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Importing a motorcycle to Germany

Importing a motorcycle to Germany from the US

Importing a motorcycle to Germany from the US is a relatively simple procedure, and with enough planning can end up being less expensive than purchasing an identical motorcycle in Germany.

The procedure can be broken down into the following steps:

  1. Getting the Bike to Germany
  2. Getting the Bike from port to home
  3. Inspection
  4. Registration

1. Getting the Bike to Germany

There are two main ways of doing this. The bike can be placed on a cargo ship and transported across the ocean. The advantage of this is price: As the owner, you can ride the bike to each port to save transportation costs. This method is slow however, and can take months.

Air shipments can also be done and are particularly convenient if you live near a major airport. They are considerably more expensive, but can usually get your bike to Germany in about a week.

Not many details are given for the first step, as there is a lot of variance on shipping methods and companies. Additionally, if you do use a handler, they will be able to tell you everything you need and to walk you through the process. For reference, the author of this document used http://www.shipmybike.com and although they were often difficult to reach for questions, everything was handled professionally and without problems.

2. Getting the Bike from the port to home

When the motorcycle arrives at the port, the first thing you will need to do is have it released by customs. If you are only going to have the bike in Germany for one year, then plan on returning it to the US, you do not need to pay any import taxes. Additionally, you can purchase your insurance directly from the customs office.

If the motorcycle will be staying in Germany permanently, you will have to pay import taxes (15%). The import tax is computed simply by taking 15% of what you tell the officials is the value of your bike, so it is important to remember the heavy depreciation suffered by used motor vehicles.

After paying this tax, you will now be able to take your motorcycle from the port. The easiest way to do this would be to move it to a trailer. However, driving it directly from port can also be done. This can be done legally using two methods:
  1. Using your US license plate
  2. Using a temporary German license plate
Before doing either of these, it is important to remember that your bike might not be in a rideable state, especially after air shipment.
  1. The tire pressure should be checked
  2. Air shipment requires a low or empty gasoline tank, you might need to bring additional gas with you
  3. Air shipment requires the battery be disconnected, bring the appropriate tools for reconnecting it.
1) Using your US License plateRiding out using your US License plate is legal; however, you are required to ride directly to the TÃœV for inspection and registration. It is only valid for travel from the port to the inspection, and insurance is still required.

2) Using a temporary German License Plate

In the vicinity of the registration offices (TÃœV) there are typically stores that specialize in the printing of license plates. These stores will often sell temporary license plates. These cost roughly 80 euros, are valid for 5 days, and include insurance. These allow you flexibility on choosing a registration time for your bike.

3. Inspection

A US model bike must be inspected by the TÃœV just like any other motor vehicle. However, there are a couple of options:

- If the Engine and exhaust system is identical to the EU model, the inspection can take place without special consideration. A certificate is required from the manufacturer saying that the models are identical. (Note: the author did not have such a certificate but they were able to perform the inspection anyway.)

- If the bike was owned previously in the US for over 6 months, the exhaust system is exempted from environmental requirements.

Aside from Engine and exhaust, the only other requirement of inspection is that the indicators and headlamps are EU certified. This can be seen by the small ECE logo that will appear on the headlamp and indicator exterior plastics. If this is not there (which is often the case), new exterior plastics displaying this symbol will have to be purchased from an EU dealer.

4. Registration

This process is rather long and complicated. The easiest way to accomplish this is to simply bring a folder with all official paperwork for your motorcycle (US title, insurance, etc). For each office you visit, give them this folder, let them take what they want, file any paperwork they give back, and ask which office to go to next. It will take roughly 3-4 hours, and requires visiting various TÃœV offices. After having the bike inspected, you will have the paperwork necessary for registration. Although long, this process is not terribly difficult. You will first have to exchange your US title for a German one. After this, you will then go to another office where you can receive your License plate papers, including number.

Note: you can request a custom plate, which is often done in order to get a number with fewer characters. Having fewer characters on your plate means you can get a smaller plate. It is also possible to get a license plate which is not valid during the winter, saving your insurance.

After receiving your license plate papers, you will leave the TÃœV to visit a License plate store; these are usually located directly outside the TÃœV offices. At this point, you will also require insurance for your bike.

As a last step, you take your license plate back to the TÃœV in order for it to be stamped as valid for use. You are now ready to ride.
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