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Trip Paperwork Covers all documentation, carnets, customs and country requirements, how to deal with insurance etc.
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Old 8 Oct 2008
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What do I need for America?

OK, I know it's a long way off but I've decided I'm going to do America in 2012! I'm going to ship my bike to New York, ride across to LA, up to San Francisco and back to NY via Mt. Rushmore. What do I need to do the trip (paperwork I mean)? If you want to know more about my proposed trip, see my thread on ADV riders for more details :-D

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Last edited by Gecko; 28 Oct 2008 at 14:24.
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Old 8 Oct 2008
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i recently figured things out myself (i'm from the netherlands) you don't need anything really. i you do your research on the US customs site you'll find an article saying that everyone is allowed to bring any kind of vehicle and use it for a year in the US. longer than a year requires official import.

just make sure you have a proper visa.

i shipped my bike over to alaska. the customs official didn't know too much about clearing motorcycles and started a very difficult and expensive procedure involving a customs broker and $$.

Eventually all we needed was Customs form 3299. With this form the whole customs clearance procedure took about 10 minutes and no $$.

But it all happened in Alaska, dunno if it goes for the rest of the US ;-)

edit: forgot to mention the obvious: Insurance /edit


Last edited by sanderd; 8 Oct 2008 at 22:31.
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Old 9 Oct 2008
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Hi Mortis - here is some info I posted on XT660.com for someone asking a similar question - hope it helps:

Certainly if you are going for more than a few weeks, then it is cheaper to take your own bike than to hire - and of course you won't be limited to where you can ride (hire companies don't tend to like you going seriously off-tarmac, for obvious reasons).

The other option is to buy, but that is a whole other thread (or read the June 08 issue of TBM magazine, ahem).

So as a quick FAQ for anyone else considering heading to the US with their own bike:

• Someone like Motorcycle Express can handle all the shipping (by air) for you, but it will cost around £1000 (each way).

When I brought my XR650 back from the US last year (using a local US shipping agent - you tend to use an agent in the country you are sending from btw.) I paid around £700, but had to build my own crate.

This year I used their opposite number here in the UK - a company based in Manchester called Air&Cargo Services Ltd. Unfortunately due to fuel prices and the exchange rate, the cost is closer to £1000 now, especially as the US customs dept. seemed to want more for clearance than the UK do...

• As a 'tourist' machine, you won't have any tax or import duty to pay, but you need to make sure the authorities realise it is not a permanent import. A letter stating as much to your shipping agent will suffice.

• A carnet is not required for the USA.

• Insurance is available for foreign machines and foreign licence holders (not all US companies will insure you without a US licence) through Progressive.com - one of the largest insurance agents in the US. You can pay monthly (but you will need a US bank account for direct debits, see below) and you can cancel your policy at any time.

Vehicles in the US are insured on the VIN number, so your (foreign) registration number is irrelevent. Easy to apply on line with Progressive, although it may be easier to deal over the phone as your VIN may not show up on their computers, and especially if it is not a model available in the US (like the Tenere for example). You can also apply for your insurance before you go, and set the start date of the policy for when you get there. However, you can always do it once you arrive as cover is instant.

NOTE. you will need a postal address in the US to get insurance with Progressive (or any other I imagine).

• You do need to carry your insurance certificate and a copy of your V5 registration/ownership document (best to have the original too) with you at all times on the bike.

OK, that is pretty much it as far as paperwork/shipping is concerned... other info you might find useful:

• Helmets are required in most States (and you will almost certainly get pulled on a foreign machine without a helmet, even in those States were it is legal). Also, most States don't allow you to 'split lanes' (ie filter between traffic), although it is allowed (and often necessary!) in California.

• Speed limits are typically 25/45/55/65 mph (compared to our 30/40/60/70), there are no gatso's (that I've ever seen), but be aware that roadside patrols have radar guns.

• Fuel is (now) around $3.50 a gallon - yep, still less than £2! Petrol pumps in chain gas-stations are all debit/credit card pay-at-pump type, although you can pre-pay inside with cash (a bit tedious with a bike, especially as you are bound to pay more than you actually get in the tank!). More rural gas stations still have attendants, and typically prefer cash.

UK debit cards don't seem to work in petrol pumps (they don't recognise the PIN number), but credit cards tend to as they don't use the PIN function.

• However, you can easily open a bank account (for a debit card) as a non-resident at Wells Fargo for example, but like insurance, you'll need a US postal address.

Otherwise the country runs on plastic (even for purchases of a couple of dollars) and your UK cards should work in ATM machines with no problem if you need cash. But remember that most UK card issuers charge a fee for foreign transactions, so it's probably worth getting your own US account if you're staying for a while.

So, what are you waiting for?!


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Old 9 Oct 2008
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As told you need vary little. your licence to rid a bike and cash is all you realy need. To save you some money I will let you in on something Bikes in the USA are cheap I mean dam cheap. For the price now of flying your bike to and from the USA. You may well be better off bying a bike in the USA riding it around and selling it off many have. Some have even a profit importing ther new bike back home and selling it there. Now the profit may not pay for the trip but it may well be something to think about.

Stuf in the USA is many times cheaper and not neer as badley taxed as you have it. Id use that to your advantage and get most of your kit here a bag on the back and some toss over saddle bags will get you there and back agen.
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Old 27 Oct 2008
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I brought my South African Regestered Bike into the USA using a Carnet. There were no extra cost other than a 3rd party insurance ($110 for 59 days).
We used the Carnet everytime we cross borders with Canada, no problems at all

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Old 28 Oct 2008
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Originally Posted by jc View Post
I brought my South African Regestered Bike into the USA using a Carnet. There were no extra cost other than a 3rd party insurance ($110 for 59 days).
We used the Carnet everytime we cross borders with Canada, no problems at all

Great that a Carnet worked for you on US entry & cross US-Canada border, but you did not NEED--legally--a Carnet to import your ZA registered bike (or any other registry) into the USA, or into Canada. US & Canada Customs "recognize"/ understand a Carnet, but do NOT "require" it, as long as you have proper (home country) bike registration, vehicle insurance, etc.
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Old 30 Oct 2008
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I know you do not need it, but I had it so I used it, and it made my entry straight forward with no extra costs.
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Old 30 Oct 2008
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Check out a map overview where it compares North America to Europe. Lots of people don't realize how big the US and Canada are and underestimate traveling time.

I'm in California and you can use my address if you'd like.

Not Ted Simon since 1970!
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Old 16 Nov 2008
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I am 125 miles west of New York City if you need help on this side of the country. I have hosted many riders and currently have an Argentine and US registered Aussie bike in my garage if you are thinking of storage.

Insurance: Progressive and Dairyland have been used by nonresidents without incident. There is a broker in Florida that offers insurance, Overseas Visitors you can cancel anytime and may wish to pay for a 30-60 days at a time. Others have had luck with competative companies.

Bank Accounts : I asked at my bank they require you to be there in person with your passport and allow 7 days to get things sorted and activated. You can always tour the northeast and return if need be.

Gas Cards and PIN numbers : If you can get a US Visa or Mastercard or even a Discover Card it would make things easier. Even some of my Canadian friends can't use their cards because the US Gas Pumps do not recognize their PIN numbers. I used a Discover Card across the US last summer.

Shipping : Information already provided. However it maybe cheaper to ship to Montreal or Toronto. Also for some reason my Irish friend was held up for 7 days in New York City waiting for his bike. Also he came out of the parking lot and had to learn to drive on the right side of the road in awful traffic. BTW I have a friend who hosts motorcyclist in NYC but we will need a know in advance of your arrival since he travels also. His place is right on Broadway.

USA : Yes it is very big and one can even take their time and enjoy the back roads coast to coast. It took me 8 days of back roads to get to California from Pennsylvania. You want to stay way from the highways for scenic travel. Bring a tent camping is cheaper and plentiful. Adv Rider is a great help in the US and if you own a BMW join BMW Motorcycle Owners of America

US Address : Mine is available and has been used by many a traveler. However if you plan to use my address and purchase a bike in Pennsylvania you will need a Pennsylvania Drivers License since it appears you are a resident here. If you buy outside of Pennsylvania you can use the address but maybe required to show different forms of ID based on points. For example you need 6 points for New York State, a passport is worth 4 and a photo ID is worth 2 points so you pass. In Florida and California you just show any ID buy a bike using my address and you are good to go.

The future according to the people that monger fear is the day is coming when your address, drivers license, insurance papers will have to match and if you purchase an out of state bike you have 30 days to get it registered where you live. This helps the US to sort out illegal aliens and stop part year residents in different states from having two or more addresses. I asked about foreign visitors and the day is coming when it will be too complicated to buy in the US without being a resident. I know its a pain in the ass and it is coming in 1 to 5 to 10 years depending how cooperative all 50 States are and since most are broke the federal government may just hold highway money from them to force them to comply. So much for freedom and the country that opened its self to the world to come here. Wait till we all have to have a national drivers license and or ID card.
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