Importing a bike into USA,issues? - Speedzilla Motorcycle Message Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-17-2007, 07:14 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2003
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Importing a bike into USA,issues?

Can anyone let me know if there are issues regarding importing a used motorcycle into the US?
A friend of mine has a mint 998 Bostrom with the 136hp engine and some nice parts,silmotor pipes ,c/f hugger,some other nice parts...8000 miles. Number 78 of 155
I suggested to him that he might have more luck trying to sell it in the USA but I'm not sure if there are any particular problems you face.
Its all pretty straightforward for us to import to NZ.
He is only to happy to crate it up and help ship it if anyone is interested.

Email me for pics [email protected]
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-17-2007, 07:56 AM
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It's very difficult to import a non-USA spec bike into the USA. The easiest way is to disassemble the bike and import it as parts, then reassemble it once it is here.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-17-2007, 09:52 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Fog Duc
It's very difficult to import a non-USA spec bike into the USA. The easiest way is to disassemble the bike and import it as parts, then reassemble it once it is here.
That sounds as though it would make it difficult to get a registration.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-17-2007, 05:04 PM
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It depends what state you are in. It is almost impossible in California, other states are very easy.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-19-2007, 02:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Fog Duc
It's very difficult to import a non-USA spec bike into the USA. The easiest way is to disassemble the bike and import it as parts, then reassemble it once it is here.
I have a '95 BMW R100R Classic and couldn't bring it in to the USA. Bla bla bla ..... doesn't meet US-specs .... bla bla bla .... was the official line. I have a letter from BMW in Munich stating that there is no difference between the Euro-bikes and US-bikes of this model, except for the odometer (km/h vs mph) and the sealed-beam headlight. No differences in emissions / dB rating. But the VIN identifies it as a Euro-bike, therefore ...... So my bike is in storage, haven't seen it for 7 years

I have since bought a '95 BMW R100R Classic here in the US (one of only 70 imported) and found out that it is indeed identical to my Euro-bike back in The Netherlands. The disassemble, import parts, reassemble route is on the radar screen for when I take a trip "home"*


*Spring, TX feels more like home right now
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-20-2007, 01:59 AM
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A buddy of mine tried to think of ways to ride a not-for-street-use racebike on the street, legally. This may vary from state to state, but one option (seeing as how your sig lines indicates you have a couple bikes already) is to get a dealer license. Not so much for any desire to actually buy/sell bikes for a living. But rather for the opportunity to get a dealer plate. Then stick that onto the supposedly non-US-legal bike that you've imported to ride on the street. However, I don't know if US Customs would even let you pick up the bike from its port of entry.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-20-2007, 07:19 AM
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for all the work to relocate the bike to sell....the reality of what a 8000 mile 998 would sell for in the usa might be considered.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-20-2007, 08:24 AM
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It can't be that tough. I have looked into grey market cars and bikes several times over the years. I live in Nazi California when it comes to our DMV and people are importing non-US bikes and registering not street legal bikes plenty. For example, look around for Yamaha RZ500 or Suzuki RG500 Gammas. All 2-strokes have been banned for sale and importation in Cali and much of the US for a long time. RD400s ended in 1979, then the short-lived RZ350 in 84-85. After that, the cap was set to 50cc for 2-strokers. I see these 500cc 2 stroke beasts come up for sale fairly often and they are legally registered in Cali. Main reason I know is cause I want one to replace my 77 RD40 There is one currently mentioned in the classifieds here!

One of the "rumors" I have heard come up had to do with registering bikes _used_. I was told that folks were putting on a certain amount of miles on these Canadian bikes and bringing them in. Then they paid the out of state fees or whatever. The big diff here is no customs to deal with at the docks to scrutinize a shipment, right?

I have also seen some very trick race bikes modded slightly to have plates and tags. I saw a couple of wild TZ250s as well as some other track only bikes. Somebody must know how this is done.

As for cars it can be a spendy proposition to grey market. It is a 3 stage process involving US Customs, the DOT (Department of Transportation) and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). I would not be too surprised if the process is similar from the EPA perspective. On the customs side it is usually just throwing a bunch of money at it and hiring a knowledgeable customs representative to make sure you container gets in. For the DOT, you basically have to import 3 cars to get one. You have to show that the vessel passes crash test standards. Therefore, you get to craqsh 2 for the data, and keep the 3rd if all is good. This is the only place you can get an assist. There is a DOT list of crash worthiness and cars that the manufacturer has certified are equal to other cars that manufacturer has already imported. If it is ok by the mfg, and the DOT, you can bypass the crash testing (don't have link handy right now but I have perused it before). Then you get to play with the EPA. This is where things get not so fun. You have to make your vehicle smog compliant. This gets very expensive. There are firms that specialize in this and it is usually best to just pay them to do the mods.

Why mention this big auto dialog on a bike forum? Because there must be some similarities because people are pulling this off. Anybody with more info or data, I'm all ears.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-20-2007, 09:56 AM Thread Starter
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About 20 years ago ,a friend and I imported an RZ500 each into california,said we were riding them across country.I wound the speedo forward(minimum mileage requirement to register a used import or some such),went into DMV and was able to register them,all fairly straightforward,and get california plates.Rewound speedo back to original mileage,sold them through a shop and skedaddled.
I think my friend got a hard time some years later when he tried getting a visa to holiday in Hawaii.I myself have never returned to your fair land.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-20-2007, 04:23 PM
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Location: San Diego, California
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Importing Motorcycles from Overseas

So you've found this great motorcycle, for a great price, and you've been staying up nights trying to figure out how to get it into the U.S., title it, and register it for use on the street. You've even thought about taking it apart and shipping it in pieces.

Well, the employees of U.S. Customs, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and each State's Department of Motor Vehicles know all the tricks. Consequently, there are a complex series of challenges to the import of foreign motorcycles that you will first need to satisfy. There are further procedural and legal requirements for obtaining an ownership title and the registration for using it on the public roads.

That's why there are designated registered importers and independent commercial importers who are expert and who have demonstrated experience in navigating these requirements; it's (purposely made) very difficult for an individual to import a motorcycle that wasn't manufactured to comply with U.S. safety and environmental standards

There have been cases of individuals subverting the system, mostly through inexperienced federal and state employees who've made mistakes in applying the rules. You know, you've heard about or seen 2-strokes with license plates.

So, if you think you've got an original scheme to exploit a loophole, here's some suggested reading to start with. If you don't intend to follow the rules you risk losing your bike and being charged with a crime. Also bear in mind that, in most states, the definition of a stolen motorcycle is a bike being held by a person who is not in current possession of the title, or any motorcycle without a vehicle identification number (VIN).

Suggested Reading

U.S. Department of Customs & Border Protection (USCBP)

Duty Rates

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Vehicle Importation Regulations

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) Booklet
List of Registered Importers
How to Become a Registered Importer
Registered Importer Newsletters
Vehicle Eligibility List
Vehicle Importation Guidelines (Canadian)
Vehicle Importation Guidelines (Non-Canadian)
Temporary Vehicle Importation Guidelines
Temporary Importation of a Motor Vehicle under Box 7 of the HS7 Form
HS-7 Declaration Form
HS-474 Bond to Ensure Conformance with Motor Vehicle Safety and Bumper Standards
Show or Display: Importing a Vehicle for Show or Display Purposes.
Information for Racing: Importing a Vehicle for Racing Purposes.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Automotive Imports Facts Manual - provides comprehensive information on importing your vehicle

Quick Overview of Vehicle Imports Requirements - provides*a way to quickly identify the EPA requirements for many imported vehicles.

Canadian Vehicles Approved for Import - Canada has harmonized vehicle emission standards with the U.S. and many vehicles made for sale in Canada are eligible for import to the U.S.

Independent Commercial Importers (ICIs) - businesses authorized by EPA to import, modify and test vehicles*to demonstrate conformity with U.S. emission requirements. In order to become a designated ICI you must obtain*a certificate of conformity.

EPA Standard Form 3520-1- Declaration form*used to import vehicles into the U.S.*

U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)

DOT regulations are in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)

Requirements for lights, horns, reflectors, speedometers, noise attenuation etc.

State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)

Title Regulations and Procedures
Registration Regulations and Procedures
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-20-2007, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
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No,I'm not looking at importing it.I am just looking to help out a friend who has this ,thought that there must be a lot more guys in the US interested in this than here in little wee NZ.
Just wanted to know how difficult it would be and if anyone would consider it worth the trouble.

But thank you for taking the time to list all that info.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-20-2007, 05:57 PM
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When I relocated from Germany to NY, I wanted to take a ’73 350 Scrambler, a ’83 900 Hailwood Replica and a ’95 916 with me. US import rule states that vehicles have to conform to US regulations already at port of entry in order to be allowed into the country. There is a exception if the vehicles go to the premises of an registered importer who then has to modify them to conform with US requirements. For private importers, conformation has to be verified in writing by the manufacturer. For the older bikes Ducati Germany was zero help (no surprise here) and for the 916 they sent me along list of parts to be replaced (ECU, all lights, speedometer, etc..). At that point, I decided to sell the 916.

For the old ones, the mover in Germany refused to even put the bikes into the container without me having the unobtainable manufacturers letter of conformation. So I left them in Germany and started a second attempt from the US. Formal requirements actually depend on the model year. The oldest one would have required only a permanently attached DOT conformation label, the newer one an additional EPA muffler marking (try to find those on a pair of Contis…) and then some more. Nonetheless, a moving company here in NY told me they could do it and a while later the bikes showed up with paperwork stating that they conform. I registered the Hailwood replica in NY and did not even have to bring the bike for that. Moral of the story, once you have a bike in the US, nobody seems to care how it is equipped. Which is only fair given the status of some vehicles on the roads here…

I think the import of a 998s is not worth the effort, R-type cams or not. In general, prices in Europe are higher anyways since the manufacturers seem be afraid to acknowledge the weak dollar in the pricing of new vehicles (or they just rip the Europeans off). Look at 1098 pricing in the US vs. Europe as an example.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-20-2007, 06:16 PM Thread Starter
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ok you think he might be better off listing it in europe?Shipping there is no big deal,probably much the same cost.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-30-2016, 05:35 PM
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Whatever you do....Beware of two companies on the east coast of the USA. SkyTop Rover is a registered importer, RI in Philadelphia PA..and USSpecs is an ICI , Independent Commercial Importer near Baltimore Maryland. Please do not use or contract with either of these companies!! They will find any way to invoice you for thousands of dollars for doing nothing and then you will not be able to recover your car of motorcycle without retaining a lawyer and going through the legal process. They are a nightmare waiting for the unsuspecting victim. Do some searching on the will find multiple complaints and horror stories about these guys....BEWARE!!!
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