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UK Harley-Davidson Dating Certificates

AMCA Europe Ltd provides a dating service for older Harley-Davidsons in support of the Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency (DVLA) in the United Kingdom. Carefully read these notes and the paperwork referenced before approaching the Club for a dating certificate.


In the UK the vehicle identity and the registration papers go with the frame number. Reproduction frames are modern and will be registered as a modern bike or with Q registration plates. Do not ask AMCA Europe for dating certificates for machines with reproduction frames.

We expect to see machines presented with original frames appropriate to their year of manufacture and with unmolested engine numbers. If the engine is from a different year to the frame then the bike may be registered to the year of the frame and shown as having a replacement engine. Machines are easiest to register if in essentially stock condition, but it may still be possible to register bobbers to the year of the original frame. Choppers are considered to have frames sufficiently altered as to count as new machines.

The DVLA requires vehicle inspectors to be satisfied that the vehicle exists and that it carries the relevant numbers. It must be genuine and sufficiently assembled. It may be recently rebuilt, but must not be of modern manufacture.


Harley-Davidson did not use frame numbers until 1969 (for the 1970 model year), but the AMCA has sufficient knowledge to date these earlier frames. If there is no frame number on your machine, the DVLA can allocate one to be stamped by an authorised agent. After 1969 a frame number with a distinctive typeface is stamped into the head stock, and it is relatively obvious if these numbers have been altered. Harley engine numbers also have a distinctive typeface, and AMCA Europe has a database from 1910 up showing how these appear. The Club expects to provide dating certificates for machines with good engine numbers and frames appropriate to the year. Frames are expected to carry an appropriate number.

From 1981 Harley-Davidson adopted a standardised 17 digit frame number, with the engine number being a subset of this number. Again, distinctive typefaces were used.

From 2004 Harley-Davidson frame numbers start 1HD1 for US-specification bikes, and 5HD1 for European specification. For 2004 bikes and newer, your local authorised Harley-Davidson dealer can write a Certificate of Conformity or Statement of Manufacture based on the frame/engine numbers and an inspection, which should be acceptable to the DVLA for UK registration purposes. An administration fee will be charged. AMCA Europe will not provide dating certificates for bikes built after 2003.

Imported Vehicles/NOVA.

Most Harley-Davidsons were built in the USA and so will have been imported to the UK at some time or another. If you have registration papers (‘title’) from any EC Country, you should be able to convert these to a UK V5 registration document without a dating certificate. This is not necessarily the case for US titles. For unregistered bikes brought in from the rest of Europe, or direct imports to the UK, HM Revenue and Customs will require you to show that adequate import duties and taxes have been paid. This requires Form NOVA1 to be filled out, available as a download from the HMRC Website at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk. The HMRC will then enter the frame number on the database to show that it legitimately exists in the UK. This process needs to be undertaken before an application is made to the DVLA to register the bike, and will likely require a dating certificate. The dating certificate may then also be sent to the DVLA as part of the registration process. The result should be an age-related license plate for the vehicle.

DVLA Procedures.

Dating certificates are required under the DVLA V765 procedures available on the DVLA Website at www.gov.uk/vehicle-registration. The DVLA divides machines into two classes:

- vehicles that have been in use under an age-related or other number

- vehicles that have been out of use since 1983 or earlier, or which were exported prior to that date and then re-imported.

To reclaim an original registration for the first category requires a completed Form 765; a V5 log book or a V55/5 application; an old style log book or pre-1983 tax disc/MOT certificate/insurance certificate; and a photo of the machine in its current state.

For the second category, a dating certificate confirming the year of manufacture is required, which is then sent to the DVLA with the V55/5 request for first registration and the appropriate fee.

Historic Vehicles.

Vehicles built prior to 1974 are classed as Historic and do not pay Road Tax. When filling out the V55/5 form for such a vehicle, enter ‘Historic’ in the taxation class box. Vehicles built before 1960 are also exempted from the annual MOT technical inspection. You will need to state ‘Exempted by Age’ to the DVLA or fill out a Form V112.

Built Up Classics

The DVLA recognises machines built from original parts which may never have existed as original bikes. They are scored on a points system to make sure they are sufficiently original to be registered. They will always need an original frame and engine. This is a different department in the DVLA from historic vehicles, and a physical inspection of the machine is always required prior to the issuing of a dating certificate.

For historic Harleys, many WLA/WLC 750 cc military bikes were left in Britain after WW2, civilianised, and given UK registrations. If you can find the old paperwork, then reclaiming the original registration is the way to go. None of these bikes have frame numbers, and some have altered engine numbers or replacement blank crankcases. It may be possible to register them as built-up classics, remembering that modern frames may not be used.

AMCA Europe Procedures.

When you are ready for a dating certificate, please contact us by E-mail at amcaeurope@aol.com. There will be a fee payable in advance of £35 for Club members, and £50 for non-members, which is non-returnable, so make sure you have read the relevant paperwork carefully and know what is expected. Non-members may find it worthwhile to join the AMCA at www.antiquemotorcycle.org. A physical inspection of the machine is often required, but it may be possible to provide a dating certificate based on digital photographs of the complete machine from the left and right hand sides, plus pictures of the frame and engine numbers, and intermediate distance pictures to show that those numbers belong to that bike. Any inspection visit will be at an additional cost to be agreed and paid for in advance. The inspectors are Senior Judges for the AMCA and will sign any dating certificates as Directors of AMCA Europe Ltd, a limited liability company.

SS Rev1 29 July15