In my quest for a 2 wheeler in Beijing, it’s been extremely difficult to gather updated information on processes and legal steps until I came across this little gem by user Settha Lee who did the bulk of the research. I’m reposting it here on Beijing Daze to make it easier to find for others.
Since it’s been posted, I can add that currently, even Jing B license plates are not issued in the capital which will make them harder to come by sooner than later.
DISCLAIMER: I am only sharing my experience here and in no way am I an expert in this area. what worked for me may not work for everyone. I am referencing some websites in this guide, but in no way do I endorse them or guarantee that they will be of use for any purpose. So please don’t hold me responsible for you actions. This guide is only a reference. I am only trying to help.
I know a lot of people have asked about license plates and how to buy motorcycles in Beijing so I decided to write this article. I have gone through the process and I hope this basic guide will help answer your questions.
Foreigners can buy legal bikes and legally register them under their own names in Beijing fairly easily and the process takes only 1 day after you buy the bike. Foreigners can also get a motorcycle license fairly easily as well. It should take about 1 month or so depending on how quickly you can schedule your test with the DMV. let me go through this step by step.
1) Where to get your motorcycle license
To get your motorcycle license you need to take a motorcycle class. It is not really a class, but here is the whole process:
What you will need for the license application:
– valid passport (2 photocopies)
– valid resident visa valid for more than 90 days (2 photocopies)
– valid registration form of temporary residence (2 photocopies)
– 5 x 1-inch photo with white background
– health check (see below for where to go and get this)
– 1,560 RMB registration fee (if I remember correctly)
– Application form (they can fill it for you)
– Choose a Chinese name (it’s more convenient as most places use Chinese)
Step 1. Do a health check. This can be done at any hospital. There is a hospital right across the subway stop near Lao Shan training school. I did it there before going up the hill to the school. Go directly to the 体检中心 (ti jian zhong xin). They will look at you to make sure you are not missing a leg or an arm, ask to see your passport and one 1-inch photo, make you read a number or two to see if you are colorblind, give you a slip to pay 10RMB at the cashier. You go back, you pick up your health certificate and you on your way. I recommend you do it there because it is always pretty empty so you don’t have to wait. Didn’t try other hospitals so don’t know if it is the same elsewhere.
Step 2. Go to Lao Shan training school (http://www.lsjx.cc/). They are on the west side of Beijing. copy this address 北京市石景山区老山西街15号 and paste in on map.baidu.com and you should know where it is. This is the only place a foreigner can go for motorcycle license. I recommend you take the subway line 1 there. When you get off the subway, just take a cab or ride the two-wheel or 3-wheel motorcycles waiting in front of the station. 5-6RMB one-way for two-wheel or 3-wheel. I suggest you ask the taxi or bike to wait for you or it may take you a while to find one to go down. The school is up the hills. Just give the office them the papers I listed above and they will help you fill the application form. You pay and they will call you in 2 days to schedule a time to go to the DMV and schedule a test.
Step 3. When they call you they will tell you to go to the DMV at a certain time. Just show up there at the arranged time. The place is right at the southwest corner of 十八里店南桥 （shibalidian nan qiao). Again, copy and paste on map.baidu.com to see location. This is the place where you take your driver’s test and also where you will process the motorcycle plates (see below). Once you are there the people at Lao Shan will help you schedule the test and pay for it. You will need to come back at the designated time to take the computer test. After you pass the computer test (if you don’t, arrange to take it again), give the papers back to Lao Shan so they can arrange a driving test for you. In the meanwhile, you can go to Lao Shan to practice the test course before the actual test. They won’t teach you how to ride a motorcycle, so find someone to teach you or read a book on riding a motorcycle. After you complete the test, you should get your license in about 1 week.
While you are at the DMV, buy the test booklet/traffic guide book. The English version cost 90RMB and contains all the possible test questions.
NOTE: it’s about the same procedure for a car driver’s license if you don’t already have a license from overseas. The classes for cars are more expensive and take longer but you can use Lao Shan training school. If you already have a license from overseas, then it is a lot easier, you just have to take the written test and you get your license a week later. Of course, you still need the documents as listed above.
1) Where to buy a motorcycle
There are several ways you can buy a motorcycle. You can look for shops that sell new or used motorcycles or you can buy them directly from the owner through websites such as http://bj.58.com/danche/ which list a lot of used bikes. It’s best if you have a friend that understands Chinese go through the site with you. You can also see http://www.cj750.net for CJ750 bikes. I don’t know them personally but they seem highly recommended by a lot of foreigners in Beijing. Whatever you buy, make sure they have all the proper paperwork and include a Jing A or Jing B plate. I will explain the plate type below.
Jing A plates can ride almost anywhere in Beijing except for within 2nd ring and certain restricted areas. Jing B can only ride outside 4th ring. You will see people riding with all types of plates or without plates at all, but they are illegal and risk getting their bike confiscated or being arrested. It goes without saying that Jing A plates are much more expensive than Jing B.
If you buy a new bike, make sure that the bike already comes with a Jing A plate and that the plate can be transferred (过户） to your name. Beijing technically no longer gives out new Jing A plates. So some people buy bikes from a dealer and the dealer says he will help apply for a Jing A plate, but it may never happen or take months because he himself needs to buy a plate from someone else first and transfer to you. Unless you buy from a BWM, Harley Davidson official dealers who all can get Jing A plates (but will cost you a leg and an arm, and they are still transferred from existing bikes), be careful when you buy a new bike.
Beijing does not make a difference for how big a bike is. As long as it is 50CC or above, then you need a license. It is the same license for all bikes. Same for license plates.
Now, if you buy a used bike from someone who already has a Jing A plate and all the proper paperwork, below is what you do to transfer it to your name:
Step 1. find the bike that you want to buy, make sure they have all the paperwork and can过户. The owner may have to have the bike inspected and have insurance before the bike can be transferred. I suggest you let the owner pay for all costs before transfer unless the bike is really cheap. Then a few hundred yuan won’t matter.
Step 2. go to 北京花乡旧车交易市场 which is a second hand auto market at the North West of 花乡桥 on the south 4th ring. Again copy the name to map.baidu.com to see the location. This is where you process the 过户 which is technically where the seller transfers the bike to your name. You will get an official invoice which says the bike was sold to you. After the bike is transferred to your name, pay the owner. He should give you all the paperwork required to process the license plate as described in step 3. (BD note: takes a few days to complete)
Step 3. with the invoice, all the other paperwork and the bike, go to the DMV at the location described early (十八里店南桥).
Step 4. Once you are at the DMV, you need to get the bike checked first. This is done in the office inside the parking lot at the right of the main gate. You tell them you need to 过户 to a foreigner (外国人）。 They will check the bike registration number, take a photo of the bike and ask you to take off the license plates. The cost is 20 RMB. For transfer to foreigners, the plate you currently have need to be changed to a new one. You can borrow tools (screwdrivers) from them with a deposit of 100RMB which is returned after you return the tools. Should take about 1 hour or less. After it is done, they will seal everything in an envelope and give it to you.
Step 5. Once you got your bike checked, you take the envelope and your old plates and head in the building in the Foreign Affairs Office. It is on the left side of the building. Have your paperwork checked there at the counter to make sure everything is in order. Once they have checked and the papers are OK, they will tell you to go to windows 18 to hand over your old plates. After you hand over your plates (they will NOT give you a receipt), go back and fill in the application form for plate transfer. If you don’t know how to write Chinese, ask some of the staff in the main lobby to help you fill it. Then you go to the counter in the Foreign Affairs Office again and give them the requested paperwork. They will need to see your original passport (make 1 photocopy) and registration form of temporary residence (make 1 photocopy). Once you have handed in the application with all the required paperwork, they will process it immediately. Within 1 hour, they will call your name and give you the new plates (with screws) and the papers back with your name on it. I was told that Foreigners get black plates with white letters, but mine was yellow which is the normal color for locals.
Voila! you are officially a legal owner of a Jing A motorcycle. Happy riding.
A note on illegal bikes and license plates:
China has a lot of illegal motorcycles that are smuggled in, usually bigger transmission sports/street/touring (Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Ducati, BMW). They are not registered and cannot get a legal plate. They will usually carry hebei plates or no plate at all. If you buy them, ride them outside of Beijing and don’t get caught or the bike may be confiscated. Beijing is not too strict on motorcycles or helmet rules, but don’t drink and drive. They are very strict on drunk driving.
so, if hou have a motorcycle in Beijing, is this what you went through?