Boat Trailer Registration Requirement

Do You Need Plates On a Boat Trailer? Requirements By State

The requirements for registering your boat trailer will vary depending on the state in which it’s being used. Check out this article to see if license plates are required by law where you live and operate.

In most cases, it is true that you would be required to have your trailer registered and display a license plate on it, but depending on where you live, this might not be the case for you. Even if you are not required to register it, you might want to plate it regardless.

Below you will find a list of all the 50 states and their individual requirements concerning the registration process. Even if you live in a state that doesn’t require registration, you should consider having your boat trailer registered and we will explain below what are the benefits of doing so.

Boat Trailer Registration/Plate Requirements For Individual State

State Boat Trailer Registration Requirements
Alabama You don’t have to register your boat trailer in Alabama.
Alaska All trailers will have to get registered.
Arizona The registration of the trailer will depend on the weight of the trailer as certified by the owner and on whether or not it will be used for commercial purposes. Your trailer could be eligible for either a permanent registration or a regular one that only lasts from one to five years.

For the following vehicles, a permanent registration will have to be issued:

  • Any trailers used for noncommercial activities that have a declared gross vehicle weight (GVW) of under 10,000 lbs. You will have to pay a one-time registration fee of $125.
  • Permanent registration will mean a one-time fee as well as the issuing of a PERM license plate tab. You won’t have to pay any annual fees for the registration or any vehicle license taxes. You will only be required to pay a fee for a special plate if you want to get one. This fee will have to be paid annually.

The public safety fee is collected at the initial registration and for each transfer of ownership.

Arkansas All trailers drawn by automobiles and Class One trucks, and all boat trailers and travel trailers drawn by any truck, which truck has a load capacity of one (1) ton or less, a
triennial fee of twenty-one dollars ($21.00). Provided, however, every owner of a trailer drawn by automobiles and Class One trucks, and all boat trailers and travel trailers drawn by any truck, purchased or otherwise acquired on or after January 1, 2002 shall pay thirty-six dollars ($36.00) for the issuance of a permanent registration that shall remain valid, without renewal, until the owner of the trailer sells or otherwise disposes of the trailer for which the registration is issued.
Permanent registration issued under this subdivision (a)(3)(I)(i)(a )(1 ) shall not be transferred to other owners or other vehicles, and shall not be replaced under 27-14-602(b)(6). Any owner of a trailer registered under the provisions of this subdivision before January 1, 2002, may, at his or her option, upon expiration of such registration, pay thirty-six dollars ($36.00) for the issuance of a permanent registration as authorized in this subdivision
California When it comes to California DMV, it is best to call them directly and ask, because the law on trailers is pretty difficult to understand and follow. As we understand, trailers that are under 3000 GVW should not need registration. However, they do have a PTI program.

The PTI program is a registration program used for most trailers, with the exception of trailer coaches and park trailers. As soon as it is issued, the PTI license plate should stay with the vehicle at all times. To keep this record, a service fee will be required once every 5 years.

Colorado All trailers will have to be registered and titled in the state of Colorado.
Connecticut All trailers will have to be registered in the state of Connecticut.
Delaware You will have to register and title your boat trailer at the DMV (Division of Motor Vehicles)
Florida You will have to register your boat trailer if you live in Florida.
Georgia You will have to register your boat trailer at the Georgia Motor Vehicle Division.
Hawaii In the state of Hawaii, you will have to register your boat trailer.
Idaho The state of Idaho requires any boat trailer to be registered and titled.
Illinois The state of Illinois does require any boat trailer to get a license plate registration.
Indiana Your boat trailer will also have to be registered in Indiana.
Iowa You will have to pay the fees and fill out the needed forms at the county treasurer’s office to register your trailer in Iowa. If you live outside of Iowa but your state requires registration for the trailer that you want to tow, then you will still have valid plates and the needed registration papers from the home state.
Kansas If the gross operating weight overpasses 2,000 pounds, then the boat trailer will have to be registered and titled in the state of Kansas.
Kentucky You will not have to register your trailer if it is used for farm equipment, farm suppliers, farm products, personal effects, luggage, or transportation of boats, and if the trailer is privately owned. However, you will still have to title your trailer in Kentucky.
Louisiana The state of Louisiana does require your boat trailer to be plated and registered.
Maine You will have to register your boat trailer in Maine.
Maryland Boat trailers will have to be titled and if you want to register them, they will have to pass a safety inspection. They are basically subject to the same laws as passenger vehicles.
Massachusetts You will not be required to title your trailer, but depending on its size, you might be required to register it. Any trailer that with cargo has a combined weight of under 3,000 lbs will not be required to get titled.
Michigan You will have to register any trailer that will be used on the roads of Michigan and have it display valid license plates.
Minnesota Your trailer will simply receive a permanent Minnesota registration sticker if it is just a small utility trailer, under 3,000 pounds in weight. You will have to display this sticker on the tongue of the trailer. The trailer won’t have to get plated.

You will have to get license plates with yearly registration if your trailer is over 3,000 pounds in weight in Minnesota.

Mississippi In the state of Mississippi, you will have to register your boat trailer if it is over 5,000 lbs in weight (GVW). If the trailer is below 5,000 lbs combined weight with cargo, then you may voluntarily title it. ‚Äč
Missouri In the state of Missouri, you will be required to register and title your boat trailer.
Montana In the state of Montana, you will need to register and title your boat trailer.
Nebraska In order to lawfully use a boat trailer on the public streets and highways of Nebraska, you will have to register it with Nebraska’s DMV.
Nevada In order to be able to operate a boat trailer on the public streets of Nevada, you will have to register it.
New Hampshire You will have to register the boat trailer in New Hampshire, and the process is pretty complicated in this state. Consult with the state’s DMV for more information.
New Jersey You don’t have to title a homemade or manufactured trailer in New Jersey if it weighs less than 2,500 lbs, but you will have to get it registered. A trailer with a weight of over 2,500 will have to be titled and registered.
New Mexico The state of New Mexico doesn’t require owners to register their boat trailers.
New York The state of New York does require owners to register their boat trailers.
North Carolina You will have to register your trailer in North Carolina, but you won’t be required to have it inspected, as per the state’s DMV.
North Dakota You won’t have to register your trailer in the state of North Dakota.
Ohio The state of Ohio does require all boat trailers to be registered. You will also have to go through an extra step that requires you to supply a weight card that shows the weight of the trailer when empty.
Oklahoma You will not be required to register a boat trailer in the state of Oklahoma.
Noncommercial trailers like utility or boat trailers may be registered only as an option for the owner, with no title issued, for an annual fee of $12.
Oregon You will have to register and title at the DMV any trailers that will be operated on Oregon’s public roads. The exception is represented by trailers that have a loaded weight of under 1m800 pounds, which are exempt from any registration or title requirements.
Pennsylvania Your boat trailer will have to be registered and titled in Pennsylvania.
Rhode Island You will need to register your boat trailer to use it on any public roadways of Rhode Island.
South Carolina You won’t have to register and license your trailer if it has a weight smaller than 2,500 pounds. If the one you own is over the weight of 2,500 lbs, it will have to be registered.
South Dakota The North Dakota Dept of Transportation states that you won’t be required to register your personal boat trailer.

The reason behind this is because they list this type of vehicle in the “trailers exempt from registration” list, which states:

  • Trailers that will be used to haul recreational vehicles that are not qualified for registration, like ATVs, snowmobiles, boats, and personal watercraft.
  • Trailers that have a gross weight of under 1,500 pounds and are not for commercial use.
Tennessee You will not be required to license or register your boat trailer in the State of Tennessee.
Texas You will have to register any boat trailer in the state of Texas. One thing to remember is that all trailers over 4000 GVW will be titled, but those that are under that weight will not.
Utah If you are the owner of a trailer that is operated in the state of Utah, and this includes tent and travel trailers that weigh more than 750 lbs, you will have to register and title it.
Vermont You will be required to register your boat trailer in the state of Vermont. If you have a trailer that has a gross weight of over 3,000 pounds, then you should check out the state’s requirements for trailer brakes.
Virginia Any kind of trailer will have to be registered at the DMV in the state of Virginia. The registration types are permanent, bi-annual, or annual, depending on your needs and desires.
Washington In Washington D.C. you are required to get your boat trailer plated. However, if your trailer is under 2,000 pounds in weight when empty, which is most of the time the case, you can get “intermittent use” plates. This is a really cheap alternative to the normal plates.
West Virginia All boat trailers will have to be registered in the state of West Virginia.
Wisconsin In the state of Wisconsin, all trailers that weigh over 3,000 pounds operated will have to be titled and registered. You won’t have to register a trailer that is under 3,000 pounds gross weight when operated.
Wyoming You will have to register your boat trailer in the state of Wyoming. You will have to get a title first, before you can actually get the registration. You won’t be granted access on public roads if you won’t be able to get a title, so get that fixed first.

You Should Register For A Boat Trailer Plate Anyway

Boat Trailer RegistrationThere are states in which you won’t be required to plate or register your boat trailer. Even so, if you want to take it to a different state that will require trailers to have a license plate, you would be subjected to that state’s laws.

A thing you should always remember, is that you will always have to abide by the laws of the particular state in which you are using the boat trailer, even if you live in a totally different state. Not abiding by the laws of the state might get you a ticket.

Living On a Border Between States

You might be one of the people that live on the border between two states. This is exactly my situation. The state in which I live and the one closeby have very different registration laws for vehicles.

I have to do this, seeing that I need to travel a lot in the state with the harder laws. To make things easier, I always title and register all of my vehicles that I plan to take on public roads. This way, I am never in trouble regardless of where I choose to travel.

Check The Surrounding States For Any Boat Trailer Registration Requirements

Regardless of what you might think you know about specific laws, remember that laws can change from time to time. You should always double-check with the DMV of the states in which you want to use the trailer. This will help you save money both on useless registration fees, and on possible tickets for infractions.

You might be surprised to find out that some boats also require registration and/or a title, just like the boat trailers do. You can read about the title requirements for each state in the following article.

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