Buy A Motorcycle In Colombia
Long Term Motorcycle Buying / Rental Options Colombia and South America
how to buy a motorcycle in colombia
Want to own your own motorcycle in Colombia? It can be a real hassle buying a motorcycle in Colombia here but here's how to do it:
Here's are the steps:
RNT - Get registered with the Colombian national transit registry. This is a simple process and only requires your passport and fingerprint.
Find A Motorcycle To Purchase
Background Check - The motorcycles title is checked for unpaid fines, taxes, insurance and technomechanica.
Mechanical Inspection - Hire a certified mechanic to inspect the motorcycle and take it for a test drive.
Purchase - Negotiate with the sellers and fill out all the necessary title transfer paperwork.
Gear - We can take you to buy motorcycle gear and helmets and jackets.
Motorcycle Prep - Ready to go on a long trip? We can strip the bike down to its frame and build it back up while performing all the necessary maintenance tasks such as changing the oil, air filters, chain, tires, brake fluid etc. We can also install cell phone holders, USB chargers and top boxes to the bike.
Have a great trip!
Registering with the RUNT
Every vehicle in Colombia is registered with the Registro Único Nacional de Tránsito. Also known as RUNT, this is a national traffic database that keeps track of vehicle and vehicle owners, detailing traffic infringements, accidents, insurance status, etc. When you buy a bike here, you will obviously have to update the vehicle’s details, stating you as the new owner. This quick but important step should be done before you even start looking for a motorcycle.
You can and should register with the RUNT as soon as you’ve decided you will buy a bike in Colombia and having this task completed beforehand will make the ownership transfer go much faster, once you have found your dream ride.
Registration costs less than $10USD and only requires you to hand over your passport to the department of motor vehicles (called tránsito) so consider this the easiest part of the whole process.
At the office, you will have your photo taken as well as fingerprints of both your index fingers taken. Unless the system is down, you’ll be done in about 15 minutes. You will also need to have a Colombia address so make sure that you have one.
You won’t actually receive any kind of certificate or acknowledgment of your registration on paper but you can go online and retrieve your details at any time using your passport number – usually, it takes about 2 days for the details to show up, that’s why it’s important to do it first.
Find a Motorcycle
As of 2019, Colombia had more than 8.9 million registered motorcycles. If you’re starting your trip here you won’t need to worry about a shortage of motorcycle sellers. You will find that lots of motorcycles in Colombia are in awful condition and that sellers aren’t in the business of negotiating on the price, even when you point out the obvious faults. Don't worry too much though: bikes are cheap to fix and, if you find a good mechanic, they’ll be able to strip the bike down and get everything fixed for a fraction of what it would cost in North America or Europe.
The most popular websites to start your search online are:
MercadoLibre - Basically the eBay of South America:
OLX - On-line-exchange, a large classified ads platform:
When searching these sites they will ask you for your location (ubicación) by state (departamento).
Medellín is located in the department of Antioquia
Bogotá is in Bogotá D.C
Cali is in Valle Del Cauca.
I recommend getting an independent mechanic to look at the motorcycle you’re interested in buying and remember that, here in Colombia, even the mechanic may not know what they are doing. They may just say the bike is all good because that’s how he/she would ride it.
This is when it helps to really know something about bikes.
Check all documents - The most important part!
Make sure you review all the documents that the seller provides!
Matricula / Registration Card - First up, you’ll want to check the VIN numbers on the frame and registration and make sure that everything matches. You should also ensure that the details of the seller match the details on the bike’s registration card. Sometimes (actually, lots of times) people will try to sell a motorcycle that isn't registered to them – it’s not always sinister, mind you, most of the time it’s because a guy is selling a family members bike or just helping out a friend. Don't hand over any cash until you’ve located the person whose name appears on the registration – make sure you meet the owner so you know it’s a legit sale.
SOAT - Third-party liability vehicle insurance is mandatory in Colombia and is called the Seguro Obligatorio de Accidentes de Tránsito, or SOAT. This insurance is primarily intended for victims of traffic accidents - drivers, passengers, and/or pedestrians. SOAT will cover expenses such as emergency medical attention, hospitalization, surgeries, and rehabilitation.
All clinics and hospitals, regardless of whether they are public or private, are obliged to provide medical care through the SOAT.
SOAT is only valid in Colombia, and you are required to have this document on you at all times when riding.
This third-party liability vehicle insurance is mandatory. When buying a bike here, the most important thing to do is ensure the SOAT is valid. You can check it yourself, right here: https://www.runt.com.co/consultaCiudadana/#/consultaVehiculo
SOAT prices are fixed by the Colombian government. The prices are listed on the internet and are also displayed in offices that sell the SOAT policies.
Current Fees – You can find the current prices for SOAT by entering the license plate of the motorcycle here: https://www.suraenlinea.com/v2/sura/soat/tarifas
SOAT insurance is transferred with the bike which means you can save yourself some expense if you happen to find a motorcycle with a lot of time left before it expires.
Taxes / Impuestos - There are two main taxes that you need to check:
Annual Taxes - All motor vehicles in Colombia are required to pay annual taxes with the tax rate varying depending on the state (departamento). The current tax rate for motorcycles in Medellín, located in the state of Antioquia, is 1.50% the value of the vehicle. Motorcycles below 125cc do not have to pay this tax.
Traffic light tax - Called “Semaforización”, is a municipal tax that goes to fund well… traffic lights. This tax is used for the maintenance and programming of the traffic light system. In some cases, these resources are used to support and sustain the municipal transit secretariats. What does this mean for you? Just another tax that you need to make sure the seller has been paid or else it's on you. Traffic light tax costs around $58,500 Colombian Pesos which is around $15USD
Make sure that all taxes have been paid. Some motorcycles haven’t paid their taxes for years and if you don’t make sure that the seller is up to date with the taxes, the registration of the bike will not be able to be transferred.
You can find out how much taxes are by following this link: https://vehiculosantioquia.com/impuestosWeb/
Técnico Mecánica or Mechanical Technical Review, is a mandatory procedure, which allows the authorities to know that the bike has been seen by a mechanic and is fully functioning to drive on the road. The SOAT and Tecnomecánica must both be valid at the time of purchase and at any time a bike is taken on the road.
On brand new motorcycles, the first Técnico Mecánica inspection needs to be done after two years and then it needs to be checked on an annual basis. Also, be aware that some red light and speeding cameras are also set up to see if your Técnico Mecánica inspection is up to date! If it's expired, you can count on getting a fine in the mail.
TecnoMecánica prices are fixed and are listed on the internet: http://www.ivesurcolombia.com/?page_id=396
Just because you see all the documents are in order, it doesn't mean the bike is totally good to go. Unpaid traffic fines can really mess things up and lots of people have lots of unpaid traffic fines. If you don't check on this before you buy your motorcycle, these fines will be transferred to you and it will now be your responsibility to pay them. You can check for unpaid traffic fines and tickets here: https://consulta.simit.org.co/Simit/
Improntas - Rubbings or imprints of the bike's serial numbers, called “improntas”, are needed for the transfer paperwork. Don't worry, this is easy to do.
You will need two things:
Carbon paper, blue or black
Transparent Scotch tape
How to take imprints:
Locate serial numbers located on the engine of the bike.
Perform this operation with the bike off and with the engine cold to avoid burning yourself and melting the tape
Use a degreaser to clean the area you need to imprint
Place the carbon paper over the number and press down firmly so all the numbers are inked
Take the tape and carefully place it on the number
Rub the tape with your fingers while applying pressure to get the carbon to transfer to the tape
Remove the tape, check that the number is completely traced and is legible
The transfer process in major cities is quite straightforward and, as long as you take the seller along to make things speedier, it should only take you a day or two. If you are buying a motorcycle from a dealer, they’ll typically take care of the paperwork although you will still need a RUNT registration which you will have hopefully already done, as suggested.
Here’s how you transfer ownership of a motorcycle:
Processing Request Form (Formulario de solicitud de trámite) - You will need to fill out a transfer form called "Formulario de solicitud de trámite." You can either pay around $5,000COP for the paper form or use our online form below. .
Imprints (improntas)- You need to attach the imprints to the form
Fingerprints (huellas)- How do you put fingerprints on the form? Use a “huellero” - a little ink pad, which you can buy for about $3,000COP. It's good to bring this when you go to sign the papers.
Signatures (firmas)- Make sure the signatures of the buyer and seller match the way that they are the ID cards or passports.
This is when it helps to be really organized. At the transport office you will need to bring:
An imprint of the chassis and engine numbers (details below)
The bike’s original registration papers (matrícula)
The bike’s third-party insurance certificate (SOAT)
The bike’s vehicle inspection certificate (tecnomecanica)
Your address details (an AirBnB or hotel address will do)
Details of the seller - It's a really good idea to take photocopies of the front and back of the ID card of the seller.
Each municipality has its own transfer fees but they are generally in around $100,000 COP + 1% of vehicle value (if purchasing from a dealer, this cost will be included in the price – if buying privately, the cost is usually split between buyer and seller)
Processing Request Form (Formulario de solicitud de trámite) - Complete with fingerprints, signatures, and imprints
RUNT registration - This should already be registered in the transit authorities computer system.
If you have all your ducks in a row, it’ll be a matter of walking into the office, filling out the transfer form, then handing in all your forms, paying, and, finally, collecting all your transferred papers. That being said, normally it takes a few days for all the paperwork to clear and actually get the bike in your name.
Some sellers won’t want you to drive away with the motorcycle until the paperwork is processed. This is because if you are driving the bike and get a speeding ticket or other traffic infraction, they are the ones who’ll be stuck with the fine because the bike will still be in their name. Make it very clear to them that once you give them the money, you expect the paperwork to be done immediately. The last thing you want, on your end, is to leave a seller with your money AND the bike.
Most individual sellers will prefer to do the transaction in cash, although dealers will be ok with bank transfers. Cash still trumps transfers, at any given rate. Always deposit the money into the seller's bank account and get the payment receipt while at the bank itself. Do be careful when carrying around large wads of cash in Colombia. Make sure the bank and/or seller gives you a receipt for your payment.
Transferring money to a Colombian bank account as well as withdrawing large amounts of money from an ATM can also be troublesome because of daily withdrawal limits. We normally recommend using Western Union to transfer money from your home country and picking it up as cash in Colombia. Simply download the Western Union Mobile App and follow the prompts.
Make sure you have all the needed paperwork before riding away
Once the final payment has been made, make sure you have the Matricula, SOAT, tecnomecánica, and keys from the seller.
Formulario de solicitud de Trámite del Registro Nacional Automotor / Application form for the National Automotive Registry
We have translated all the Colombian transit paperwork to English and turned it into a easy online form.
Simply fill in the required fields and submit the document. Once submitted, it will automatically fill out the proper fields in the transit paper work and have them ready to be signed, fingerprinted and submitted. It makes things a lot easier!!
Recommended: Jeff & Alans Guide To Motorcycle Travel In Colombia
Includes a detailed section on how to buy a motorcycle in Colombia
Everything you need to know about motorcycle travel in Colombia all in one place!
If you've been wanting to go on an adventurous, exciting motorcycle trip but had some doubts, just read this guide and don't let anything hold you back. The only risk is wanting to stay!
Colombia Has The Best Of Everything - There is a saying that goes "If you want the best Caribbean beaches to go to the Bahamas, if you want the best Amazon go to Brazil, if you want the most amazing Andes go to Peru, but if you want them all in one place, go to Colombia. From riding through towering, snow-covered volcanoes to descending into a 6000ft deep canyon. From off-road trails through misty jungle mountains to exploring arid coastal deserts. Colombia is a land of extremes.
Accurate And Up To Date Information All In One Place - You've probably been dreaming about a trip like this but have had some doubts. What you want is a clear mental picture of riding conditions in the country as well as accurate information all in one place. This book is going to give you that as well as the confidence to do it.
After living in Peru for 12 years and working as a wildlife photographer in the Peruvian Amazon, I decided to take the leap and move to Colombia. For the past three years, I've owned and operated www.ColombiaMotoAdventures.com a full-service motorcycle rental and tour agency based in Medellín. Starting from nothing, I had to work to buy motorcycles, put together compelling itineraries, find quality hotels, and do a million other tasks that make a travel business successful. Based on my personal experiences, as well as the experiences of hundreds of satisfied customers, I've compiled as much information as possible and put it all into one place. Even better, it's all up to date and with hundreds of pictures. All this information will have you riding like a local in no time.
Is Colombia safe?
The geography of Colombia
Multi-day motorcycle tour itineraries
Local driving conditions
Renting a motorcycle
How to buy a motorcycle in Colombia
How to fill-up on gas
Crossing the Darien gap
Motorcycle day trips from Medellin
When talking about adventure and travel, whether it's with an old friend or a stranger, it seems like everyone has a desire to explore new places and see the world. If you've been wanting to go on an adventurous, exciting motorcycle trip but had some doubts, just read this guide and don't let anything hold you back. The only risk is wanting to stay!