temporary export. Over 12 months is considered permanent export.

The only trick is that if the current owner has the old registration form, you'll have to apply for the new kind when you pay your taxes, and that will take 20-30 business days to process. So that's kind of a hold up.

Anyway, I decided that the cost of doing a motorcycle trip in Europe right now is just too high for me. So I'm going old school on my perfectly serviceable bicycle. See you all around. You'll probably be passing me this summer while I'm struggling up hills in Switzerland. rock on! happy trails.
Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 Registered Users and/or Members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Bike needed for Western Europe trip chasetheday TRAVEL Bikes for Sale / Wanted 3 2 Apr 2007 22:11
Bike for Northern Europe (+ Iceland) and North America rob_melb_au Which Bike? 6 30 Dec 2006 23:30
Buying bike in Peru, Sell Chi or Arg? cyrusa Trip Paperwork 5 18 Nov 2006 23:47
Buying A Bike in Europe SteveACE Europe 3 25 Apr 2006 20:49
buying a used bike in the U.K. Travel central Europe, carnet KB Trip Paperwork 3 22 Apr 2004 17:22


NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!

Next HU Eventscalendar

See all events


Latvia to Australia, an inspirational 5 month journey full of unexpected adventures!

Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 06:46.