Am I Importing An eBike Or Is It A Motorcycle?
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The sun’s out so we’re out. Whether you are getting a workout in while traveling to the office or just hitting the trails for pleasure, you may have seen one of those snazzy electric bikes. They are all the rage, but have you ever wondered… if I buy an eBike online from another country, how do I import it? In this blog, we will walk you through everything you need to know to bring your new bike into the US. 

The first step to importing anything is understanding the parties involved. You, the Importer of Record (IOR), will need to understand your and the governing parties' involvement prior to attempting to bring the bike into the US. The regulatory bodies that oversee electric bike importations into the US are both the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Are eBikes Regulated Or Non-Regulated?

You may ask yourself, when does an eBike get classified as a motorcycle and more importantly, will I need my bike to comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS)? To determine this, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Can it exceed a speed of over 20 mph?
  2. Is it equipped with lights, mirrors, turn signals, and/or other features necessary for on-road use?

Let's say, for example, your eBike cannot travel over 20 mph BUT does resemble a motorcycle because of its extra features including, replica Harley Davidson chrome mirrors, turn signals, and a wicked-sounding exhaust. Be aware that it may not be allowed entry. This is the gray area every importer of record needs to consider before buying. 

Download Guide Here

Did your eBike meet the criteria to be considered non-regulated? If you’ve answered yes to any of the above, your electric bike is most likely deemed regulated in the eyes of the DOT. This means it will need to be imported like any other vehicle with a Department of Transportation filing in conjunction with US Customs. If this is the case, take a look at our helpful blog geared towards how to import a vehicle into the US in 3 steps.

Please note that eBikes are regulated at the State level as well, and may ultimately affect your import. This includes age restrictions, registration requirements, etc. 

If you’ve determined that yours has met the design requirements listed above to be considered non-regulated, you can start your eBike import! 

eBike Import Requirements

Prior to importing your new eBike into the US, you will need to gather the following information:

  1. Commercial Invoice. This form is used to provide the necessary information to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
  2. Bill of Lading (BOL). This document is prepared by the Carrier. This acts as an itemized receipt of the shipment. 
  3. HS-7 Declaration. Filed to both NHTSA and the DOT for approval.

If your eBike’s value exceeds $2,500 USD, you are required to complete the following additional steps:

  1. Importer Number. This is either the Importer of Recorder’s employer’s identification number which is assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if you are importing this for a business or your Social Security Number (SSN) if you choose to import this as an individual. 
Why Do I Need An IRS Number When Importing Into The US?
  1. An Electronic Export Information (EEI) Form.

Next, your Customs Broker can help you with your US Customs Entry Declaration. This is filed when your goods are nearing the border and is how you will pay for the duties and fees owed to US Customs. 

Duties and Fees

You will need to pay US Customs Duty, and Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF), which are both based on the retail value of the eBike. If your eBike is valued at under $800 USD, you can apply for an Entry Type 86 which may result in not having to pay duties.

FAQ Section 321 Entry Type 86

As you can see, the process of bringing an eBike into the US can be a daunting task if not properly prepared. As the IOR, it is your responsibility to do your homework on the product you are importing prior to purchase so that at the time of crossing it does not get held up at the border.

Happy importing!

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About Author
Misty Gibbins
LCB, CCS

Misty has been working in the brokerage business for 36 years. She was the manager of the Blaine Office of Peace Bridge Customs Brokers for nine years, before coming to Pacific Customs Brokers Inc. US operation. Misty has worked in the trade compliance group at PCB for the past 13 years. She is currently the Senior Trade Regulatory Analyst, which involves keeping up with trade related regulatory changes.

While we strive for accuracy in all our communications, as the Importer of Record it is incumbent upon your company to ensure that you are aware of the requirements under the new regulations so that you maintain compliance as always.
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