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How to Ship a Motorcycle

Motorcycle Imports to the USA: Everything You Need to Know

Are you thinking of importing your motorcycle to the USA? If so, it can seem overwhelming trying to figure out what the international shipment process entails and where you should start. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Here, we will walk you through everything you need to know about importing your motorcycle into the USA. From details about the transport process itself to understanding the documentation and fees involved, we will cover it all.

Whether you’re a seasoned rider or a first-timer, this guide aims to make the process of importing your dream bike as smooth as possible.

Step-By-Step Guide to Importing Motorcycles into the USA

Here is a brief overview of the process of importing your motorcycle into the US:

1. Check Motorcycle Import Eligibility

Firstly, you will need to check whether your motorcycle is eligible to be shipped to the US. Your bike must meet the standards required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT).

EPA advises that anyone planning to import a motorcycle into the US obtains a certificate or letter from the manufacturer stating that their vehicle conforms to the relevant standards.

The specific requirements will differ depending on whether you are permanently importing or temporarily importing your bike (we will explain this in more detail below).

2. Choose a Shipping Partner

Find a reliable transport company that can guide you through the import process. A leading shipping company will be able to help you to understand all the relevant customs regulations.

You need to choose a shipping company that is conveniently located and ships to the US. You must also decide on a suitable port of entry and transport method.

3. Organize Your Paperwork

You can now begin to gather the necessary paperwork for the successful import of your motorbike. This will include the bill of sale, proof of ownership, and any additional documents specified by Customs.

4. Arrange Suitable Insurance Coverage

Make sure you have suitable insurance in place for your motorcycle import.

The cost for insurance will vary depending upon your location and the age and make of your bike.

Choose an insurance policy that provides comprehensive coverage for your motorcycle, both during the transport process and when it arrives in the US.

5. Pay Relevant Customs Duties and Fees

Once your motorcycle arrives in the US, it must clear Customs and Border Protection. You will need to pay any applicable duties and taxes associated with the import of your motorcycle.

If you are importing your motorcycle temporarily for your personal use, you may not have to pay any duty on it. Otherwise, you may be eligible to pay duty up to a rate of 2.4%, depending on your vehicle’s purchase price.

6. Register Your Motorcycle

Once all the required documentation has been completed and your vehicle has successfully passed its final inspections, you must register your bike with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office.

How to Ship a Motorcycle

What Shipping Methods Are Used to Import Motorcycles?

Motorcycles can be shipped to the USA using a variety of transport methods, including:

Container Shipping

Container shipping involves placing your motorcycle in an enclosed container, providing added security and protection from the elements.

While containerized shipping of motorcycles ensures a higher level of vehicle safety, it often comes with a higher cost compared to other shipment methods.

Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) Shipping

RoRo shipping is a simpler process where your motorcycle is driven onto the ship’s deck and secured.

RoRo shipping is generally more cost-effective but exposes the bike to the elements during transit.

Permanently Import Motorcycles into the USA

To permanently import a motorcycle into the US, you must be a US citizen, a US business, or hold legal status to work and live in the country.

Motorcycles originally manufactured for sale in the US will be easy to ship, as they will already meet US standards. In contrast, motorcycles manufactured outside the US may require modification before being imported.

Temporarily Import a Motorcycle to the USA

Temporary imports apply to motorcycles that will remain in the US for 12 months or less. Motorcycles entering the country on government or military orders are also eligible for temporary import.

If you are importing your bike on a temporary basis, it does not need to meet EPA or DOT standards. When temporarily imported under diplomatic or government orders, your bike must leave the country after one year; you will not be able to leave it or sell it.

To temporarily import a motorcycle into the US, you must not be a US citizen or resident and must be importing your bike for your own personal use. For temporary motorcycle imports, be aware that you must seek prior written approval from the EPA.

Importing Classic Motorcycles to the US

If you are a motorcycle enthusiast, you may be thinking about importing your classic bike from Australia, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, or any country around the world into the US. Whether it’s a vintage Harley-Davidson or a classic Honda, the process for imports involves careful consideration.

The good news is that if your classic motorcycle is 25 years or older, it will be exempt from meeting certain EPA and DOT standards.

Importing Japanese Motorcycles

Japan’s legendary motorcycle giants – Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha – ignite a desire for their sleek designs, unparalleled reliability, and fuel efficiency all around the world.

But before you think about importing your Japanese dream machine directly onto American roads, here’s what you need to know:

  • Do your research and find out about the safety and environmental compliance requirements of imported Japanese motorcycles.
  • Partner with an experienced Customs Broker to help you navigate the importation process.
  • Use the services of a reliable international shipping company to transport your vehicle safely from Japan to the US via ocean or air freight.

How Much Does it Cost To Import Motorcycles into the US?

The cost of importing a motorcycle into the US can vary based on several factors, including:

  • The specifications of your vehicle, for example, if you are importing a moped or scooter, this will be significantly less expensive than importing classic motorcycles
  • Any modifications that are required to ensure your vehicle meets EPA and DOT standards will increase costs
  • The costs of any relevant customs duties and fees
  • Your vehicle’s final destination
  • Your chosen transport method
  • Shipping prices can also fluctuate based on the season and any inclement weather conditions

While the initial cost of importing a motorcycle into the US may seem expensive, it can often be a more cost-effective option compared to purchasing domestically.

How Long Will It Take to Import a Motorcycle into the USA?

The time it takes to import a motorcycle into the USA can also vary depending on:

  • The motorcycle’s country of origin and destination
  • Chosen transport method
  • Customs clearances

Typically, it will take somewhere between a few days and several weeks for your motorcycle to arrive at its port of entry in the USA. Once it arrives, the customs clearance process can take a few days, up to a week or more.

If your motorcycle does not conform with US safety and emissions standards and requires essential modifications, this will delay the importation process.

Overall, the timeline for importing a motorcycle into the USA can be unpredictable, so it’s important to plan ahead and be prepared for potential delays.

What Documentation is Needed For Motorcycle Imports?

When importing your motorcycle into the US, you will need to have the appropriate documentation in order, including:

  • Notarized bill of sale
  • The Bill of Lading (BoL)
  • US Title
  • Foreign Registration
  • An EPA form 3520-1
  • A DOT form HS-7
  • An Importer Security Filing (ISF) (for ocean shipments)

Importing Your Dream Motorcycle with CFR Classic

Are you ready to import your dream motorcycle into the US?

Trust CFR Classic’s motorcycle shipping services to assist you through the entire process.

Partner with us, and we will help you to seamlessly ship your trusted motorcycle into the US. We will also handle all of the necessary paperwork and Customs clearance, ensuring your motorcycle import arrives smoothly without any delays.

We are able to transport vehicles for owners, dealerships, and private sellers via our reliable RoRo and containerized transport services.

Contact CFR Classic Today

With an average of 1,500 vehicles shipped every month, CFR Classic is the proven choice for worry-free motorcycle transportation.

Contact CFR Classic for a free quote today!

Joey has spent his entire teen and adult life in cars. Joey's father owned a Jeep store, and Joey had his own used car lot that he ran himself from age 22 until I was 30. At 30 years old, Joey got "out of" the car business and joined CFR Rinkens. Joey started when there were only 9 people at CFR, but the company grew to over 150 employees during his time there. When Joey started, CFR Rinkens was shipping about 40 vehicles per week from Los Angeles. Joey established locations in Houston, Miami, and New York and within the first year, CFR went to shipping 150 cars per week. Joey started as a customer service rep and later moved up to sales manager, operations manager, and marketing manager. Joey then moved to Europe for two years and spent the entire time traveling through Europe meeting with clients. In 2022, Joey and his partners purchased CFR Classic from CFR Rinkens and he returned to California to watch over the operation more closely.

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