The True Cost of Importing a Motorcycle

| November 5, 2013

A popular type of courier motorbike in London,...

The import still has something of a mythical feel in the motorbike world. Usually imports are rare models that have often come from Asia or South America and most importers buy from overseas because they prefer the stock outside of the UK. If you’ve ever dreamed of an exotic bike that isn’t available here or, perhaps, are just tempted by the favourable pound-to-dollar exchange rates, here’s our guide to the true cost of importing a motorcycle…

Bike Cost

The first step is the easiest: what does your bike cost here versus what it costs, say, in the USA? You can figure this out by using an up-to-the-minute currency converter, but remember that this is probably the best deal you’ll get. In reality, converting currency usually requires an agent or, at least, a bank, who will charge you fees and quite possibly commission. Remember that exchange rates change significantly day-on-day, too.

Shipping Costs and Export Duty

Once you’ve assessed what you want to buy, the next step is getting it out of the target country. It’s quite possible to ship things privately but most dealers will offer you at least some form of inclusive shipping. On a motorcycle you should expect to pay over £100. Some countries will charge export duties, too, though this is becoming less common. Your dealer should help you to arrange payment this cost.

Shipping Insurance

On top of your shipping costs, you will almost certainly want to insure the shipping of your bike. If it’s damaged in transit, your insurance will pay out and, usually, you’ll be able to find a cheap quote. For most bikers, the additional £100 or so makes it a worthy purchase, even if you don’t have to claim.

UK Import Duty and VAT

This is where things get expensive. Motorcycles brought into the UK attract import duty at a rate of around 6%, though this varies based on engine size. You won’t pay duty from the EU but you may still need to pay VAT. UK VAT works out at 20% and, normally, you’ll be able to buy your bike at 0% VAT from the country of origin and then you’ll have to pay VAT when you receive it in the UK. This isn’t true for countries that don’t have tax agreements with the UK, though, so watch out.

Motorcycle Insurance and Licensing

Before your bike is road legal you’ll have to license it here in the UK. Usually dealers will wrap up these costs for you if you’re buying domestically, but that’s not true for imports. You’ll have to contact the DVLA yourself and go through the procedure. You might also find yourself paying a premium on your motorcycle insurance for an imported bike.

With all of these costs wrapped up, you could be looking at doubling your initially favourable bike cost! Unfortunately, it’s normally the case that if a bike can be imported cheaply, someone will have done it, so don’t get stung buying from abroad.

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