Purchasing A Motorcycle Out Of State

purchasing a motorcycle out of state

There are many advantages to shopping for a motorcycle online. One of the biggest being the enormous increase in the number of motorcycles you have available to purchase. Having access to bikes located all across the country can lead to you falling in love with a particular model located in a different state.

Buying a motorcycle across state lines can be tricky. There are a few lines of red tape that you need to sort out in order to make the transition smooth. But don’t let this scare you off.

Do your due diligence when it comes to working with potential sellers. Research the necessary paperwork. Iron out all of the shipping and payment details ahead of time. Ensure that you take these steps seriously, and you can find yourself dealing with a relatively easy transaction. Read on for a few things you should prepare for when purchasing a motorcycle out of state.

Make Sure the Seller is Legit

Granted, this mainly applies to private sellers. An actual motorcycle dealership is pretty easier to confirm. However, when dealing with private sellers in a different state, there are a few actions you should take in order to keep yourself and your money protected.

First things first, try to establish a good line of communication. When it comes to buying out of state, communication is key! A solid line of dialogue between buyer and seller will make this whole process go so much smoother.

After some initial text or email exchanges, you really should insist on speaking over the phone. Texts and emails are fine for the initial questions. If it starts to pick up steam and the seller seems serious, your next step should be to speak with them over the phone.

If they can use FaceTime, or similar video messaging systems, even better. Insisting on this more personal form of contact is a great way to weed out possible frauds. If they flat-out refuse to speak with you over the phone, do not do business with them. It’s a huge red flag.

There is no reason someone would not be able to speak on the phone about a purchase as large and valuable as a motorcycle. If you’re finding communication to be too difficult with a potential seller, it’s best to just move on.

Even if it is not a scam, people like that will just cause added stress to something that can already be a good amount of work. At the end of the day, there will always be other motorcycles out there. And as they say, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Get the Paperwork Figured Out

This one may be a no-brainer, but dealing across state lines can get tricky. Especially if you are buying from a private seller. Odds are, the majority of motorcycle dealerships will be prepared to handle out of state clients. Private sellers, however, may not have all the information needed to effectively handle the purchase.

If you’re buying used, you’re already dealing with the process of turning over the title. The nitty-gritty details are going to vary from state to state. Especially when it comes to things like taxes and registration fees.

For example, California has certain rules about which vehicles you can or cannot bring into the state. Before you make the final decision on any out of state purchase, be sure to look into your own state’s laws regarding out of state purchases.

Then there are the usual questions to ask. Check the VIN number and plates. Ask to see the title. Cover all your bases to be sure the motorcycle you’re getting is legitimate.

Arrange Transport and Payments


The easiest way to go about actually getting the bike would be to drive over to the seller, or meet somewhere halfway. That way you can give it a look in person, and meet the seller face to face. If you’re going to be riding it back home, be sure to look into insurance and temporary plates.

If you don’t want to deal with all that just yet, you can always bring a trailer and haul it back to your home state. You’ll just have to make an appointment with the DMV in your state to get it registered and ready to legally ride.

If you are unable to meet in person to pick the motorcycle up, you’ll have to find a way to arrange shipping. Some sellers will include shipping in the price, others may not. It is all going to depend on the specific deal you’ve arranged with the seller. Fortunately, there are a few reputable companies out there. Do your research and figure out which company is best for you.


Cash is king for many potential sellers. But if you’re not going to be dealing in cash, you may want to consider using an escrow service to facilitate payment. These are secure, third party institutions that help to protect both parties involved from possible fraud. Never send personal bank information or money over a direct wire transfer.

Some private sellers may be open to financing, but that will vary from person to person. Some companies like Harley-Davidson offer rider-to-rider financing. Again, this may not be option for every seller. It’s up to the two parties to work out an arrangement that they both agree upon.

Buying Out of State

Purchasing a motorcycle out of state can mean putting in a little extra work. However, this shouldn’t keep you from pursuing it. If you find a motorcycle that really captures your attention, it may very well be worth the extra effort to obtain it.

Buying out of state could be the best way to get the motorcycle you’ve always dreamed of. Just put in a little extra effort to cover all of your bases, and it can be a great way to purchase a motorcycle.

Have you had experience buying a motorcycle in a different state? Were there any unique challenges you faced in getting the motorcycle? Let us know in the comments below.

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