US Customs - bike bought in Europe

I managed to find the bike I want in Europe. Coincidentally, a friend is visiting me soon and he can bring the bike, along with his regular bike. He is not an US citizen. The bike will be packaged in the original box used to ship the bike to him.

The question is, when he enters the US and has to go through customs, will the be any annoying procedures or worst will he have to pay fees or taxes?

The situation looks difficult given that the bike will appear to be new. He’s already traveling with a bike……

Appreciate any info on this. Thanks!

I mean, it’s theoretically his European bike right? That he is bringing for vacation and wants to ride in the US, as a second bike :wink:

The best would of course to ride it for 5min, and then pack it in a normal bike box and not the box from the factory…

Depending on how much money you wanna spend making sure he doesn’t get hit with stuff…


Do you want the technically correct answer or the “I just want my bike as cheap as possible” answer?

It all depends on if your buddy declares it when he lands in the US. I have never had a customs agent question me about anything, even when I was bringing large boxes of samples back into the US from Asia.

Now, could you get an inquisitive, overly-annoying agent who wants to make your buddy’s life difficult because he is in a p*ssy mood that day? Absolutely.

Agreed w/ @Dubadai hat the best option is to build it and repack it.


I bought a canyon from Germany before they were selling in the US. I decided to declare it after reading that they could confiscate it. Saving $150 or something wasn’t worth losing $5k.

They honestly seemed like they weren’t used to people declaring things like that, and that I could have skated through. Regardless, it was an easy decision I would make again, despite wishing to save the cash.


I’d semi unbox it, take the tags off of it, roll the tires in the dirt, and reship it as luggage.

Doesn’t it make sense to take delivery in the US to avoid VAT?

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Sport items tend to be cheaper in the US. It’s usually when bringing stuff in Europe that the european customs will annoy you (very typical for golf clubs for example). But I never tried to bring a new bike in the US.


If it was me, I would unbox the bike, remove paraphernalia (tags, labels, etc) linking it to a new bike, slap on a bottle cage and pedals, box the bike up in the original box with with additional packaging tape and khoki markings etc, ask your mate to act as if he is the owner of two bikes, and he is on a biking vacation.

Buying a new bike and going on vacation with it is not out of the ordinary. Let him carry the delivery notice of the bike to his EU address with him to show that it was delivered to him as ‘proof’ of ownership if questioned. However that is not normal behaviour when travelling with a bike.

The onus would be on Customs to prove he is not the owner of both bikes, never mind just the new bike. Who is to say he has not brought his older bike to donate to some person/charity/race etc. and to use the new bike for his vacation.


Thanks all for your input. It turns out that the stumbling block will be the sellers unwillingness to swap the existing drivetrain for my beloved DuraAce 12sp.

I’ve been stopped by customs in the US, in China, and in Mexico for my camera gear (I’m a professional photographer). I prepare a carnet before traveling, so it’s usually not a big deal - except in Mexico where the agents seemed either inexperienced with carnets or were stalling for a bribe - but it’s crazy considering my gear looks relatively used.

You can try to get your European VAT back, there are forms for that

There’s also the issue that it is your mate taking a risk, not you. He could try to get away with it, and probably will, but he has to be honest if questioned and you will have to pay the fees.


Yeah man. Let politicians take bribes, spend donations on personal expenses, participate in insider trading. Let corporations not pay taxes and rig the system.

You pay your damn import tax for your personal bike that you bought abroad and brought all the way over personally though. The bike you’re not even selling for profit. You better declare it! It’s UNETHICAL otherwise. You won’t be able to sleep at night.



Good thing my etchical compass doesn’t have that exemption limit :rofl:

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I’m not gonna play mental jiu-jitsu over laws written by law-makers who nowadays don’t even represent the majority of people. I don’t act decently because I could get in trouble otherwise. I act the way I act cause I can use common sense and decide if I’m hurting someone or not. Or if I can look back to all my decisions in my death bed and be guilt free of it.

Who am I hurting in this scenario by not declaring a bike I bought for myself? The company who makes millions of dollars but don’t sell in the US cause it’s not profitable for them? The US government? How about the insane amount of taxes I paid for that plane ticket that I bought to go get the bike for myself? Is that not enough? I gotta pay more?

Meanwhile lawmakers who write these laws laugh all the way to the bank. Open your eyes and read some news about the corruption that goes on in DC by all parties left or right. You’ll have a new, admittedly jaded view of everything as well. It’s so disgusting that I almost don’t recommend it.

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Literally every single citizen of the country you’re not paying taxes to.

I’m not saying I’d be concerned about a bike. But let’s not pretend there aren’t victims.


Cool cool! But let’s do pretend those taxes 100% gets used to uplifting those citizens I’m supposed to be hurting. and not some dumbass “war” that 95% of citizens don’t agree to, I’m really done here, I’d rather just be cynical myself here than reading over and over again these gullible cookie cutter takes on a friggin bike training forum. I appreciate you man. Keep doing the good work.

I blocked a certain person on this forum so I wouldn’t get sucked into this kind of mental jiu-jitsu. It has improved my forum experience immensely.

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Import taxes are one of the first type of taxes imposed by the US and are thousands of years old in general. Modern politicians have reduced duty significantly compared to historical averages. You can be upset about spending your money on taxes, but I don’t think your statement regarding modern political corruption squares with reality.

Oh yeah?
I’m not complaining about high taxes. I’m complaining about how taxes are used in the US. I live in Bay Area. Come ride on our roads and check our infrastructure. Walk on our streets (try not getting shot though) and tell me how effective taxes are. In the richest economy in the country no less.

I’m happy to pay 20x in taxes. I just need them to not go to shit I’ve never voted for. And again as for paying a dumbass import tax on something I’m not even selling, yeah… no.