China Motorcycle travel regulations

How to ride motorcycles in China

We are often asked if it is possible to take your own motorbike across the border into China, or is it possible to put the bike on a truck and then start riding once you’ve crossed into China! ?  Whilst freedom to ride around the World is something as motorcyclists we all dream of, many Countries including China have their own unique rules and laws to govern how we must comply to cross their borders with our foreign owned vehicles.

ride bmw gs motorbike in china

China is amongst the strictest Countries when it comes to access for foreign registered motorcycles. Although once you’ve passed their frontier and started riding inland, you’ll soon be travelling un-hindered, like a local! (albeit, amongst every type of creative traffic motion you’ve ever experienced!)  Although at time it might not be apparent, they do have traffic rules and a highway code! Even odd English road signs!  

The Chinese driving rules necessitate that you must have moto travel permits from each Province that you wish to ride through. I first rode overland China in 2009, on a mission to scout out the MotoExplorers expedition, riding across to Beijing, West to Eastern China. There has always been a lengthy process to follow, which does tend to fluctuate year to year, just to add to the challenge!  The bottom line is; you need to co-work your travel plans, with local agents, government approved tour operators, holding the correct qualifications and operators license. 

Organising MotoExplorers Expeditions;- we’ve worked with a reliable Chinese moto tours agent, since 2009. They are familiar with the correct procedures and are well connected with additional ‘local contacts’, in the western Xinjiang province, which is the best border for western travellers to enter China from.

The whole process takes aprox 4 months before your date of arrival into China and includes;

A/ Collating the correct rider and bike documents
B/ Submission of paperwork in the correct format
C/ Beijing agents in China, handling the Beijing Ministry of Tourism clearances
D/ Local agents processing local travel applications, for each Province
E/ Police / army clearance for each province of travel
F/ Specialist customs brokers to organise the customs clearance & Moto-Bond (Chinese equivalent of a Carnet de Passage) 
G/ Traffic department inspection;  A Chinese form of MOT.  MotoExplorers guide will organise this inspection and the application of the temporary Chinese driver license issued by the Chinese Traffic Police, which takes 1 to 2 days after arrival into China.

Family group riding their motorcycle in China

With all of the correct documents and paperwork in order, you will be free to travel overland China, riding your own bike.
MotoExplorers friendly English speaking Chinese guide will not interrupt your own freedom and pleasure to travel independently day by day. Many people are sometimes hesitant at the prospect of travelling with a local guide, but they are not there as minders! & our own local guides are relaxed, friendly and understanding of your desire to enjoy the riding adventures and freedom from the saddle.

So long as you stay roughy in line with our filed route plans, you are free to stop-start and travel at your own pace in China. Generally once you are on the right route, you will soon gain an understanding of where other riders & the local guides vehicle are in relation to yourself – you’ll soon get into a comfortable ride pace which suits your own riding style and is far nicer than all riding in one long motorcycle-convoy!

Crossing China overland riding foreign registered motorcycles

Documents required:  4-6 months prior to travel / as scanned copies.
1. IDL
2. National drivers license
3. Chinese Drivers license:  Motoexplorer will obtain this for you
4. Passport – valid 6 months after date of travel, with 10 blank pages available
5. Photos of bike, rider, no. plate
6. Copy of motorcycle registration documents – must be in travellers own or business name & show;
VIN no. (chassis number) & Engine number.  The chassis number must also be clear and accessible on the motorcycle, because they will be checked when you arrive in China.
7. Chinese entry visa, This is the last & easier process; The China visa is just for your own entry, it does not relate to the motorcycle in any way.  Chinese agents will issue a LOI (Letter of invitation) often required for the visa application, which is best obtained in your home Country of residence.

Chinese police riding motorcycle in China
China motorcycle outriders © MotoExplorers

With all of your paperwork in correct order, you will not be chased by the Chinese traffic Police!

At toll booths = you can safely proceed around the outside barriers without need to pay road tolls.

At highway inspection points = you will have the correct licenses, permits and documents, for legal permission to motorcycle through China.

MotoExplorer is here to help and assist, guide you through the guide regulations and travel process for Moto touring in China.