The process of registering your custom built motorcycle begins long before you present your finished motorcycle at the local registration office for getting everything legal to go on the highway. In fact, the process begins with the purchase of your very first part and continues throughout the build process and after.
This report covers the most common situations which arise when preparing to register a custom built motorcycle. Antique motorcycles are not covered since the process is rather complex and most custom builds today are not built from antique components.
First of all you must be aware that every State of the Union is slightly different in its laws and exact procedures for registering a custom built motorcycle, but many aspects are exactly the same.
In order to ensure, however, that you do not fail to dot every "i" and cross every "t" along the way, you should open a dialogue with a helpful representative at your local registration office to learn any special details and requirements that may be specific to your State.
In fact, it is a great idea to attempt to locate someone at the registration office who is helpful and friendly and be especially nice to this representative because you will probably need to ask some questions along the way and having a contact who is familiar with what you are attempting to do will ensure a pleasant experience when finding answers to hard questions.
Some States limit the number of "builder's titles" an individual can apply for within a specific period of time without holding a business license as a motorcycle builder.
In other States, this limit is not simply based on builder's titles but is, instead, based on the number of vehicles of any kind which are titled in a person's name within one year.
For example, in order to prevent people from using their front lawns to open illegal used car lots, Florida created a law stating that a single individual could not title 10 or more vehicles within one year unless they could prove either they owned and drove the vehicles (such as a car collector) or they applied to become a business. Be sure to learn about any such regulations in your area.
Much of the process required to register your custom built motorcycle will depend upon exactly how you obtained the parts and equipment used to build the bike. If the motorcycle was purchased as a basket case with frame and engine parts, you should have obtained the title to the motorcycle with the purchase. This is a key to successful registration.
The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the frame and engine should match the VIN listed on the motorcycle Title of Ownership and allow you to easily transfer the title. But many situations are not that simple and each situation has differing requirements. Before looking at specific custom build scenarios, let's look at the parts of the process which are the same for each type of build.