This guide explains everything you need to know about how to buy and sell a motorcycle in Canada as a foreigner.
Buying a travel motorcycle in Canada
If you’re considering a motorcycle trip in Canada for an extended period of time, or even if you want to start a ride in Canada and head overland down into South America or ship elsewhere – a cost effective option is to simply buy a motorcycle there. You can do this, even as a foreigner.
We’re both from New Zealand, but bought our Kawasaki Versys 1000 in Canada instead of shipping our own. We wanted to ride up into Alaska and then ship the bike to Europe after, so it was easier than shipping a bike from NZ and cheaper than renting a bike there.
To help you do the same, we’ve listed the most common questions and our answers. Here’s how to buy a motorcycle in Canada as a foreigner.
Why buy a motorcycle in Canada?
The paperwork is very easy to sort and foreign riders are allowed to buy motorcycles there, register them in their name and even take them out of the country. It’s also a lot easier than trying to buy a motorcycle in the USA.
What paperwork do you need to buy a motorcycle in Canada?
Registration is a one off and you’ll get that when you buy the bike. You will need motorcycle insurance, which must be renewed yearly, but that’s easy enough to do. There are no annual roadworthy checks either, but you are expected to keep the motorcycle roadworthy.
Do you need to provide an address?
As a foreign national, you will need to show your ID and an address in BC, Canada. It doesn’t have to be your home address. The dealership we bought our bike from let us use theirs. This is because the bike goes in your name.
Which company do you recommend for motorcycle insurance?
In BC, there is government insurance called ICBC. The insurance lady came to the dealership to sort it all out for us and arranged the registration and insurance as they are tied together. Bear in mind, it was very expensive at 1,400CAD for a year, but that’s because we opted for comprehensive insurance that covered us to ride in both the USA and Canada.
Why not ship your own or rent a motorcycle instead?
None of our motorcycles back home in New Zealand were suitable for the type of trip we wanted to do. And four months is far too long to rent for. Plus, we planned to fly the bike to the UK or Europe after, store it there and use it again for the next part of our trip.
How did you find the motorcycle?
The same way you would in your home country – monitoring online sales like on eBay and Craigslist. You can also check motorcycle travel groups on Facebook in case anyone has finished their trip there or local motorcycle groups.
Where did you buy the motorcycle from?
In the end, we chose a dealership to buy our motorcycle from. We wanted a second hand bike and felt that a dealership would give us more security. We used Honda Powersport Kelowna and would recommend them. We found them very helpful.
Can you store your motorcycle in Canada?
You can leave the bike in Canada and fly home. As far as insurance is concerned, it depends on where you store it. For instance, if you leave it in a friend’s garage or barn, it is between you and your friend whether you put storage insurance on it.
If you store it in a commercial storage facility, then yes, get storage insurance. Should the facility cave in you’re covered, or if your bike causes damage then you are also covered for the liability.
If and when you do store your motorcycle, it’s best to speak to an insurance agent to get the correct and appropriate amount of coverage.
What happens when you crossed into the USA?
We had no issues. The border guards didn’t even ask to see the bike’s documents.
Can you take it into Central / South America?
Yes, this can be done, but you will need separate insurance specific for those countries.
Can you sell the motorcycle in Canada?
Foreign nationality doesn’t come into play if the bike was purchased in Canada. You can sell it to anyone here. You can even sell it in another province. Again, the buyer would take the necessary steps to obtain their provincial registration, licence plates, insurance etc. You can sell it where is and as is.
About the author
Sue and Graeme are late to motorbike travel but after two short trips and a major health scare have decided it is a great way to tour. We are currently on our second four-month trip overseas.
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Are you planning on buying a motorcycle in Canada? Do you have any questions, tips or suggestions? Let us know in the comments below.