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Old 10-28-2016, 10:20 AM   #1
karadragon
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Importing a bike from Canada to California

I'm moving to the Bay Area on a TN visa (temporary worker, likely 1-2 years contract). I have 2 bikes that are currently registered in Ontario, I'm reading this friendly pamphlet from the DMV https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/wcm/co...df?MOD=AJPERES and it says:

Quote:
California has special requirements for vehicles imported from other countries (including Canada and Mexico).
...
No motorcycle or diesel-powered vehicle can be converted to California emission standards.
Say what? The bikes are 2007 and 2009 year models, over 20K miles on the odometers. I'd hate to have to sell them and buy new ones in California, especially since my employer will cover shipping for all personal effects, but obviously will not buy me replacement bikes.

Can I get away with just not registering them in California? Seems like for under a year it would be ok, but what exactly would happen afterwards?
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Old 10-28-2016, 11:10 AM   #2
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Don't even try to register it here! Just keep it registered in Ontario. You're not going to be here long enough to make it worth the hassle.
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Old 10-28-2016, 11:32 AM   #3
karadragon
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Originally Posted by HeatXfer View Post
Don't even try to register it here! Just keep it registered in Ontario. You're not going to be here long enough to make it worth the hassle.
Would the cops realistically ever question me over Ontario plates and DL? My Ontario insurance is only valid if I'm physically in Ontario for at least 6 months of a year. Will a Cali insurance co have problems with my out of state plates and DL?
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Old 10-28-2016, 12:00 PM   #4
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Welcome to CA from another ex-pat (I also had plans to come to the states for 1-2 years on a TN, ask me sometime about how that turned into decades).

Here's a thread on advrider about the topic: http://advrider.com/index.php?thread...#post-19098615 and the OP on that thread decided to sell the bikes in Canada and buy a new one here. YMMV.

Technically, you are supposed to register your vehicle with the DMV within 20 days of establishing residency and I doubt a California insurer would issue you insurance if the vehicle is not registered in the state, but that may be worth a call -- is it possible your current Canadian insurer would issue you a policy?
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Old 10-28-2016, 12:12 PM   #5
karadragon
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The difference in my case is my bikes are old enough to not have to be considered taxable, so it might make sense in the end.

Do California insurance companies even care what plates are on the bike? In Ontario they just need a VIN and nothing else. They don't even care if you have plates at all.
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Old 10-28-2016, 01:17 PM   #6
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I think insurance companies here do ask for your plate number
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Old 10-29-2016, 08:40 AM   #7
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So I just checked and my insurance company only asks for the VIN. FYI
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Old 10-29-2016, 08:37 PM   #8
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Get a insurance quote online from progressive or geico... They only need the vin
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Old 10-29-2016, 08:49 PM   #9
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Also consider that the mere fact that they are Canadian does not mean that they do not meet California emission standards. Some (not all) motorcycles (& cars) had a 49-state spec and a California-spec. Others were the same regardless of where they were originally sold.

Example: I bought my car (used) in Nevada. It had less than the mystical 7500mi than many assert is the only requirement. Drove it to the CA DMV the next day. Lifted the hood, pointed out the 50-state EPA sticker, & got issued a CA title.

I've done the same with a motorcycle too (less than 7500mi). Do more research on the exact models that you want to bring in. Was there a comparable US model sold in California?

Also, as others have said, insurance does not require a US or Cali title. Your Visa status might also alleviate your concerns. It is not unusual to see automobiles driven in the US that are registered in other countries. You see a crapload of Mexican license plates in SoCal for example.
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Old 10-30-2016, 09:07 AM   #10
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Yup he's right. I know a chick riding around CA with Guam plates haha
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Old 11-01-2016, 12:39 PM   #11
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Just keep it registered in Ontario & keep your Canadian drivers license. It's honestly not worth the hassle. Get GEICO when you are here.

I moved from Canada (also Ontario) almost 7 years ago. I've used my Canadian license successfully in both Russia and USA. Since I don't plan on returning to Canada in the immediate future, I now have a California drivers license.

If you plan on going back to Canada, I don't see why you'd bother reregistering. And BTW the cops have no way of knowing if you rode from Canada today or if you were here for 10 years.
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Old 11-03-2016, 05:57 AM   #12
karadragon
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Originally Posted by mrzuzzo View Post
Just keep it registered in Ontario & keep your Canadian drivers license. It's honestly not worth the hassle. Get GEICO when you are here.

I moved from Canada (also Ontario) almost 7 years ago. I've used my Canadian license successfully in both Russia and USA. Since I don't plan on returning to Canada in the immediate future, I now have a California drivers license.

If you plan on going back to Canada, I don't see why you'd bother reregistering. And BTW the cops have no way of knowing if you rode from Canada today or if you were here for 10 years.
I suppose in the general sense it is true, and I know people frequently do the same up here in Ontario, too, except in this case it's not because it's hard to import the car here, it's because our insurance rates are higher than say, in Florida. One way people would figure out that I didn't just ride in yesterday is if I keep parking in the same spot day in and day out, taking the same general route to work, etc.

Then again, seems to me that even the worst case scenario if they figured it out and decided to enforce the regulations - it doesn't seem much worse than doing the official importation and registration in the first place, especially for vehicles that are low value.
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Old 12-22-2016, 01:02 PM   #13
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Paying for insurance and having coverage are two different things. Just because they take your money doesn't mean they have to payout on a claim if you need to make one.

The reason Geico asks for only a VIN is because they do everything electronically. Read their terms of providing coverage and you'll find out real quick about exclusions and so on. Everything is great, lots of stories get told and everyone laughs until the day comes and you get hit or whatever and then you find out your claim or the claim of the other driver is denied. Guess what happens next?

Friend of mine maintained his driver license and registration in Oregon. One day someone plows into him. Uninsured motorist. He files a claim. Sorry, denied. It went all the way to the Insurance commissioner or whatever they have up there. Nope. Try tobget something out of those driving around without insurance, no job and a POS car worth nothing.

If something goes wrong, see how many people telling you to circumvent the laws or regs come around and offer to pay for your stolen or plowed bike. I'm betting all you'll hear is " man, that really sucks".
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Old 12-22-2016, 01:11 PM   #14
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Everytime you cross the GG they know when the bike was in Ca. Not a big deal until a third party is involved.

How many of you would give a break to a car driver who plowed your bike and then had the claim denied because the insurance company said sorry? Woukd you give them a pass because they had a car brought in from Canada and didn't reg it properly and the insurance company used that to weasal? It happens.
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Last edited by Schnellbandit; 12-22-2016 at 01:37 PM..
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