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Buying in Europe for Africa trip: reg, insurance, carnet
I'm an American and have been looking into the possibility of purchasing a bike in Europe (or South Africa), with which to tour in Africa.
I gather it has recently (within the last year) been made illegal for any non-Europeans to register and insure vehicles in Europe. Can anyone comment on that situation? What if I know someone with an address in the given country?
If it is possible, how long would it take to register (and possibly insure) it?
I've already searched the HUBB. I'm aware of the Green Card and it's availability in Germany, and that in England (which had looked like a good place to buy) it wouldn't be possible (or would be very hard) for me to insure a UK-bought bike. However, none of the posts seem to reflect the possible recent change in European policy regarding foreigners registering/insuring cars.
What about just buying a bike off someone in Europe, and chance riding it for one or two days until Morocco? What papers do they check departing Europe, and entering Morocco?
I know for Africa I'd need an official-looking document to prove I own the vehicle, and while I'd much prefer to do it legally, am willing to considering more "resourceful" alternatives. Any suggestions?
In the case that buying legally in Europe is not possible, how is the situation in South Africa? Would it be easy to purchase a cheap used bike there, and register it under my name? How long would the registration process take, and what is the situation with insurance there? I gather that in surrounding countries, it's usually compulsory or at least available at the border.
Lastly, whereas I am a licensed car driver, I don't have a motorcycle license. Also, my car license was stolen along with my wallet awhile ago, so I only have a photocopy (I've been overseas for six months, and I need to visit the DMV in person for a new one). How could those facts inconvenience me?
Wow, that's a lot of questions!
Thanks a lot, this site is a great resource.
[This message has been edited by bbevan (edited 14 January 2006).]
I'm not aware of any rule-change. However, it has long been illegal/impossible to register vehicles for foreigners in most European countries.
In Germany you can use export plates and get the Green Card from ADAC, but they don't do carnets for foreigners, plus some countries (even Italy!) don't recognise these plates.
You could register the bike in GB and insure it in Germany, but you still won't have a carnet.
Apparently, it may be possible to officially register a residence in Germany, even though you don't have a residence permit. Say, for ex., you bought a holiday home here (perfectly legal). You could then register vehicles in Germany. If you have a German bank account the ADAC will probably sell you a carnet. You do need some kind of proof of residence to register. This can be a piece of paper from a German friend saying you are renting a room there.
How to register a bike in the UK has been described elsewhere on HUBB, you have to use the search function.
I woudn't risk riding with only a copy of my licence. The first cop looking at it will take you out of circulation. Try contacting your nearest consulate or embassy. Other expats must be in a similar situation.
<font face="" size="2">Why is it so hard? I just want to ride! </font>
Because travellers with vehicles are a microscopic minority which our rulers don't even give one microsecond of consideration. They make the rules to keep their own countries ticking over. These days people fly everywhere and then rent a car. Works. Makes a lot of money. Is taken care of.
and then want to sell in another country. This leads to import duties, rego compliance laws (more money) .. meeakes it very time consuming to do. Maybe easier to sell to a wrecker for parts only (saves the compliance law bit).
The easiest option is to sell in the same country you bought in. That is ok for places like Australia, or Europe .. but Africa is a bit complex for that kind of thing - unless you only do one coast.
Buying in South Africa is relatively easy and the AA of SA will issue carnets for non-residents of SA without too much hassle. Insurance for Southern Africa is called the comesa and can be bought at borders or at insurance offices in many countries.
The AASA contact for carnets is Abigail Branders (email firstname.lastname@example.org). In my experience she has been very efficient.
Only downside with buying in SA is the lack of good used overland bikes in Cape Town. There are plenty of bike 600 cc thumpers around, but I found it difficult buying a good used bike in my price range. Comparable prices for a used single cyclinder 600cc bike are probably 15-20% more than in Europe / States / Oz etc.
Thanks for the info. It looks like South Africa is my best option. I'm not too worried about selling it when I'm done; I plan to buy a cheap bike that I won't mind ditching should it come to that. Also, I'd planned on getting a smaller bike, possibly a 250, but would consider a larger overlander if the price is right. How is the availability of smaller bikes?
As for the carnet, it seems that if I start in South Africa and stick roughly to the West coast, I could do without it, possibly all the way to Europe. I know it can be a relatively inexpensive document for the trouble it can save, but I think I'll just avoid those countries that require it. My plans are fluid such that I'm not married to any single route (or any carnet-requiring country).
It seems that Cape Town is where all the action is in terms of motorcycles. I'd be flying into Joburg; can anyone speak for the availability of bikes there?
Also; looks like my consulates in HK/Guangzhou can't help me with obtaining a new licence without going back to california, at least not for a potentially long (months) time. Would registration in SA likely be a problem with an IDP and my photocopy? I will try to get a letter or other document from my embassy stating that I am indeed a licenced driver. Another thing is that I'm licenced for motorcycles on my IDP, but not my CA licence photocopy. Is that likely to be a problem, or should I just photoshop an "M" on my licence?
Sorry, I should clarify my last post about bike availability. The selection of bikes itself in both Cape Town and Joburg is actually fairly good, however, I found the selection of overlanding bikes that were cheap comparable to other countries was quite small. If you have the cash, you can buy whatever you want in SA.
I think IDP is okay for SA, but don't quote me on this. Check with the AA of SA. I was stopped twice for speeding and let off both times when i showed an Aussie licence. Further north, you can probably bluff your way through with any official looking bit of paper.
i'm a canadian. i'm hoping to purchase a bike in europe and ride to iran this fall. i'm told i can buy a carnet from the canadian automobile association even though i purchase, register and insure abroad. should be the same for americans, no? any insight into which countries are best to initiate this process would be appreciated!
interesting subject. After some lengthy pfone calls with the rego office in Munich and the German AA (ADAC) I can offer the following infos:
a) It is no problem to get a German rego for a vehicle bought in Germany, even if the person is a non-resident of any of the EU countries. In the case of being a non-resident, only an "export rego" is possible. This can be obtained for the maximum period of one year. Within this year the vehicle may reenter Germany and can be sold here.
b) Any foreigner can, of course if he has a provisional visa for any Shengen country and has a local address in this country for the period his visa is valid, register his vehicle as a resident of that country.
c) In both cases it is possible to get an insurance for the vehicle - in the case of Germany the insurance is valid as long as the vehicle is termed "roadworthy". This roadworthiness test has to be conducted every two years.
d) A carnet is definitely issued by the ADAC also to foreigners, whether resident or not.
The big problem is: The carnet has to be stamped out by the customs office of that country into which the vehicle is FINALLY imported. If returned to Germany this is naturally no problem, if it was registered here and returned after the journey. If it is NOT returned to Germany, the ADAC requires the import documentation of the country of final position of the vehicle (see above).
The ADAC told me that in several cases people, who had finally imported the vehicle to the USA had really big problems to get the carnet stamped by the US customs office, because a carnet is not necessary for European vehicles. So they do not see the need to stamp any carnet..... :-(
Carnets are valid for max one year, but can be extended for max one year.
e) The ADAC offers medic insurances for foreigners, but only if they have a visa for Germany and a "permanent" address for the time their visa is valid.
Hope this helps.
If anybody needs more info, please don't hesitate to contact me.
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