Where Should I Buy And Register A Bike As A Tourist?

Discussion in 'New Members' started by FrankieC, Oct 28, 2016.

  1. FrankieC

    FrankieC New Member

    Hi everyone,

    I hope you are all doing well. First of all, let me please thank you all for the precious information you all provide on this forum. I have been consulting it for a few weeks now and just created an account...!

    I am planning on traveling throughout South East Asia for a few years, starting in about a month or two. I have already been to many SE Asian countries and did rent motorcycles while I was there. However, it was only for day trips. I've recently considered buying a motorcycle in South East Asia as a means to travel. However, from my understanding it seems a little bit difficult to be able to register a bike on your own name with a tourist visa (or the lack thereof) in most countries. Crossing borders seems to be another issue that I should better consider...!

    I have read online that the best countries to buy a motorcycle would be Malaysia, Vietnam or Thailand. I am not so sure because it seems that a bike registered in any one of these countries would not be able to get into other countries...

    Let me try to sum up what I've understood:

    1. MALAYSIA: I can stay in Malaysia for up to 90 days without a visa, which is pretty awesome by the way. Anyway, it seems that tourists have been able to purchase brand new motorcycles in KL and could register the bikes in their own names by using the hotel address as proof of residency...! Seems a bit odd but it apparently worked for some. Have you heard anything on that?
    With a Malaysian-registered bike it's apparently possible to cross the Thai border with the bike and take it into Thailand by filling up a temporary import from (if my understanding is correct?) amont other documents, which means that I can stay in Thailand with the bike for 30 days but have to leave by the same border post I got in, is that correct? That would be really annoying because I would like to use the bike to travel in different countries - the more, the better...!

    2. THAILAND: I might be able to purchase a second-hand bike in provinces other than Bangkok and get the registration paper. However, can I register the bike in my own name as a tourist in Thailand? And if so, can I easily cross borders, get out and in again as I please?

    3. VIETNAM: it's apparently not possible to get into Vietnam with a non-Vietnamese bike, except with some kind of organised tour. So buying a bike in Vietnam could be an option (the only option in which I could include Vietnam in my trip), but I am not sure if I can get it out of the country and then in again...! The registration would probably be on another person's name if I purchase a second-hand bike, right?

    I did not include Laos, Cambodia or Indonesia, however if buying a bike in those countries is advantageous, I'd be most interested in your recommendations!

    To conclude, I'd like to know the best country to buy a bike in South East Asia - and by "best country" I mean the country which would allow me to take the bike to other countries and then back in without much trouble.

    Thank you very much! I look forward to reading your replies.


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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    • Like Like x 1
  4. FrankieC

    FrankieC New Member

    Thank you David.

    I have read most of the information provided on the website but I still wonder how to register a bike in Thailand with a tourist visa. Do you have anymore information on some possible ways to do it?

    You mentioned Cambodia on the other thread - is it possible to register a bike in one's own name in Cambodia?
    Can Cambodian-registered bikes travel everywhere but Vietnam? What about exiting Thailand via a different border post?

    Thank you very much.

  5. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Moderator Staff Member

    It's a hit and miss regarding visa. Back in 2006 I bought brand new BMW K1200S for cash and all they asked me was driving license. And it wasn't even Thai license, yet I managed to have bike registered on my own name. Lots has changed since then, it all depends on a bike dealer. I know some folks who managed to buy and register bikes with tourist visa (used bike that is) and others had to have at least 3 months non-immigrant visa to do so. Personally, my first two years in Thailand after relocating from Malaysia, I kept my Malaysia registered ZZR1100 for 12 months with no problems, just kept extending at local customs.

    You have 2 options:

    1. Buy bike in Malaysia. They are bit more expensive than here but over there nobody cares what visa you have. They will provide you with so called "Grant" or pink slip A4 format with your name as registered owner. With Malay registered bike you can travel in neighboring countries (Myanmar and Vietnam require prior approval / tour agency). Now, about 30 days entry permit to Thailand. Yes, that is correct but you can extend this at any customs office in Thailand for up to 30-60 days at the time, sometimes they don't even charge you for it. I know this from personal experience, I took number of RTW travelers to Phuket and Krabi customs and it's all done in 20 minutes. They even asked my friends how many months would they like.

    2. Go to Thai Consulate General in Penang and get yourself 3 months non-immigrant visa. Do not attempt doing this in Kuala Lumpur, you will be rejected for sure.
    With 3 months non-o you will have no trouble registering Thai bike on your name.

    Hope this helps.
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    Last edited: Nov 4, 2016
  6. Cutter

    Cutter Member

    In Pattaya, i simply got a residence certificate from the immigration center. All i needed to show was a copy of my hotel booking.
    With a residence certificate, i was then able to buy and register a bike in my name.
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  7. FrankieC

    FrankieC New Member

    Thank you both for your replies. Very informative.

    @Cutter Pattaya sounds like a good option, especially if a hotel booking suffices...! It's close enough to Cambodia :)

    @Goran Phuket I might try in Thailand first, see how it goes, and if I run into trouble getting a bike registered there (which seems unlikely in Pattaya given Cutter's post) I will go to Malaysia, probably to Georgetown, Penang.

    Again, thank you very much for your help, which is highly appreciated. I will make sure to let you know how things go.

    • Like Like x 1
  8. rcm273

    rcm273 Ol'Timer

    Yeah .. I understand you situation.

    I offered some advice to a guy who is still here in Thailand, he wanted to buy a C90 and ride around SE Asia - He ended up buying in Malaysia - Which was OK he got his bike, the shop registered his bike for him, he crossed over into Thailand because he did'nt like rural Malaysia, had a hard time with Malay food, didnt like the hotels - But you know 30 days in Thailand is such a short time, especially if you aren't on a schedule and you unexpectedly end up hanging around one place, like he did. He comes and stays with us every time he goes back to MY with his bike.

    Thailand is the best place to buy a bike - you will probably spend more time here - due to central location, food, general ease and value for money - theres also a good chance you will get the bike you want at the best price.

    What bike are you looking for ? Whats your time schedule ?

    The best thing to do, is don't rush it .. If you are in a rush, then its not going to work, then you are better off renting. First get your visa, a 12 Month ME from your own country or a 3 month SE from Asia, then get a bike, then you need to set yourself up in an apartment, some place where the renter is used to westerners - by law, you need to register a TM30, a notification of residence with immigration - for that you need a copy of the owners ID card and residence book - get that copied, .. along with a copy of your lease agreement. Go and file the TM30 and at the same time apply for a couple of certificate of residence ( one to register your bike, another to get a 2 year temp drivers license ). With a ME visa you shouldn't have any issues anywhere, but like Cutter says, Pattaya is a good place, because they are so used to dealing with westerners.

    There is a lot of BS about buying bikes from one province and reg'd in another province .. but its not an issue.

    Get a Thai DL because your international is only valid 'in the eyes of the law and insurance companies' for 3 months - its not really an issue, but it could be - you can use your DL as ID, for example, you can get an domestic flight or book into a hotel anywhere in Asia with it - doing a Thai test is an experience.

    Laos - You need a WP.

    If you want to go to VN ( Cambodia and Laos, if it floats your boat ) then get a bike from VN, for $300 you can buy a Minsk .. But I met up with a guy who came through on a Minsk ( I love Minsk's I really want to buy a Minsk and restore it ) his came equipped with canvas Panniers and was OK for a slow tour about. Be ready to almost give it away at the end of your travels, but I think for the money it's awesome way to see that part of the world.

    Post back if you have any questions - and good luck.
  9. rcm273

    rcm273 Ol'Timer

    He won't be able to get a non-O in Penang -- unless he is married ?

    You used to be able to get non-O for visiting your prospective wife(s) from certain well know consulates in Europe. The longest term visa in Asia for him would be a 60 day SE Visa - It shouldn't be an issue to reg a bike on that in some offices (my local office won't, but then they hate westerners) .. but the days of spending years here on tourist visas from asian embassies and consulates are long gone.
  10. jethro69

    jethro69 Ol'Timer

    Buying in Thailand on a TV is possible, and maybe even with only a hotel booking, which depends probably a lot what immigration office your going to, which officer, time of day / week a.s.o.
    First of all you'll need to fill a TM 30 with them, otherwise they'll do any paperwork for you. (TM 30 alone gives you something to read for at least 2 days)
    The dealer should get the papers ready from the Land Transportation office, which has to be stamped at immigration.
    Don't plan any major trips the first two months, that might be the time the'll need to issue the green book and the licence plate. I was waiting more than 4 months, my first trip to Laos, I could convince them to give me the green book, and the licence plate came out of my printer.
  11. Vic Alborn

    Vic Alborn Ol'Timer

    I have, in the past, been able to obtain an extension in Thailand at the Customs House in Phuket. This year I tried twice at different locations to gain a one-time extension of 28 days but was refused both times.
    Again this year, as the permit neared expiry, I crossed into Laos at Nong Kai (30 day Visa on entry and nominated 14 days for the bike). When I returned to Thailand I was granted 15 days without a visa and the bike was granted 28 days.
    I bought a new motorcycle in Malaysia in 2012 (and still have it) as a New Zealander on a Tourist Visa. The dealer required documented proof of residential address. At the time I was sharing an apartment with a local and had no utility bills or the like, but luckily I had purchased and had delivered a small Safe (like you fine in hotels) and Invoice showed my address and delivery instructions. That was enough.
    Good Luck
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