How to import a motorcycle

Queensland Imports

It sounds like a bargain to import a motorcycle from overseas where they may be cheaper, but there are also pitfalls for riders.

Bruce Hartwig, consultant to Queensland Imports, which is one of about 14 federally registered workshops for complying imported used vehicles, says the easiest and cheapest motorcycles to import and comply are in standard trim. “Highly modified choppers are difficult to import and can be very expensive,” he says.

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Queensland Imports
Queensland Imports

Even bikes in standard trim may require modification by a company such as Queensland Imports. Most of those compliance changes involve lights (size, colour and distance from the rear of the bike), but may also involve the exhaust, handelbars and number plate holder. He says most are an easy fix, but choppers with a low seat and high bars can be expensive to remedy.

If you are after an historic bike, the news is a little better as bikes made before 1989 are easier to comply and those made before 1975 when there were no Australian Design Rules only need a roadworthy certificate.

Note that the rules on importing vehicles are changing from 2018. You will be able to import vehicles that are not already imported by official distributors, have comparable standards to Australia, are no more than 12 months old and have no more than 500km on the odometer. You will also be able to import only one vehicle every two years.

Bruce says costs to comply a bike start at about $2500, which includes fitting new tyres and brake pads, metric speedo, amber indicators and reflectors.

He says most people buy bikes from the US and it costs about $1000 to ship from LA. “You can get cheaper quotes, but check whether it includes quarantine and other fees,” he warns. You will also need to pay GST on the landed cost of the bike.

He says that these costs make it unviable to import cheap bikes. He says the general rule of thumb is that if it’s $5000 cheaper than you can get it in Australia, it’s viable if the current exchange rate is good. It becomes unviable when the Australian dollar is below 80c.

“More expensive bikes are better value, but it depends on their accessories, mileage and the rarity of the bike. Some people want to import Royal Enfields from India, but you can buy them here for under $5000.” He says the most popular brands to import are Harley-Davidson and Ducati.

Bruce Hartwig at Queensland Imports
Bruce on one of his Runes

Qld Imports can also find suitable vehicles, buy them, ship them, handle all the compliance issues and even deliver them to the new owner. The whole process can take up to 10 weeks.

All vehicles to be imported into Australia require an Import Approval. They can be imported under the Specialist and Enthusiasts Vehicle Schemes (SEVS) for modified performance machines or as an unrestricted vehicle through the Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme (RAWS) using a company such as Queensland Imports.

Bruce is a rider and collector of bikes, some of which he plans to sell. They include two Honda Runes, a Heritage Softail, a Ducati Diavel, BMW R 1150R, Kawasaki Mean Streak, Honda Goldwing and a three-wheeler Grinnall Scorpion powered by a BMW K100 engine.

He owns a business, Sapid, which does testing and approvals for modifications – such as single seat modifications for cheaper registration in Queensland and trike conversions – and individually constructed vehicles which can be motorcycles using an Australian or imported frame, or trikes or sidecars, or wheelchair sidecars.

Vehicles which can be imported under SEVS are on the SEVS register. However, being on this list does not mean that anyone has actually done the testing to allow them to be sold as used imports.

Vehicles on the unrestricted imports list are mainly motorcycles and are mainly from mainstream manufacturers.

Email Bruce with you queries about importing bikes: mailto:bruce@sapid.com.au

Australian Vehicle Imports (QLD Imports Pty Ltd) Vehicles Currently Approved 

Make Model Range Prices Starting from#
Harley-Davidson Dyna All Models

2012 and later may incur some additional costs depending on the speedo and lamps fitted. This could be as much as $1500

Screamin Eagle models may incur an additional charge of $500 depending on speedo fitted.

$2500
Rocker $3500
Softail $2500
Sportster
Touring
Touring 2
Tri Glide Trike $5500
Street Glide Trike
V Rod $2500
Indian Chief 2 Bomber, Classic, Dark Horse, Deluxe, Roadmaster, Standard, Vintage. $3000
Chief 1/119/99 to 31/12/2003 $3000
Scout 1/1/1999 to 31/12/2003
Spirit 1/1/1999 to 31/12/2003
Norton 961 Commando $3000
Honda Valkyrie Rune NRX1800 1/1/2003 to 31/12/2005 $3000
VFR1200 1/06/2009 to Current $2500
Goldwing GL1800 1/1/2001 to 31/12/2010 $3000
Ducati 851 $3000
996 / 998 996, 996R, 998, 998S, 998R, 998FE
907 IE
1098/1198 H7 1/1/07 to current

1098, 1098S, 1098R, 1198, 1198S, 1198R, 1198SP

Streetfighter Streetfighter, Streetfighter S.
Multistrada 1200 1/1/2010 to Current $2500
Diavel 1/6/2010 to Current $3000
GT1000 $2500
Monster 1/1/93 to current.
Includes 400, 600, 750, 900, S4, S4 FOGARTY, 620 I.E., 750 I.E., 900 I.E., 620S, 800S, 1000S, 620, 800, 1000, S4R, 620 DARK 1 DIS., 620 DARK 2 DIS., 1000, S2R DARK, S2R, 620 DARK, S2R 1000, S4RS, 695, S2R 800, S4R TESTASTRETTA, S4R S TESTASTRETTA, 696, S4R TRICOLORE, 1100, 1100S, 796
$2500
916/996 $2500
Suzuki GSXR 1000 K7 1/1/2007 to 31/12/2008 $2500
GSXR 1000 K8 1/1/2007 to 31/12/2008
Henderson Excelesior Super X 1/12/1998 to 31/12/1999 $3000
Bimota YB9 SRI 1/1/1996   to 31/12/1998 $3500
SB6 1/1/1994   to 31/12/1998
Yamaha V Max 3UF 1/1/1989 to 31/5/2008 $2500
R1 YZF-R1 GEN 2 1/11/2008 to current
R6 YZF-R6 1/1/1999 to current
XV1900 XV1900A, Roadliner, Roadliner S, Roadliner Midnight, Custom Raider, Custom Raider S, Raider SCL, Stratoliner, Stratoliner S, Stratoliner Deluxe, XV1900CTC $3000
VMax VM17 $2500
Kawasaki Vulcan VN800 01/01/1999 to 31/12/2006 $3000
Vulcan VN1600 Classic, Mean Streak, Nomad
Vulcan VN2000 Classic LT, Classic, Limited, 2000
American Iron Horse Classic 01/01/2000 to current $3000
Stalker 1/1/1999 to 31/12/2004
Texas Chopper TX / TA     1/9/2001 to 31/12/2008
Legend
Thunder Mountain Custom Black Hawk 1/1/2003 to 31/12/2007 $3500
Victory Vegas Zach Ness, Arlen Ness, Vegas, Jackpot, 8-Ball, Low $2500
Boss Hoss 1990 – 04/2003 $3500
Big Dog Motorcycles Ridgeback 1/1/2004 to current $3000
Mastiff 1/9/2000 to Current
Bull Dog 1/9/1997 to Current
Big Bear Choppers Venom 1/1/1998 to Current $3000
Saxon Hotrod Sceptre $3000

 

Toyota Coaster 30 All must be complied as Campervans $2200
Coaster 50
Estima CR30/40
Estima TCR10 / 20
Hiace 2WD /4WD
Hino Rainbow Motorhome 1/1/1989 to 31/12/1995 $2500
Mitsubishi Delica PD8W, PE8W, PF8W,PD6W, PF6W PD4W $2200
Pajero Convertible V23C, V24C, V25C, V26C
Nissan Cube BZ11 1/10/2002 to Current $2200
Skyline R33 1993 to 1998
S13 1/1989 to 12/1999
Chevrolet Blazer 4WD $2200
Freightliner M2 Business Class 1/1/2004 to Current POA

 

Motortrike V Rod trike 1/1/2002 to 31/12/2006 $3500
Gold Wing trike GL1800
GG Taurus Taurus Trike $4000
Rewaco RF1 $3500
Boom Low Rider $3500
California Side Car Daytona Trike $3500
  • Prices for all vehicles are subject to vehicle inspection. Additional costs may be incurred for non standard or modified vehicles. Prices quoted include GST.

42 Comments

  1. Hi Mark,

    How would I go about finding out which delivery scooters (mainly electric scooters) have had ADR certification and what those certification numbers are?

    I would like to identify which delivery scooters I would be able to successfully import into Australia.

    Your assistance would be appreciated.

    Thanks Alan

  2. I am bringing in my Harley Dyna from New Zealand all up shipping with tax etc at both NZ and Aus is approx $1500 uncrated which is good.. where do i get it “complied” once on the Gold coast..thanks Rob

  3. Hallo. I have nine Kawasaki Z1300 which I want to take from South Africa Cape town to Perth when I immigrate soon. All registeted on my name and owned 12 months and longer. 1979 models to 1982. I have collected and repaired all. Will I be able to bring them into Australia and with my extra parts for them.

  4. I`m a man from Norway who thinking about getting my motorbike from Norway to Nakuru. Where can I get rules for that, and also cost about it.
    Can you help me?

  5. Hi Bruce I’m looking to import a vespa 1966 150cc from the US, its been fully restored and valued at $3800 on eBay, just checking if you could ship it in and what would i be looking at to get it my hands after all the fees, As don’t want find out that I have to pay later to get it out of the docks hehe. cheers mate

  6. Hi im after some info can i import vw boom trike parts only into Australia as that’s what we need to rebuild my own trike
    Thanks

    1. Hi Vicki,
      You need to click on the hyperlink for Queensland Imports in the second paragraph of the article. That will send you to an email and you can then ask them the question.
      Cheers,
      Mark

  7. Hello Bruce

    I am relocating to Sydney in August from New Zealand. I dont want to leave my lovely Triumph Thruxton back home. Unfortunately I have owned the bike for less than 12 months to import it myself. The Dept of Infrastructure Aus suggested that i use the Registered Automotive Workshop to get my bike imported and tested in Australia. Could you please recommend how i should go about this.. If you have any contacts in Sydney whom i could call and discuss this it would be much appreciated.. Kind Regards

    Roo

  8. Hi, My name is Will and I am a student currently living in Beijing, PRC. There is a 10ish year old chinese motorbike that I would like to purchase from a friend leaving China to return to America in the aim of fixing it up and bringing it home to Australia with me (Queensland). I suppose the main question is the likelihood of such a motorbike being allowed as it is a left hand drive beast with a side car.

  9. Hello, I will be entertaining the idea or importing a Yamaha/Star raider towards the middle to latter part of the year.
    Could you give me a rough estimate of what this will cost me, the best place to look for bikes to import through your
    company, compliance etc? I live in Sydney.

  10. HI Mark, i am wanting to to a road trip across America on a bike. I was wondering whether it would be viable to ship my own bike their and back rather than buying something over there for 4 or 5 thousand. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated. Regards David

    1. Hi David,
      It would be quite expensive shipping both ways and clearing customs and quarantine. Plus you would be without your bike for a long time.
      It would only be worth it if you were there for a fair while.
      I’d buy something and sell at the end, if you have time, or just rent.
      Cheers,
      Mark

  11. Hello Motor Bike Writer,

    I’m writing from the USA. I’m interested in a motorcycle that is not sold here; Husqvarna Nuda 900R. I’ve found them for sale in Australia and am curious on the import procedures. I’m very interested if you have any details on this.

    Thank you for your time,

    Jon

  12. Hi . Do you sell m / bikes that you have imported into Australia from the USA , if so I am looking for the following bikes .
    Kawasaki H1 500 ,1966 /68 Y D Yamaha , if you could send me a list of bikes you have for sale with asking price
    I would be very grateful .
    Look forward to hearing from you . Sean .

  13. Hi , I have a 1986 fxrc (HD) that I want to import from the USA . I purchased it from a bike store $4500 U.S. so it has all relevant paperwork.
    How much is the cost of import and the comply plate for ready to redg WA PLATES.?
    Thanks
    Murray

  14. Hi
    Can you import and comply a bike I want to buy in South Africa? It will be an old (possibly clapped out) 6 cylinder Honda or Kawasaki.
    Thanks
    Werner

  15. Good advice regarding the type of bike that’s best to import: the more mods or specialty items, the more difficult it’s going to be. I love that you gave costs for compliance and shipping both; a lot of times people don’t realize the total cost because the shippers don’t always make it clear. $3500 may sounds steep to a lot of people, but it’s consistent with what my husband paid when he shipped his bike with A-1 Auto Transport last year. Great article & good info.

  16. How much would it cost me to import and comply a DUCATI 1098 or 1198 from the USA please and how much are the taxes if the purchase price is about $ 3500 us. Thank you.

  17. bought a iron horse texas chopper, in the US, so,,, can I take it home late next year, as a personal import, go on a road trip and sell it before I head back here, without extra fees/taxes after the sale?

  18. Hi
    Could you please let me know how much is that to import my royal enfiled 2014 model from india to Australia which i drove there while i went for a holiday.

    Sree

  19. I imported my 1st Harley back in 1981 when the Aussie dollar bought US$1.26 and long before all these bureaucratic hoops of fire existed , oh for the good old days …….

  20. Craig, that is correct and it also applies for other vehicles. However, not many people are in a position to import this way and even if you found someone overseas who was willing to help, your money would be tied up for 12 months and you wouldn’t have the bike to ride.

  21. Just to add to this, there are a number of different import options for motorcycles. If you have been overseas for an extended period and have owned a bike for over 12 months it can be imported as personal import. The costs are substantially less, in my the ‘compliance’ part was $20 and then a normal roadworthy.

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