Electric bikes are becoming increasingly popular as an alternative way to commute. Importing them requires knowledge of regulations from three different government agencies.
The key question is whether or not the electric bicycle is considered an “on-road” or “off-road” vehicle. If a vehicle is not primarily manufactured for on-road use, it is considered an off-road vehicle and does not need to comply with applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS).
What does DOT look at to determine whether a vehicle is on-road or off-road?
The DOT has two requirements to determine whether a vehicle is on-road:
1. Is the vehicle capable of a top speed above 20mph? In the case of electric bicycles with pedals, the DOT specifically is checking whether it has an electric motor over 750 watts and whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by the electric motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less more than 20mph.
2. Is the vehicle equipped with components that are needed for on-road use?
c. Turn signals
If the answer is yes to both questions above, then the vehicle will need to comply with FMVSS and bear a label certifying such compliance. The label will need to be permanently affixed by the original manufacturer. The vehicle manufacturer will also need to submit to NHTSA identifying information on itself and the products it manufactures as well as providing VIN numbers for the vehicles.
If the vehicle is not considered on-road, the importer will still need to complete an HS-7 form at the time of import, checking box 8, and submit a declaration stating that the vehicle was not primarily manufactured for use on-road use.
2. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)
Most of the new electric bicycles or solely powered by an electric motor. These electric bikes are not regulated by the EPA. However if your electric bicycle also has a gasoline engine, EPA will regulate the bicycle.
3. CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission)
CPSC does regulate imports of low speed electric bicycles. You must still comply with CPSC’s rules that are in place for bicycles:
Contact us if you have additional questions.