How to Get a Title for Your Trailer

Have you recently purchased a new trailer? If so, congratulations. You probably can’t wait to show your friends and family and get busy using your new trailer.

Before you can really begin to incorporate your trailer into your plans, however, there are a few things that need to be taken care of first. You’ll need to get insurance. Depending on your specific trailer, it may need to be inspected. And of course, you’ll need to get a title and registration.

If phrases like “title and registration” immediately fill you with dread, don’t worry. We understand that this might not be your favorite part of getting a new trailer. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to make the process as easy and pain-free as possible. Follow the information here, and your trailer will be road-ready in no time.

What Is a Title? What Is a Registration?

Let’s begin by making sure we’re all on the same page with this basic terminology. Titles and registrations are both ideas that we might primarily think of in relation to cars, but that also apply to many other types of motor vehicles like motorcycles, tractors and even trailers.

A title is a legal document that certifies you are the owner of the vehicle in question. Every vehicle being operated on the road must have a title, as this provides legal proof of who owns the vehicle.

A registration, while related, is something different. A registration is something you file with your state of residence to prove that you’ve paid them any taxes or fees required to own and operate a vehicle in their state. As proof that you’ve registered with the state, you’ll usually receive a state-issued license plate or, in lieu of this, a registration sticker. These identifiers show that your vehicle has been made known to the state, is roadworthy and that you have paid all the necessary fees associated with owning it.

Do I Need to Get a Title for My Trailer?

You may be wondering if a title is absolutely necessary for your trailer. After all, a trailer doesn’t move anywhere under its own power. One might wonder whether it truly qualifies as a motor vehicle and thus, whether or not it actually needs a title.

The short answer is yes, you need a title for your trailer. The slightly longer answer is that it depends on your specific trailer and it depends where you live. If your trailer is extremely small or not being used on the road, there may be a chance it does not need to be titled. The odds of this are slim, however, as the DMV has a broad definition of a trailer which likely encompasses anything we might think of as a trailer.

Whether or not you must title your trailer also depends on which state you live in. Different states have different rules on this matter and to be sure, you’ll want to research information on your state in particular.

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What Is a Trailer?

The DMV may stipulate that trailers must be titled and registered in your home state. Because of this, it’s worth taking a look at how the DMV defines trailers, and whether or not your trailer falls under this definition.

According to the DMV, a trailer is a unit that carries passengers or property and is either towed by or attached to a motorized vehicle. Based on this, here are several types of trailers that are included in this definition:

  • Campers
  • Farm Wagons
  • Livestock Trailers
  • Boat Trailers
  • Semi Trailers
  • Flat Beds

This list is far from all-encompassing, but it begins to give you a good idea of whether or not your trailer falls under this definition. The odds are good that it does. If you find that you’re still unsure, however, check with your state’s licensing and registration policies to decide for certain.

When Do I Need to Register My Trailer?

If you’ve decided that your new trailer does need to be registered, then it’s time to move on to the next most pressing question: when does it need to be registered by? In other words, after you purchase a trailer, how long do you have before it must be registered?

There is no single answer to this question, simply because this is not governed by any national law. Every state decides this on its own basis, meaning that the laws will be different depending on which state you live in. If you’re not sure how long you have, you’ll want to look up your state’s regulations on this matter and follow them accordingly. If you’ve recently moved to a new state, it’s especially worth looking into, as your new state’s laws are likely to be different from those of the state you previously lived in.

A good rule of thumb to remember is the 30-day rule. In many states, you’ll have 30 days after purchasing a trailer or other vehicle before it must be properly titled and registered. This window of time makes it possible for you to make the necessary arrangements and complete all the paperwork and fees, as this can sometimes be a lengthy process or may involve you making the drive to a DMV that’s far away.

Keep in mind that this is simply a rule of thumb, however, and it should not be taken as fact. Every state will be different and to be sure that you’re in compliance with your state, we recommend looking up specific information for your home state or jurisdiction.

What Happens If I Don’t Register My Trailer?

If you happen to live in a state that does require you to register your trailer, then it isn’t simply a matter of opt-in or opt-out. You must register your trailer, and failure to do so will likely result in penalties that grow more and more severe the longer the trailer is left untitled.

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What Do I Need to Register My Trailer?

Unfortunately, titling and registering your trailer or any other vehicle is not quite as simple as merely walking into the DMV, telling them you have a new trailer and walking out with the registration. For the process to move forward, there are several things you will need to have on hand when you go to the DMV to complete your registration.

1. Title and Registration Fees

Nothing comes free, and titling and registering your trailer is no different. To gain the privilege of owning and operating a vehicle in your state, even if that vehicle is only a trailer, you have to pay the state certain fees. You might think of these fees like taxes. You pay your state and county taxes for the privilege of living within their borders, and this money goes towards supporting the state and making it a great place to live in. Titling and registration fees are a similar situation.

Fees and rates will likely differ from state to state, but the principle remains the same. When you go to complete your titling and registration, you must be prepared to pay these fees.

2. Proof of Insurance

Again, this will be different in every state. Your state may not require insurance, but it will require research to make sure. If your state does demand that your trailer is insured, you will want to purchase this insurance right away. To successfully complete the titling process, you will likely need to present proof of your insurance to the state. Because you have approximately a month to title and register your trailer, and you need insurance prior to doing this, it’s important to think about insurance right away.

3. Paid Personal Property Tax

As the name suggests, personal property tax is a tax levied based on personal property. In this case, the property in question is the trailer you’re trying to register. To successfully apply for a title and registration, you’ll need to supply the receipts that show you paid this tax in full.

4. Proof of Ownership

There are a few different acceptable forms of proof of ownership. This might be a bill of sale, a previous title or even a Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin. In all likelihood, it won’t matter so much what form this item takes, as long as it somehow provides legally documented proof that you are the rightful owner of the vehicle in question. This is the state’s way of making sure that you’re qualified to apply for this title, and that the vehicle wasn’t stolen or otherwise illegally obtained.

5. Signed Application

Finally, you’ll need to fill out an application for a title and registration. This will likely ask for information about you and the vehicle so that all this information can be put on record with the state. You’ll sign this application and then, provided you’ve supplied all the other necessary items, you should receive your title and registration.

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How Do I Register My Trailer?

Once you’ve gotten all the paperwork and money together, there’s only one final step left to take before your trailer is titled, registered and ready to hit the road.

We recommend taking a final look at your state’s regulations and particular laws, to make sure that you’re complying with them. The last thing you want is to think that you’ve completed the process, only to discover at the last minute that your state has a little-known requirement that you failed to meet. Do your homework ahead of time, and this shouldn’t happen to you.

When you’re certain that you know what your state requires of you, all that remains is to head down to your local DMV or other trailer licensing location and hand in the documents, fill out the paperwork and receive your license plate or registration sticker. Once you receive your title, make sure to store this in a safe, secure place.

What If I’m Transferring From out of State?

Imagine this scenario. You own a trailer in your home state and have long since gotten it legally titled and registered. Everything is in good working order, and you’ve owned the trailer for years without incident. Now, you’re moving to a different state and bringing the trailer with you. Do you need to re-register your trailer with your new state? If so, what does that process look like?

The law dictates that all vehicle owners must transfer the title and registration to their new state upon making a move. The exact period of time allotted to make this transfer will differ with each state, so it’s imperative that you research this information for the states relevant to you. A safe bet is 30 days or so, but it’s worth looking this information up to be sure. You don’t want to find that the deadline has passed and you’re driving an unregistered vehicle around in your new state.

Earlier, we addressed the topic of whether or not trailers count as vehicles and walked through a DMV-approved definition of trailers. If your trailer falls within this definition, then it will be your responsibility to get the titled transferred upon moving.

However, there is one important side-note to this. Some states will require trailers to be registered, while others won’t. This means that you’ll need to do a little bit of research with your new state’s regulations on the topic.

If your old state didn’t require you to register your trailer, you might not be expecting your new state to require it either, and you could be caught off guard in this way. On the other hand, it could be that your old state demanded trailer registration and your new state doesn’t. In this case, the change in procedure works in your favor. It’s best to do plenty of research ahead of time so as not to be caught by surprise one way or another.

The actual process of transferring a title is not terribly difficult. It’s very similar to the process required to receive a title in the first place. You’ll want to collect all the same documents as before and take them to the DMV, where you’ll apply for your new title. However, you’ll want to ensure your insurance is aware of the change in residency. Additionally, this time around your proof of ownership will likely be your title from your old state.

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Visit All Pro Trailer Superstore Today

Titling and registering a trailer might sound intimidating, but it’s nothing to worry about. If you’ve been putting off buying your dream trailer because you aren’t sure how to title it, don’t let that hold you back anymore. Visit All Pro Trailer Superstore today to get started shopping for your trailer. If you already have a trailer, we offer many other services, as well. We also do trailer repair, trade-ins, inspections, customization and so much more, making us your one-stop shop for all your trailer needs. If you purchase a trailer from us, we also offer titling services right here at our store location.

Here at All Pro Trailer Superstore, we value our customers and their experience. We may be a nation-wide brand, but we still make your experience and satisfaction a top priority for our team. Contact us today to learn more about how we can meet all your trailer needs.