How to import Harley-Davidson motorcycles to Europe

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For those who would like to import Harley-Davidson motorcycles into Europe from the US, it is a relatively simple procedure.  With enough planning in advance, it can also end up costing less than buying the identical motorcycle from your local European dealer. CARFAX has put together a quick guide to make it easier to import Harley-Davidson motorcycles into Europe.

Transporting your import Harley-Davidson to Europe

There are two main ways to transport your import Harley-Davidson across the ocean to Europe. The first, is to ship the motorcycle via cargo ship. The major advantage of this method is that it’s the cheaper method. Additionally, for those who traveled to the USA to purchase the bike themselves, you can drive your Harley to the port yourself, which also saves transportation costs. The major disadvantage is that this method of shipment is slower. Generally, vehicles shipped from the East Coast tend to take around 10 days to arrive in Europe, while those shipped from the West Coast can be closer to 20 days.

The other way to import Harley-Davidson motorcycles is via air shipment. This method is especially convenient if you purchased the bike near a major international airport. While this method of transport is considerably more expensive, your new ride will usually get to Europe in about two days.

Prices vary depending on the shipping company you choose, as well as the method of shipment. For more information on shipping, consult our CARFAX US Import Guide. If you choose to use an importer, they can walk you through the process and will help you take care of everything.

Clearing your import Harley-Davidson through customs

Once your import Harley-Davidson arrives at the European port, the first thing you will have to do get it released by the local customs authority. The amount of import duty you will have to pay is as follows:

  • 6% for motorcycles with a engine capacity exceeding 250cc
  • 8% for motorcycles with an engine capacity to 250cc

This percentage is then applied to the purchase price of your bike and all paid transportation costs.

On top of the import duties, in order to get customs clearance for your import Harley-Davidson, you have to pay an import tax. You will pay anywhere between 19-22% value added tax (VAT) on the motorcycle depending on the country where you live.

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Transporting your import Harley-Davidson home

Once all duties and taxes are paid, you are now able to take your import Harley-Davidson from the port. The easiest way to do this is transport it on a trailer. Although, if you choose, you may legally drive it directly from the port using one of these two methods:  

  • Using the US license plate on the motorcycle
  • Using a temporary license plate issued by your local authority

If you do choose to drive the bike home, remember that it may not be in a perfectly roadworthy condition after transport. Check the following things before departing the port:

  • Tire pressure
  • Gas level (many shipping companies require a low or empty gas tank for shipment)
  • Battery connection (in some cases, you may be asked to disconnect the battery before shipment)

Using a US License plate

You are allowed to ride your import Harley-Davidson using an American license plate. The one condition is that you drive it directly to the local inspection authority (e.g. Dekra or TÜV) for inspection and registration. The plates are only valid for this trip, and you will still need insurance on the bike before you ride.

Using a temporary license plate

Often times, around local inspection authorities, you can find places which specialize in printing license plates. You can typically purchase temporary plates from these stores, which cost roughly €80, have a 5-day validity, and include the necessary insurance. This option gives you a little more flexibility in your schedule.

Import Harley-Davidson inspection

All U.S. model import Harley-Davidsons need to be inspected before they can be registered as roadworthy. The engine and exhaust will be checked, as well as the indicators and headlamps to ensure that they are EU certified. To find out if the lights are compliant, look for a small ECE logo on the plastic surrounds. If this symbol is missing (which is often the case), you will need to purchase replacements from an EU dealer.

Registering your import Harley-Davidson

The final step is to get your import Harley-Davidson registered. Be sure to bring the following documents: 

  • Customs clearance certificate
  • Certificate of Title (used vehicles) or Certificate of Origin (new vehicles)    
  • American license plates
  • Original purchase invoice
  • Report of the technical inspection
  • Proof of insurance
  • Passport or identity card

Once you have completed all of the above steps, you should finally be able to receive your registration, install the license plates, and get out on the road. It’s important to inform yourself of all local regulations regarding importing vehicles into your country.  Be sure to carefully examine prices, taxes and import duty, shipping costs, etc.