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vollhardtc
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Joined: 03/14/2015
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Hello:

I recently had my R69S (built in 1965) restored in Munich, where I had it in storage since I moved to the US. I would like to bring it over now and more precisely to Florida. I never imported a motor byke before and would be very grateful for some tips about regulations and how to best go about this. Thanks!

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Darryl.Richman
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VBMWMO #6285
Surf City, USA (Santa Cruz, CA)
Joined: 10/27/2006
Posts: 2185
California

Importing an old bike into the US is not difficult; but getting it registered in your state maybe.

I brought a 1928 R52 into California from Germany in 2006. The bike was flown into San Francisco and I picked it up at the Air France cargo area. I had to clear the paperwork through the US Customs office and pay a nominal fee (I seem to recall it was $15), before the bike could be released to me. In particular, the German title (Fahrzeugbrief) had to be present.

Registering with California was much more difficult than that. I went to the local DMV and of course, because they had nobody there who spoke German, my documents (import paperwork and the Fahrzeugbrief and my bill of sale) went off to Sacramento and I got a temporary registration. I had a fight with Sacramento because they didn't like the fact that the bill of sale was a photocopy of the original paperwork I signed while I was in Germany, but after I was able to get the original, they relented. Note that they would not return the original German Fahrzeugbrief; I am glad I have a photocopy of it. California not only charges registration fees and such, but also collects a Use Tax that is equivalent to the state Sales Tax. If Florida does the same (my only other experience is with Washington state and they do it, too), you should be prepared to prove how much VAT you paid for the bike originally, or expect to pay your state's sales tax on the value of the bike.

Good luck!

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vollhardtc
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Importing a R 69 S

Thank you Darryl, very helpful.
Will check with the DMV in Fl. I have the orginal "Fahrzeugbrief" and a brandnew one since the byke had to be tested and therefore went through registration and approval by the "TUEV" in Germany.

Did you use a particular agency for the transport? I assume it had to go into a crate etc.

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Darryl.Richman
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Surf City, USA (Santa Cruz, CA)
Joined: 10/27/2006
Posts: 2185
Shipping Agent

Yes, I did use a particular agency. Contact Stefan Knopf (www.knopftours.com) in Heidelberg. He does a lot of bike shipping. Lots of Germans give him their Harleys in December and then fly to Daytona Beach at the end of February to putt around. Then they fly home and their bikes are back in Heidelberg in time for Spring in April. I have an R1100RS that I gave to Stefan and have been visiting it each summer ever since. And he flew my R52 to me.

All you have to do is give him your papers and the bike, he will get it flown to you or, if you can time it right, he can put it in one of his specially made racks and bring it over with all the Harleys.

Make sure your bike is clean. No dirt. The US is very picky about that! (And Canada even moreso!)

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caker
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VBMWMO #8161
Philadelphia area (NJ)
Joined: 11/12/2011
Posts: 124
I second the Stefan Knopf

I second the Stefan Knopf recommendation for exports out of continental Europe. I've used him for dozens of bikes, and he does a great job. He also runs a really quaint motorcycle-only resort, and also organizes adventure tours all over the world, and also does motorcycle storage where you can keep a bike in the EU year-round, and fly out, ride it, and then give it back to him for storage. He's a busy man.

For the past few bikes that I've imported, I've done the brokering with US Customs myself, in my case in Philadelphia, PA. For air-freight, typically it's:

  1. A visit to the air freight building to collect the paperwork.
  2. Take the paperwork they gave you, along with your bill of sale, and a filled-out EPA 3520-1 form - with code "E" for exempt.
  3. They do their Customs thing and stamp your paperwork
  4. Bring the paperwork back to the air-freight place and then they release the bike to you.

I've yet to pay a single dollar to US Customs. They getcha on the registration side for sales tax - although, in your situation, I wouldn't presume there to be any - since you already paid for it? Or perhaps you'll pay sales tax on the amount you paid when you bought it long ago...

My experiences with customs is a bit of a mixed bag. Stefan says, first there is God, then there is Customs. They can ruin your day, if you're not cordial and nice to them. My last visit they were refusing to allow me to self-broker, saying that I needed a bond, and an official broker, etc etc... I proved to them that this was not anywhere in the law or guidelines ON THEIR OWN WEBSITE, and they finally relented. They're just trying to cover their ass, I suppose.

Anyway - you can find someone stateside to broker it for you, if you want to pay an extra few hundred bucks.

Good luck!
-Chris

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