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  #1  
Old 1 Feb 2012
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Buying a bike in the USA by foreigner then travelling to South America

Hello everyone!

I've just joined this amazing website and have already found zillions of answers. Good job! However, I still need to clarify several things, so perhaps someone could give me advice.

So, to cut the story short, I'm a 30-year-old from Russia, got a little fed up with my life and decided to quit the despondent environment in order to explore the sights and deal with the challenges of the Central and South America. I don't have any serious limitations timewise and have an amount of money sufficient to "ride the earth" up to 2 years

My present-day plan is to buy a bike in the USA and then move out to Argentina through Mexico and Latin America (incl shipping the bike in Panama to Columbia). The other 2 options to consider are to 1. buy it in Chile (the price is ~30% higher) or 2. ship the bike from Russia (too long, risky and expensive).

The major problem that I face if I follow the original scenario is that US license plates are valid only for 12 months (or 6 months for foreigners according to other sources), and one has to come back in order to extend the registration period. Needless to say I don't feel excited to break my trip and return to the US every (half a) year.

Can anyone clarify if things really work this way in the USA or perhaps the routine differs from state to state? Are there any means to evade the problem, e.g. register the vehicle to US citizen and receive a power of attorney, or just go without license plates, or send the documents to US by DHL in future? I'm pretty sure that I'm not unique in this matter and lots of people have already solved the same problem.

Please share your views on the issue.

Many thanks!

SM
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  #2  
Old 13 Feb 2012
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Buying, registering and renewing in the USA

I'm a British Citizen and bought my current bike in Utah, USA.

The previous owner let me keep the bike registered at his address so I just had to change the name on the Title document and get plates issued at the local DMV office. It took 20 mins.

The registration can be paid online but not with a foreign credit card as the Utah DMV site will only accept a US postal code. I have other friends in the US that pay it for me and then I pay them.

The registration is sent to me at the previous owners address and he forwards it to wherever I ask him to.

I've traveled through every mainland Central and South American country, often with expired registration and its never been questioned. The only reason I need to show it is because the Utah title does not shown the license plate number. I believe other states are different.

In order to change the Title you need to show proof of insurance. You can get this online through Progressive, one of the USA's biggest insurers.

The other issue you may encounter is the need for a safety check. In Utah the requirement is for a bi-annual inspection so I had it checked last time I was in Moab and that gave me two years.

The MOST important thing to check before you buy a bike is whether or not you require a State driving license. I think this is only true of a few States but could be a deal breaker.

Hope that helps

Adam
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  #3  
Old 13 Feb 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spacemonkey View Post
Hello everyone!

The major problem that I face if I follow the original scenario is that US license plates are valid only for 12 months (or 6 months for foreigners according to other sources
Welcome!!

US plates are valid forever but you have to renew them every year. In NY you renew your plates in April and they send you a new sticker to place on the plate. The plate is always the same.

Some states are easier to register a bike than others. I believe Maine or Vermont is easier than NY. In NY you need a whole bunch of documents to register so I would advise that you purchase a bike from another state.

If you need more infor let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Good luck,

John
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  #4  
Old 17 Feb 2012
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Hi, everyone!

I've no intention to hijack the thread, but I think my problem is similar to Spacemonkey's.

I am a Russian citizen as well and live in Moscow.

I'm going to buy a motorcycle in US, ride it to the port, and ship it to Finland where I'd pick it up, put in a van and take it home.

I already have some experience. Last year when I was in NY, I bought a used Harley from a dealer in Long Island. The dealer delivered it to a freight forwarder in New Jersey who offered a really good quote for shipping the bike to Klaipeda, Lithuania (only $250). My bike arrived in five weeks, so I went to Klaipeda, picked it up in the port, took it through Lithuanian customs, got a transit licence plate (made of cardboard, ) and insurance and rode it back to Moscow (customs again). So if anyone interested in Lithuanian bike shipping peculiarities, send a PM.


This time I am looking for a particular model, which is kind of vintage already and can rarely be found in a dealer's showroom. So I'll be buying from an individual. Thus, I'm not sure yet in which state I'll be making this purchase.

That said, I'd very much grateful for any input on my questions.

1) If I buy a bike from an individual, what is the leagal and safest way to go? Can we (seller and buyer) go to some dealer or other authorized firm (maybe a lawyer) who will do all the paperwork? Or just a home made Bill of Sale will do?

2) What do I have to do to be able to legally ride this bike in US through several states? I actually need only 3-5 days to get to the port in New Jersey. And I don't have too much time either, only about a week.

3) Insuracnce. I already know that a non-resident can get a purchased bike insured. But what about the price? How much is it approx? 10, 100 or 1000?

A few notes:
I have the Russian motorcycle driving license and an International license as well.
I have a friend in New York, who is an American (unfortuantely, he's terribly bad at legal stuff and knows nothing about motorcycles).
I'm on a tight budget.
I heard that some states do issue temporary plates for short time interstate drive (Illinois, for one).

Sorry again for butting in into the thread.

Cheers,
Anton.
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  #5  
Old 17 Feb 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barfly_Ru View Post
Hi, everyone!

I've no intention to hijack the thread, but I think my problem is similar to Spacemonkey's.

I am a Russian citizen as well and live in Moscow.

I'm going to buy a motorcycle in US, ride it to the port, and ship it to Finland where I'd pick it up, put in a van and take it home.

I already have some experience. Last year when I was in NY, I bought a used Harley from a dealer in Long Island. The dealer delivered it to a freight forwarder in New Jersey who offered a really good quote for shipping the bike to Klaipeda, Lithuania (only $250). My bike arrived in five weeks, so I went to Klaipeda, picked it up in the port, took it through Lithuanian customs, got a transit licence plate (made of cardboard, ) and insurance and rode it back to Moscow (customs again). So if anyone interested in Lithuanian bike shipping peculiarities, send a PM.


This time I am looking for a particular model, which is kind of vintage already and can rarely be found in a dealer's showroom. So I'll be buying from an individual. Thus, I'm not sure yet in which state I'll be making this purchase.

That said, I'd very much grateful for any input on my questions.

1) If I buy a bike from an individual, what is the leagal and safest way to go? Can we (seller and buyer) go to some dealer or other authorized firm (maybe a lawyer) who will do all the paperwork? Or just a home made Bill of Sale will do?

2) What do I have to do to be able to legally ride this bike in US through several states? I actually need only 3-5 days to get to the port in New Jersey. And I don't have too much time either, only about a week.

3) Insuracnce. I already know that a non-resident can get a purchased bike insured. But what about the price? How much is it approx? 10, 100 or 1000?

A few notes:
I have the Russian motorcycle driving license and an International license as well.
I have a friend in New York, who is an American (unfortuantely, he's terribly bad at legal stuff and knows nothing about motorcycles).
I'm on a tight budget.
I heard that some states do issue temporary plates for short time interstate drive (Illinois, for one).

Sorry again for butting in into the thread.

Cheers,
Anton.
Anton,

If you purchase from a private individual in NY all you need is the title signed by him and a bill of sale. You will also need insurance, the insurance company will email you an insurance card and you will need all 3 items plus your license to register in NY.

If you can get a license plate then you can ride it legally.

If you need help getting it to the port I can give you a hand (I have a trailer).

I have to go to the DMV office here in NYC to renew my license and will try to get you as much info as possible.

Good luck,

John
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  #6  
Old 17 Feb 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cinquegrana View Post
Anton,

If you purchase from a private individual in NY all you need is the title signed by him and a bill of sale. You will also need insurance, the insurance company will email you an insurance card and you will need all 3 items plus your license to register in NY.

If you can get a license plate then you can ride it legally.

If you need help getting it to the port I can give you a hand (I have a trailer).

I have to go to the DMV office here in NYC to renew my license and will try to get you as much info as possible.

Good luck,

John
Thanks for the info, John!

Do you know anything about the costs?
How much is insurance and registration? Does the temporary registration allow to go to other states? How long does it take from arriving at the DMV with all the docs and being able to ride? Do I have to surrender the original title to get a new one? Do I have to pay sales tax if I'm going to export the bike?
Can I get a vehicle inspection if it's expired? Where?

Thanks for your offer with the trailer, but first - I really doubt that I'll be able to find the bike I'm looking for around NY (that'd be an ideal situation, but I've been looking into the market for half a year already). And second, I always wanted to travel at least a little bit in the states on a bike. I have already drove cars in US (from NYC to Daytona Beach and back, and from LA to Vegas), but that's a different thing, as you know

Do you know about laws in Texas? I saw some really great listings there.

Sorry to shower you with questions, I've been piling them in my head for a year.
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  #7  
Old 17 Feb 2012
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Location: Tappan, NY USA
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Do you know anything about the costs?

Taxes in NY are 8.25% (or something like that), you pay the tax based on the bill of sale. Some people ask for a bill of sale for less than what they paid, not me

How much is insurance and registration?

Registration is $42.50 a year for a motorycle. I pay $98 a year for each KLR and $56 a year for each Puch. That's just liability insuance, since all my bikes are old I do not need full coverage. Insurance is low for me beacuse I live outside of NYC and everyone in my family is a responsible driver (no accidents or tickets).

Does the temporary registration allow to go to other states?

Usually temp registrations are valid for 20 or 30 days and yes you can drive in any state.

How long does it take from arriving at the DMV with all the docs and being able to ride?

Depends on the lines at DMV (department of motor vehicles), it usually takes about 30 to 50 minutes. You can be riding in an hour. You have 10 days to get the bike inspected. Bike inspections cost $6 in NY and take less than 10 mins.


Do I have to surrender the original title to get a new one?

Yes, you give them the original title and they give you a temporary registration and mail you the new title in about a month.

Do I have to pay sales tax if I'm going to export the bike?

You might be exempt but I'll have to look into this.

Can I get a vehicle inspection if it's expired? Where?

You have to get it inpsected no matter what, it takes a few mins and can be done at most motorcycle shops in NYC.

Thanks for your offer with the trailer, but first - I really doubt that I'll be able to find the bike I'm looking for around NY (that'd be an ideal situation, but I've been looking into the market for half a year already). And second, I always wanted to travel at least a little bit in the states on a bike. I have already drove cars in US (from NYC to Daytona Beach and back, and from LA to Vegas), but that's a different thing, as you know

Do you know about laws in Texas? I saw some really great listings there.

Sorry, no experience with laws in Texas. Iw ould think it would be a pain to get anything registered in Texas since they hate foreginers

What kind of bike are you looking for?


Sorry to shower you with questions, I've been piling them in my head for a year.
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  #8  
Old 17 Feb 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barfly_Ru View Post
Last year when I was in NY, I bought a used Harley from a dealer in Long Island. The dealer delivered it to a freight forwarder in New Jersey who offered a really good quote for shipping the bike to Klaipeda, Lithuania (only $250).
You want to send to Finland? Four years ago, I payed around 170 euros just to simply pick up my bike from the port in Helsinki (...payed just about 500 to send the thing from Sydney to here, then payed 170 at the port, how weird is that?!) Still think the total sum was okay, but it´s a good indication of how nothing is cheap in Finland.

Next time I´ll probably send to somewhere in the Baltic states, or Germany, and ride the last bit home.
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  #9  
Old 17 Feb 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cinquegrana View Post
I pay $98 a year for each KLR and $56 a year for each Puch. That's just liability insuance, since all my bikes are old I do not need full coverage. Insurance is low for me beacuse I live outside of NYC and everyone in my family is a responsible driver (no accidents or tickets).
That's not too much. Do you think it'll be more for a foreigner's insurance? Is it possible to get insurance for a shorter period of time, say, a month?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cinquegrana View Post
Yes, you give them the original title and they give you a temporary registration and mail you the new title in about a month.
That sounds like a problem. Is it possible to register the bike and keep the title, because I don't really need it changed as I'm exporting the bike in a few days? Or maybe it's possible to come to the DMV myself and just pick up the title a few days later? You see, as far as I know, one cannot export a vehicle without a title, and I don't have the whole month but 10 days at maximum.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cinquegrana View Post
You might be exempt but I'll have to look into this.
This info would be very valuable. Last year when I bought the bike, I didn't pay tax, but neither did I register it, let alone riding it there - I had it delivered straight to the freight company.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cinquegrana View Post
Sorry, no experience with laws in Texas. I would think it would be a pain to get anything registered in Texas since they hate foreginers
Is that so? Never been to Texas. However, people say I'm an outgoing person, I think I can find a common language with them

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cinquegrana View Post
What kind of bike are you looking for?
I think this is off topic in this thread. I'll send you a PM.


Thanks again for the info, John.
I hope other people will also find it useful.
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  #10  
Old 17 Feb 2012
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Originally Posted by pecha72 View Post
You want to send to Finland? Four years ago, I payed around 170 euros just to simply pick up my bike from the port in Helsinki (...payed just about 500 to send the thing from Sydney to here, then payed 170 at the port, how weird is that?!) Still think the total sum was okay, but it´s a good indication of how nothing is cheap in Finland.

Next time I´ll probably send to somewhere in the Baltic states, or Germany, and ride the last bit home.
Well, Kotka, Finland is a bit closer to Moscow then Klaipeda. I didn't research the recent prices, but from what I heard that it's a popular (for many reasons) destination for Russians who buy cars and bikes from the US.
My Lithuanian experience wasn't a pleasant one, but it worked fine in the end.
But I had my reasons to chose Klaipeda as the destination. BTW, I also had to pay port charges, but it was like 40-50 EUR.

And now your post makes me think that I really should stick to the known road instead of the "shorter" one. Thanks for the input, Pecha!
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  #11  
Old 18 Feb 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barfly_Ru View Post
That sounds like a problem. Is it possible to register the bike and keep the title, because I don't really need it changed as I'm exporting the bike in a few days?
Every state is a little different, so you should double-check, but you should just be able to sign on the back of the title (maybe have the seller sign as well), and that will be proof that you own the bike. A "new" title would simply be one in which your name is printed on the document. Since you are exporting the bike, I don't think you need a new title.

The easiest way to do this might be to simply buy the bike, convince the seller to keep his plates/registration on the bike for a few days, sign the back of the title, and go. The only snag might be that you might not be able to get insurance if the bike is still registered in the seller's name, so you should check that. Once you get to the port you might need to send the license plates back to the seller (in some states you cannot cancel insurance unless you turn in your plates).

As others have stated, things are different in every state, and in some states it is very difficult to register a bike unless you live there, so be sure to check carefully.
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