As you probably already know, there are a lot of types of motorcycle enthusiasts in the world. If you’re one of the ones who gets enjoyment from browsing used bikes for sale, dreaming about that perfect (for you, at least) barn find, and/or rescuing total basket cases to save them from the scrapyard, I’m afraid we have bad news for you.
See, if any of the above descriptors apply to you and the type of bikes you like to look for, then you’re probably already acquainted with a thing that was previously and widely referred to as “the Vermont loophole.” For those unfamiliar, Vermont was previously a popular state in which folks with barn finds and/or other difficult vintage vehicle title situations could legally register their new purchases until the past couple of weeks.
After successful registration of said vehicle in Vermont, the new owners could then use that sparkling, fresh vehicle registration to obtain a title in their state of residence, if they wanted. Alternatively, they could also simply continue to own and operate their vehicles where they lived, but legally registered in the state of Vermont.
It seemed like a tailor-made solution for project bike and car enthusiasts from much of the US—and for many, it was. Of course, exact rules vary by state, so it may not have been an option for everyone—but it was certainly an option for a lot of people and remained that way for decades.
Unfortunately, as so often happens, not everyone who made use of Vermont’s leniency on vehicle titling practices necessarily had good intentions. While the laxity of the rules worked well for enthusiasts, it also allowed thieves an equally easy route to obtain titles for stolen vehicles, for example—which is obviously and unsurprisingly a problem. (People are people, what can we say?)
As multi-vehicle-type enthusiast Mercedes Streeter at the Autopian related, she talked to Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles deputy commissioner Mike Smith’s office about the matter. They specifically stated that “it has also been determined that some of the vehicles being registered in Vermont have been stolen and some have been found to have fraudulent ownership documents.”
Therefore, as of July 1, 2023, out-of-state residents or those who do not have an established relationship with the state of Vermont (such as living in a neighboring state and working at a business address in Vermont, or a similar situation) will now have additional steps to go through if they want to obtain a vehicle title in Vermont. The new Vermont Out-of-State Registration Certificate now requires the DMV in your home state to verify that you’re not required to register the vehicle in question there.
What will US-based enthusiasts do now that this option is off the table? BJ at Brick House Builds has some ideas that he talks about in this video, but it’s not totally clear at this point. Will more old bikes end up scrapped because people who would previously have been interested in trying to save them decide that it’s not worth all the hoop-jumping? Possibly, but it’s not totally clear at this point.