Easy Rider - Buying a motorcycle as a tourist
January 14, 2010 11:21 PM   Subscribe

I'm travelling to the U.S in August to stay with my sister and her American husband. I'd like to buy a motorcycle to tour the country (and eventually head down through Mexico). What are my options?

a) Can I buy and register a motorcycle as a tourist?
b) Can I have my sister or her husband buy and register on my behalf?

What sort of costs are involved in purchasing a motorcycle in TX (registration, insurance etc)?

I'm licensed to ride via an International Driver's Permit.
posted by frggr to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total)
You will need a residence to register your motorcycle. As a tourist you will not establish residence. Your sister will need to "own" the motorcycle.

I'm licensed to ride via an International Driver's Permit.

Not quite, you are licensed to drive in your home country, the international license is just a different way to say that. You will need to check with the states you intend to visit on their motorcycle licensure laws. Each state has different laws and requirements.

Last, you will need to get Mexican insurance to drive in Mexico and American insurance to drive in the USA.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:32 AM on January 15, 2010

Vehicle sales tax in Texas is 6.25%. You must have current proof of insurance on a motor vehicle to register it in this state. Current fees for registration vary based on the county, but county-level fees are usually $10, plus $30.30 to the state. In addition, you must have a motor vehicle inspection prior to registering it. The inspection fee for a motorcycle is $14.50 (payable whether it passes or fails, but with a free retest if it fails) since that type of vehicle does not have to pass an emissions test. Insurance varies in cost depending on driving record, but runs about $300-400 per year. It generally requires a motorcycle permit and a state-issued license.

Yes, your sister or her husband can own the vehicle and register it in either of their names (or both, as the mood strikes). You shouldn't try to register the vehicle in your name because you will have to meet all the requirements of a state resident, which is inconvenient for a short-term resident. Before you leave, make sure your vehicle coverage from your home will cover you in the United States and Mexico.
posted by fireoyster at 4:54 AM on January 15, 2010

If you are not already a member there, you will want to start reading the forums at ADVrider. I know that MeFi has a reputation for overthinking a plate of beans, but put that plate on two wheels and the people there will overthink it beyond your wildest dreams.

Similarly, the forums and articles at Horizons Unlimited are a wealth of knowledge about traveling internationally on two wheels. HU probably has a higher percentage of users in your position -- coming from abroad to the US, but either site will have plenty of people who have done what you are describing, and can speak to the details.
posted by Forktine at 5:39 AM on January 15, 2010

I've never found the International Drivers Permit useful anywhere. Your home country's driving permit is accepted by authorities for a limited period (I don't recall how long, but weeks rather than months, here in California), after which you're expected to take the local driving test.
posted by anadem at 8:17 AM on January 15, 2010

Last, you will need to get Mexican insurance to drive in Mexico and American insurance to drive in the USA.

You may want to look up Mexico's rules about driving a vehicle across the border that's not registered to you (if you sister ends up registering it). This caused a big headache for a friend of mine recently.
posted by lunalaguna at 9:13 AM on January 15, 2010

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