Founded in 1947, as the International Permanent Bureau of Motor Cycle Manufacturers - Bureau Permanent International des Constructeurs de Motocycles (BPICM).
The purpose of the organization was to provide coordination between national industries during the reconstruction period after the Second World War.
Under the auspices of the United Nations, the 1958 Agreement of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN ECE) was established, aiming at harmonizing technical requirements for road vehicles via UN ECE Regulations.
Since these Regulations also covered motorcycles and mopeds, BPICM decided to employ permanent staff from 1975 so that the motorcycle industry could be professionally represented in the UN meetings in Geneva.
As a result, BPICM became the accredited organisation towards the United Nations for the motorcycle industry in international technical exchanges with the administrations and Contracting Parties.
In 1987 the name was changed to IMMA (International Motorcycle Manufacturers Association).
The growing importance of the Global Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (UN ECE WP.29), among others as a result of World Trade Organisation developments, calling for more harmonization in technical legislation across the globe, resulted in IMMA moving from Paris to Geneva. The new office was registered in accordance with Swiss law in 1996. At that time also the meeting structure was revised to better deal with harmonization, and the membership structure of the organisation was regionalized to reflect the major economic and industrial blocks in the world, at that time the US, Europe and Japan.
Since then the 1998 Agreement and many new players in the economic arena have truly globalized the work in UN ECE, and this has had major consequences for the IMMA organisation with several new members and regional reshufflings. These changes were, and are, reflected in regular reviews of the IMMA Constitution.
From the start IMMA has been a member driven organization with a small secretariat providing the necessary services to the expert committees, now dealing with environmental, safety and harmonization technical issues, as well as with road safety matters.