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Old 03-27-2016, 06:40 AM   #1

Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Ca
Motorcycles: 1972 Kawasaki H2, 1990 FZR400,90 RGV VJ22 L
My grey market Ca title nightmare

My title story,

I searched for years here in Ca. for a titled RGV250 VJ22 with no luck. I then read that once a grey market vehicle turns 25 years old it could be title in Ca. even though it was never sold here and doesn't have the federal compliance sticker. I called Ca title compliance office and they told me that yes I could title grey a market motorcycle if it was 25 years old. There was a 90 RGV VJ22 L on ebay at the time with no title and cheap. I called title compliance a second time to confirm that is would be possible to title a 25 year old grey market bike. Same answer, yes I could. So I bought the bike with my fingers crossed and the fun began. First stop was the CHP so they could check and run the vin, no problem, not stolen but no record. Also they wrote down that there was no Federal Compliance sticker. Second stop was my local DMV. With an appointment and 4 1/2 hours later I left with a 3 month temp registration and was told all the paperwork was sent to Sacramento title Compliance so they could figure it out. After about a month I got a letter from them stating that if I got a letter from Suzuki stating that the bike met 1990 US and Ca. standards and bought a bond I could title the bike. So I called them and asked why do I need a letter
from Suzuki since your office told me on two different phone calls once the bike is 25 years old it's not a problem.

So I called Suzuki and was told sorry, no information avaliable. Called title compliance several more times and sent 3 letters stating all the facts. Five months later I get a letter from them told to remove the bike from the state, and if I sell it, it can't be a Ca. buyer. Gave up at that point and sent Vermont dmv there application for registration and 3 weeks later got the Vermont plate. So now I have a restored RGV but can't legally ride it, great.

I moved here from NH. way back in 1988, Ca was a decent place to live back then. Making my exit plan now, and Vermont is one of the states
I looking into moving to. :thumbsup:
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Old 03-27-2016, 06:46 AM   #2
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Old 03-27-2016, 06:55 AM   #3
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Not that it helps, but my friend recently imported a 1985 Land Rover defender from England. Carbed motor and no emissions stuff on it. He has a temporary tag and waiting for CA. Title. He's done it once before. Hope it works again. The 25 year old exemption is what he explained to me also. Maybe when you get the Vermont plate you can try again, or have a custom frame built and register as special construction.
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Old 03-27-2016, 11:35 AM   #4

Join Date: Nov 2012
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Motorcycles: 1972 Kawasaki H2, 1990 FZR400,90 RGV VJ22 L
I got the bike plated in Vermont last August. The stopping point with trying to transfer the Vermont Reg to a Ca. title is the CHP inspection with no federal
compliance decal. I have a 17 digit frame I could use but would have to try
the special construction route. I'm so tired of the Ca. crap here I just prefer
moving to a state that plays by the federal rules. It took me a year and a half
to title a 72 H2 thanks to a issue they had with a Oregon lein.
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Old 03-28-2016, 12:49 PM   #5
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Kind of related story. I bought an VFR400 NC30 and I registered it as an off road bike to get a pink. Got a green sticker and the whole thing. Well, my wife bought it off me and she went to the DMV, got a brake and light check and Viola! Got a new pink and a plate, no problem. Still trying to figure out how that worked. This was about 10 years ago so things may have changed.
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Old 03-28-2016, 05:00 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Maddevill View Post
Kind of related story. I bought an VFR400 NC30 and I registered it as an off road bike to get a pink. Got a green sticker and the whole thing. Well, my wife bought it off me and she went to the DMV, got a brake and light check and Viola! Got a new pink and a plate, no problem. Still trying to figure out how that worked. This was about 10 years ago so things may have changed.
I've learned that it really depends on what DMV you go to and who you get to help you.
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Old 04-18-2016, 04:11 PM   #7
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Bottom line is that the 25 year import exemption under federal regulations (NHTSA & EPA) does not apply to CA. CA operates under CARB (or ARB as they now like to be referred to) and CARB prohibits the importation of nonconforming vehicles newer than 1967. 1967 or older are exempt from testing/import requirements.

The information is all available on the CARB's website.

Never believe what someone told you, get the written regulations and understand them before trying to import/title/register out of state, or grey market vehicles. CARB and DMV like to make life difficult for enthusiasts.
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Old 04-18-2016, 04:17 PM   #8
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do all counties follow ARB? I know up here in Tuolumne county we don't resmog again once we pass the initial sale smog, etc. I know that the restrictions are tighter in the bay area vs up here, even for gas being sold, we get a diff blend vs the bay area
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Old 04-18-2016, 05:52 PM   #9
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If you live in CA ARB regulations apply. ARB regulates air quality standards statewide. Whether your county is subject to periodic in-use emissions testing is irrelevant. Sacramento will not process registration on a direct import vehicle that does not comply with ARB regulations.
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Old 12-22-2016, 12:31 AM   #10

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its only a 250

Dam i didnt know about the 2 stroke cleansing,CA has some BS going to get a wrecked gps cut off and re weld vin on front fork housing.the whole thing,,if i get harrased about engine not being a 4 stroke just tellthem u changed it .doing this is not illegal.Your bike and currently there is no laws on engine swapping due to no smog law on motorcycles.never go to chp and dmv unless they make you .dont tell on yourself.............This i havent done but im going to,the price is still cheaper when compared to the red does this sound to everyone.remember pointing out all the things that mite be illegal is too easy ,looking at the plus side and make it happen is what s up.
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Old 12-22-2016, 09:29 AM   #11
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when the ZRX1100 came out, I just had to have one. So got lucky & found one NV rider who had just moved here & licenced his here. It had 7531 miles on it, so according to the DMV inspector, it was a "used bike" so no problem registering it here. Hmmm....

Also, a bud who lives here but has family in NV just registers his non-CA bike each year in NV so it's not only cheap, but also not a problem. Maybe get friend or PO box in NV? Hmmm...

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Old 12-22-2016, 11:59 AM   #12
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Rule #1. Get a right of return if you can't register and title the bike in Ca. Mae it short, say 5 days and offer a return payment enough to make it worthwhile.

Failing that, get your ducks in a row, take all the docs and stuff to the DMV and ask for an opinion (in writing) that if all the info is correct that you can register and title it. Yes, they will do it if you ask the right way.

Yeah, it can depend on the DMW office you visit but just as important who there you talk to but you can be successful if you do things right.

The people at the DMW don't want to give you a hard time, deny your registration, licensing or title process, they don't get a bonus for the number of motorcycle riders denied registration or title. They are people just like you and a lot of them ride too. You'd be surprised at how many of the women working there have husbands or boyfriends that ride. They get it.

The people there spend all day listening to asshats who have every excuse under the sun for not complying with the laws and trying to get around the process. The laws and regulations are published, read them before you buy a out of state bike or grey market bike and understand the risks. Remember, what people say on the telephone doesn't matter. If you know the bike you're going to buy, have the buyer send you the VIN and Engine# and pictures of any stickers related to emissions and sound. If the seller doesn't want to play ball, pass, they made more and another will always show up, always.

When you're at the DMV, walk in with a smile on your face. Dig deep and be courteous and gracious to the people working there including the security guard, they know everyone working there and can help get through to the right person. It works. If you go in like a human being instead of a walking complaint whining about how the government screws everyone, your rights, the taxes you pay and squawking about civil servants you'll often get great service.

Many of the people working at the DMV ride or have spouses or partners who ride, they get it. Insist on getting drawn into conversations with morons who think the DMV is the place to rant and make political statements then you are screwed before you get to the counter.

Start out with something like "Good morning, how is it going for you so far?" The smile on your face should be genuine and then you explain exactly what you are trying to do.

Don't shove a wad of forms and papers at them. Have any paperwork in order and the forms all filled out. Have your DR LIC out and ready. Do Not play with dates. If you think you are cute and try to evade fees and penalties by listing dates that are not correct you are breaking the law and your world can get complicated when your registration happens to be the one to get audited. Don't do it.

Make an appointment. Complaining about a 4 hour wait is dumb when you can make an appointment.

If you get to the counter and are told you have to get some other paperwork or an inspection from the CHP, have the person helping you date and time stamp the forms so that if you exceed the time constraints that you don't end up paying penalties and extra fees They will do it and even offer if you don't ask provided you aren't #102 of 500 complaining that day. If you are denied or told you have to do something else, it isn't their fault-IT IS YOUR FAULT so smile, thank them for the info and go do what you should have done before walking in.

At the CHP:. Get a clue, the person inspecting your bike is a sworn peace officer. They took an oath to uphold the laws, not let you break the law because you know, you ride. Don't get into small talk with the other people waiting and start the complaining grind. You are probably on video so acting and talking like a fool is foolish.

Don't ask the inspector how you can break the law either. Think about what you're trying to do. That said, there is nothing wrong with asking for some advice and oftentimes you will get it. Don't be the one to cry about your last ticket, you probably deserved twice as much, you just got caught this time.

The inspector at the CHP (remember, a sworn peace officer) has probably heard it all just like those at the DMV. Do not complain about the DMV to the CHP, lots of them have wives or family working at the DMV, got it? The inspector isn't a noob either. Often, they do this as just one of their many items listed in their duty statements and often they have as many years in service as you've been alive or riding. Like the DMV, they don't get bonuses for not letting you pass inspection. Their job is to uphold the laws of the state, it's not an option. Yeah, you can get a break on certain minor things but demanding it and then complaining when you don't get it means purgatory for your bike. While at the CHP is not the time to brag either. Telling the inspector you "had it up to 145 on Old Redwood Highway" is not going to go over well.

Make sure your speedo works. Current mileage will be checked. There is always someone who gets caught.

Before you buy an out of state or grey market bike:

1. Have the seller send you the VIN and Engine #s.
2. Have the seller take pics of any stickers on the bike no matter how inconsequential you think it is. Sometimes the emissions sticker is in an oddball place, make sure they look. Often the stickers are hidden behind plastics, make sure they look.
3. Research the EXACT model and brand of bike and gather up all the info you can.
4. Manufacturers are very lacking when it comes to record keeping. They might even have the wrong engine# listed for your VIN or your engine might be a different number than what was supposed to be in the bike. It happens more than you think.
5. Run your own stolen VIN and Engine# checks, there are plenty of places to get this done.
6. Send a letter to the DMV or Transportation Agency where you are buying the bike and ask them for a vehicle history IN WRITING. They will do it. In your letter ask them if the bike was ever reported to be in an accident, stolen, or if it had a registration gap. They will tell you.
7. CarFax and the other services are junk, waste of your money, do #6 above instead.
8. Ask the manufacturer if all recalls have been done. They will tell you. Many recalls were emissions related or affected them.
9. Do Not think you are smart and print your own emission sticker because if you get caught and most likely will, you are in deep doo-doo.

and #10. Don't buy the out of state bike or grey market bike and then think you are smart and saving a hassle or money by riding around on the old registration and plates. All that does is postpone the pain and if you meet up with the one that had a bad day, you become the example. You will sit there calling for a ride while your bike gets loaded on a flatbed.

Registering an out of state or grey market bike is possible and it can be painless if you do it right.

Last thing. Before you go down the road, don't sit on forums telling the whole world you are going to break some laws to finagle a title and registration. That just makes you out to be a clown and the laughs only get louder when you tell the story of having to sell that fantastic bike you bought because you thought you are exempt from the laws and regulations. We might not like laws and regs that we think negatively impact our riding but they exist so until they are changed, do the right thing.

The DMV and CHP are there to help you and they will. Go at it badly and you'll be the one selling that $5000 bike for $1000 because everyone will know you have no choice.

OP: If you got a letter demanding you remove the bike from the state you should consider it in your best interests to:

1. Appeal the decision formally, not by a phone call. Get an acknowledgement of the appeal and make sure you ask that you not be required to remove the bike from CA until the appeal is heard.
2. Remove the bike from the state.
3. Do not ride it on the street.

Yeah, you can get an out of state registration, title and plates. Then all you do is ride around wondering if this is the day you get popped. Then read up on your insurance. You will probably have to lie to get insurance because they ask where the bike will be titled, stored and registered and then when you need it, the day of reckoning might come around. There is a disclaimer that if you provide false information to obtain insurance any claims you make can be denied.
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Old 12-22-2016, 01:18 PM   #13
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That was fantastic. Great info.
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Old 12-30-2016, 02:41 PM   #14
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Following up on using a different DMV office idea, and that employees are just regular people, I've had that exact experience. I bought a bike a while back that passed through several hands before me and title wasn't transferred properly.

I went to San Jose DMV with my paperwork and they tossed it back at me saying I need signatures from the 2nd & 3rd previous-owners back before me. Well golly, not going to be easy to track them down.

So I went to Los Gatos DMV next. They were much nicer and even offered me coffee! They looked at my paperwork and said I need to fill out forms Blah, Blah-blah and Yahoo! Then they proceeded to print out those forms and filled it out themselves! I just signed at bottom, they fed it into their system and more forms ABC and XYZ were needed. Which they printed out and filled in for me. I signed, they entered into system and blammo! I had my bike registered and title-transferred with minimal problems.

Last edited by Jac Ryann; 12-30-2016 at 02:43 PM..
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Old 03-29-2017, 09:03 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by wilit View Post
I've learned that it really depends on what DMV you go to and who you get to help you.
Totally this. I registered a boat once that they never should have papered, lol.
That's not true! The lie is actually the truth! I know. Lots of people know this.
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