China Expats
Advice & Resources for Foreigners Living in China
Buying a Car, Motorcycle or Scooter in China :-

You will need your Passport, Chinese Driving Licence, and the Money:

Motor cycles and Scooters:

95% of these are 125cc, mainly because larger engines (Except for motor tricycles) carry very heavy taxes. You will see the occasional Virago or Harley, but these are usually toys for rich people. These invariably also attract great interest from the Traffic Police also! As speed limits are low and roads in general are very crowded there really isn't much point in having a large engined machine

Neither are smaller engined machines common, and most you will see are not what you would normally consider to be a Bike. Examples are: Electric scooters, bicycles and tricycles with miniature engines - something like a Heath Robinson creation using a power unit from a toy plane. Weird is usually the correct description, although these are usually exempt from taxes etc

If you have the right friends and live in either a small town or city suburb, you will probably be allowed to have a motorbike or scooter for use on local roads only. However, this is all unofficial and could become a nightmare if you are involved in an accident - Be Careful!

It is always best to get your Chinese Driving Licence - see here for details (

Given you have a Chinese Licence and the other correct documentation, then you are free to use any public roads in China. You can hire, rent or buy a vehicle

Officially, buying any machine, and especially a new one is a similar process to that for cars - which we list below. However, and especially for second-hand machines, you may be able to purchase one of these quite easily from a local street trader - these places are common on backstreets, and whilst specialising in repairing motorbikes, they usually have a few machines for sale also

As a very rough guide, prices should be from Y1, 000 for a poor quality used machine. Y3, 000 will get you a very decent make such as a Honda, which will also have been well cared for. Prices for new machines also start at around this price, but for cheap Chinese copies of cheap Chinese brands. Expect to pay at least double this for a quality motorbike or scooter, and double again for high quality machines


Cars are very popular and the market is rapidly expanding. Most International manufacturers have plants in China, whilst a few models may be imported (Difficult and very expensive). Most models are made specifically for the Chinese market, so expect high quality internal finish, loads of extra's, and booted models (Trunks)


As company, you provide:
A. Business license [Original]
B. Organization code license number [Original]
C. Passport copy or I.D. card copy of Legal Representative of Party A
D. Letter of Authorization with original company chop and Legal Representative's signature on it.
E. Bring the company's original chop when signing the contract and put the chop on some of the car registration forms.

As individual, you provide
A. Passport [original]
B. Work Permit [original]
C. Residence Permit [original]

The Seller (Individual or company) provides:
* Vehicle Register Certificate
* Receipt of Vehicle Tax
* Invoice of Vehicle
* Vehicle License of the PRC, must be provided besides above-mentioned credentials.

1. A overseas individual must get a Chinese Drive License before driving in China
2. He who lives in one place cannot get a license plate in another place
3. He must buy some insurances (compulsory traffic insurance is must)
4. Road maintenance fee must be paid (Car Tax)

Read how to get a Chinese Drive Licence here (

Formalities - May take a Whole Day to complete!

1. Go through all formalities for getting a licence plate
2. Take out insurances
3. Pay fine to traffic breach
4. Transfer registration place of the car
5. Transfer ownership of the car
6. Pay road maintenance fee
7. Sell or buy certificate for license plate (only for Shanghai license plate)

NB. You will also need your passport or Temporary Certificate of Residence + a current visa
This information is as supplied by the Chinese Embassy in UK, as dated 20th June 2008, and/or other reliable sources. Please check this information yourself as it may alter without notice, and whilst we try our best to ensure it is correct, please do not hold us responsible for any errors - this is intended as a simple guide only