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Thread: Importing BMW Bikes to USA

  1. #1
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    Cool Importing BMW Bikes to USA

    I am trying to find out what, if any, issues there are with importing my BMW (2011 1200GS) purchased in Chile to the USA. My concern is whether there are any issues regarding emissions that could become a problem getting a DMV registration. As far as I know the BMW bikes from a safety and emissions perspective are manufactured to the same standards the world over and there should not be any issue with the DMV from those perspectives. Does anyone have any info on that or can point me in the right direction.

    thanks so much -- Sepp

  2. #2
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    Sepp,

    The rules are stacked against you to import a private motor vehicle to the US for registration here (as opposed to a temporary entry for tourism or diplomatic use, for instance).

    If less than 25 years old, the bike must meet EPA (emissions) and DOT (other safety) specifications. Only two methods are allowed to do so: a) certification by the manufacturer that the bike meets these specifications, and b) conversion by an authorized converter business here in the US.

    To protect its distribution entities (such as BMWNA), BMW will not provide this certification to you or the government, even if the machine in question were, in fact, built to USA-compliant standards. To convert an existing machine can be done, but it will cost significant money - figures tossed around on the net suggest in the middle four figures.

    It's easier to find a good bike here and buy it. Do a little net searching on importation and you'll learn more.
    David Brick
    Santa Cruz CA
    2007 R1200R

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    David

    thanks for the info. I was affraid I may run into issues lilke that. its a shame that BMWNA is likely not going to help with issues like this. The bike is just 2 years old and in tip top shape. But you maybe right -- it may just be easier to sell here and get an other one back home.

    Sepp

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    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    There is ZERO call to bash BMW for any of this.

    The requirements are Federal requirements and are not secret.

    Meeting the requirements in cases like this is certified by the government, NOT BMW. ALL the parts are available.
    Kent Christensen
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    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

  5. #5
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    Meeting the requirements in cases like this is certified by the government, NOT BMW. ALL the parts are available.
    It's not that simple.

    All the government does is review documents - it tests and certifies nothing. Parts are available, but that availability is irrelevant given that the only two methods of compliance are presentation of a certificate of compliance issued by the manufacturer (which BMW AG won't issue) or conversion and certification by a business that's licensed by the Feds to do this work (which will cost the owner a bunch).
    David Brick
    Santa Cruz CA
    2007 R1200R

  6. #6
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    So is there any automotive manufacturer in the world that will do this?
    Kent Christensen
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    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    So is there any automotive manufacturer in the world that will do this?
    I don't know. But a company that builds cars to the US standard probably already imports them, and issuing certifications would therefore be subject to the same but-we'd-lose-sales argument faced by BMW.
    Last edited by dbrick; 02-08-2013 at 01:35 AM.
    David Brick
    Santa Cruz CA
    2007 R1200R

  8. #8
    Still plays with trains. tinytrains's Avatar
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    I don't think it is to protect sales as much as simple cost. To figure out which non-US models meet US standards, prepare the documentation, sign the papers under penalty of perjury, and deal with the US and State governments would be a very large task. The only thing BMW gets in return more liability. It is strictly business.
    1988 K75 Low Seat
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    Registered User lkraus's Avatar
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    The certifications I've seen say the vehicle meets emission standards applicable on the production date, at which point the vehicle has always been under their control. By the time the vehicle is sold in another country and imported, the manufacturer would be issuing a certification on a used vehicle, which might have been modified after it left the factory. It's not worth their time or expense to inspect and verify the condition of the vehicle, which is why there are independent companies who perform that task, and charge accordingly.
    Larry
    2006 R1200RT

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    Registered User 119240's Avatar
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    I have friends in Canada & their telling me that Canada had dropped all duty / taxes on USA bike to Canada
    '91 K75S, '06 K1200S
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  11. #11
    Registered User Paladinwest's Avatar
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    No duties if the vehicle is manufactured in the US (NAFTA) but you still pay the taxes. The amount of the tax depends on the Province of residence. For example in British Columbia it would be 12%. You also pay some inspection fees to determine that it meets Canadian Vehicle Standards. Then the Provincial Motor Vehicle Branch will require a safety inspection. If it is a BMW bike and it still has a warranty, BMW Canada may ask for some cash to transfer the warranty. The dealer may also have their hand out if you bring a US bike in for service (anywhere from nothing to a one time fee to bless the bike to a higher labour rate for the life of the bike). It is not a difficult process as long as you are prepared to follow all the rules and pay the appropriate fees.
    This is the short version, YMMV. You can see the beginning of the path here www.riv.ca
    2008 HP2 Sport 10,000, 2008 R1200GSA 90,000, 1990 R100GSPD 100,000, 1986 K100RS 152,000

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    So is there any automotive manufacturer in the world that will do this?
    No, there is not. I went through the same issue with a Mercedes Benz I brough to the U.S. from Germany about 25 years ago. In order to register it back then, I needed a certificate from Daimler Benz that the vehicle complied with the manufacturer's export standard for that model. They would not provide this document.

  13. #13
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    The vehicle would have to be modified to comply. This is not a service a USA distributor supplies. The liklihood of their certifying someone else's work seems slim. Frankly it's a dumb question to ask them.
    Kent Christensen
    21482
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

  14. #14
    Out There Somewhere bmwrider88's Avatar
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    I'd guess that any manufacturer's resistance to assisting with the importing of vehicles (even of their own make) is more a policy to protect their dealerships than anything else. IMO, this is completely legit.
    I cannot see, however, why it would be so expensive or prohibitive to import a vehicle, esp. if it meets DOT and emissions standards. OR of older, antique or collectible vehicles such as motorcycles, for that matter.
    Be The Change You Want To See In The World

  15. #15
    Day Dreaming ... happy wanderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    So is there any automotive manufacturer in the world that will do this?
    Yes there is. Pretty much ANY USA manufacturer will provide a letter of compliance or warranty recall document to a purchaser wishing to export a vehicle. For most US vehicles this information is public knowledge and can be found on the DOT site.

    I've imported and helped others to import 3 motorbikes and one car into Canada from the US in the last few years and I know for a fact that BMW NA has instituted a policy that forbids their dealers from issuing the necessary document for importing a vehicle into Canada from the US. This is not because the vehicles do not meet emissions standards. Not only do they meet Canadian standards, they exceed them.

    This is strictly a game of price fixing. In Canada we pay 15 to 20% MORE for new and used bikes than US prices. Same goes for parts and service. To enable price fixing they no longer allow US vendors to issue Warranty recall letters to Canadians. If you want one you can get one from a Canadian BMW dealer and for typing in a VIN number, selecting Warranty Recall option on the BMW system and pressing PRINT he will charge us CDN$500. On the US side the same procedure puts a warning comes up on the screen telling the dealer NOT to share this letter with consumers under penalty of fines from BMW.

    If this is not price fixing I don't know what is. Having a good relationship or a friend at a US dealer who will defy BMW policy is the only way around this BS. "Free trade"? Well, it ain't free at all as far as BMWNA is concerned.
    Last edited by Happy Wanderer; 02-11-2013 at 11:14 PM. Reason: spelling
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