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Which Bike? Comments and Questions on what is the best bike for YOU, for YOUR trip. Note that we believe that ANY bike will do, so please remember that it's all down to PERSONAL OPINION. Technical Questions for all brands go in their own forum.
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Old 10 Feb 2010
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Location: Wells, Somerset
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Help with importing a bike from US to Europe?


I'm hoping I might be able to help someone out, with an import from USA to Europe somewhere.

I have imported a few vehicles from America to England, and so I have experience with buying abroad, shipping, import paperwork and tax, and registration in the UK.

I'm not trying to make money with this, just hoping I might be able to give someone a hand if they need it. I wouldn't want to be out of pocket, put it that way.

When I was planning for the RTW trip I am currently on, I researched bikes, and some of the ones I was interested in were not available in the UK.
So in the end I imported myself a Honda XR650L, and shipped it in to the UK, and got it registered.

I ended up paying more for this project than I could have. In fact I could have saved myself about $1000 if I had done it differently.

So if anyone else is in this position, and wants a bike from USA, maybe I can help.

I have a good relationship with a shipping company in the SF area, and can ship to a few European port at a very low price. UK is easiest for me, as I've done this a few times before.

I have been given so much help on this trip. People have been unbelievably kind and generous, and with this I hope I might be able to start repaying this overland Karma.
If this holds any interest for you, please contact me.
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Old 4 Mar 2010
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Baron, I would appreciate any advice you have to offer. I did once look at importing a bike from the US to UK but discounted it in the end on the grounds of import duty and VAT added. Customs & Exercise charged duty on the combined value of the bike and shipping adding another 30% to the bike cost making it prohibitively expensive. An important point is that I wanted to buy second hand and not new (and still would in the future). Any advice appreciated.

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Old 5 Mar 2010
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It's not actually quite as bad as it appears. First place to make a saving, is to buy a bike that's near the place you're going to ship from, and I would strongly advise using Aladdin Freight, in Oakland, near San Francisco.

Next, get a good deal on the bike in the first place. Were you thinking of doing the deal yourself, in person, in the States?
What bike are you looking for?

I have found that one of the best ways to find bikes, is by using a website called CraigLook. This searches every craigslist site in America, and you can search within certain distances of a specific place, and limit results by price etc.
website here:
Craiglook: Craigslist Search

Then make sure you declare the purchase as a 'sensible' value. This may or may not, correlate precisely with the price you paid.
Surprisingly you can print out a bill of sale yourself, and sign it as the buyer, and this is an acceptable document for import purposes.

As a guideline, I might suggest this: Search and search for the bike you're looking to buy, and make a note of the cheapest price you ever see for the year and model you're looking for. Say $3000 as an example.
Then create the 'Bill of Sale' document, and fill in a sale price of about 30% less.
In our example, $2200 or so.

Something I thought would work, would be to write the bill of sale, naming the bike as 'Non-runner, sold for spares or repair. Sold as seen, no warranty implied or given'
Maybe remove the CDI or something in case someone tries to start it.

Just a suggestion, I'm sure it would work.

Then the shipping cost is actually recorded as less. I'm sure that most companies class a big chunk of the costs as paperwork or admin or something, and that the remainder is used to calculate the import VAT etc.

Does this help?

I'm in San Francisco this summer, and can help with anything you need.
What are you looking for?
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Old 5 Mar 2010
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I was looking at importing a KZP1000 (think CHiPs) as a long distance tourer (not entirely suitable as low geared and have a small tank) but hey I like the look.

Cost of bike ws $4500, expensive as they generally they go for $2500-$3000 but this was top notch and exchange rate was in my favour. So I was ok to spend 3000UKP. Shipping was 1800UKP air 1400UKP sea, much more expensive then I anticipated but still a go at this stage.

But what really kicked it into touch for me was 17.5%VAT, 6% import duty and 2.5% deferment (what ever that is) on the combined bike value and shipping.

I was buying from a policeman so adjusting with the bike value was probably not an option. With the bike cost heading towards 6k I decided it was a no go at that stage.

Thanks for the advice.

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Old 5 Mar 2010
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So is this a project abandoned, or something you're still considering?
I'd say it could still be a goer.

Where is the bike? The shipping cost of $450 that Aladdin offer would save you about 1100 pounds. Some of that used for trucking to Oakland, but still likely to be a saving.

The seller would have nothing to do with the import/export. You just get the title for the bike, and it's yours. Then write a bill of sale, and that's good for import.

The thing that would make or break this I guess, would be the location of the bike. New York is also cheap shipping, so if it's close to NY or SF, then you're in luck.
Is the bike even still for sale?

Anyway, it's over to you now. Hopefully you have all the info you need if you want to do it. If I can help in anyway, I'd be more than happy to.
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Old 6 Mar 2010
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Its dead for the moment (the bike has gone), maybe to be resurrected a a furture date. Thanks for the information will keep it for future reference. The cost discrepancy between shipping prices was particulalry interesting.


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