Skip to Content

Does a Travel Trailer Need a License Plate?

Does a Travel Trailer Need a License Plate?

Does a Travel Trailer Need a License Plate?

Many people are confused about what does and doesn’t need a license plate, especially when it comes to things like a camper trailer.

Registering your newly purchased vehicle is almost a right of passage. But that doesn’t mean the process is easy.

We’ll try to simplify the process and answer all of your questions. 

Let’s dig in!

Do You Need a License Plate for Your Trailer?

It depends on state regulations. Each state has its own rules and laws. However, in most cases, you’ll need to license your trailer before driving it around. 

Pop-Up Campers

Pop-up campers are typically smaller, lighter campers that are easier to tow. Therefore, you usually need a license plate, but some states may not require titles because they’re smaller. It’s always wise to have a title for your pop-up camper because it shows ownership and proves that you didn’t steal it.

If you didn’t receive a title when you purchased your pop-up camper, you would need a bill of sale with a Vehicle Identification Number. With this information, you can go to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) and order a replacement title. 

Travel Trailers

A travel trailer is an RV you tow behind another vehicle. In most states, you must license both the travel trailer and your towing vehicle. However, specifics for registration requirements, renewal timelines, and other information can vary from state to state. Therefore, you should always check with your state DMV to understand the regulations for your travel trailer.

Utility Trailers

Utility trailers are usually open-topped trailers used to haul small loads. They can range in size and shape. Whether a utility trailer needs a license plate depends on each state. What you’re hauling can also affect whether you need a license plate. For example, in some states, trailers used for farming may not require a plate.  

Is It Ever OK to Not Have a License Plate on Your Trailer?

Although having a license plate on your trailer can help avoid problems, there are certain times when you don’t need one.

First, you don’t need to worry about driving your newly purchased trailer without a license plate, especially to take it home after the purchase. Most states give you 30 days to obtain your license. If the police stop you for driving without a license plate, show the bill of sale to prove you’ve recently purchased it. 

Another reason that you may not need a license is because of the trailer type. For example, if you use the trailer to haul farming items, such as livestock, produce, or equipment, you may not need a license plate in some states. But, again, you’ll need to check with your local and state regulations to know if this applies to you. 

Man installing license plate.
Depending on the type of trailer you’re towing, you may or may not need a license plate.

Do You Have to Register Your Travel Trailer Every Year?

Although you only need to replace your plates every five years or more, you must register more often. Many states require annual travel trailer registrations, but this isn’t standard across the board. Therefore, you’ll need to check with your state’s laws.

You can typically renew your registration in three ways: online, by mail, or in person. Although in-person can be convenient if you have questions, it can be inconvenient if you’re out of state when your registration expires. Therefore, the other two options can be more helpful.

But be aware. Although the online option can be faster, you may end up paying fees that you could avoid using the mail-in or in-person route. 

Pro Tip: Curious to know what a license plate can tell you about a person? We uncovered Can You Find a Vehicle Owner by License Plate?

Travel trailer being towed in a field.
Contact your local DMV to get the correct license plates for your trailer.

Do Travel Trailers Have Titles?

Most travel trailers need and have a title. However, regulations for trailer titles can vary between states. If your state does require a title, you can obtain it from the DMV. Usually, you can receive a trailer title the same way you’d get a car or truck title. 

Pro Tip: If you bought your trailer without a title, here is How to Get a Title for an RV Trailer.

How Do You Get Plates for Your Trailer?

The local, state, or county DMV will distribute your trailer license plates. To obtain your plates, bring several items. First, you’ll need the title, and it must have the necessary signatures. You may also use the bill of sale, but the title will always be the best option. 

Other necessary documents may include a signed application for the title and license, proof of trailer insurance, and a receipt of paid personal property taxes. This receipt is most applicable for stationary trailers, but there may be unique situations where your trailer applies. You’ll also need to pay any relevant title and registration fees. 

Do a Little Research to Stay Legal

Ultimately, whether or not your trailer needs a license is entirely based on where you reside. Each state has different laws and regulations for licensed vehicles. If you’re unsure, you should contact your DMV. They’ll let you know whether you need a trailer license. Be careful if you’re moving from state to state, as regulations vary. Have you ever had to get license plates for a trailer?

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:

Vince

Friday 22nd of October 2021

All travel travel/RV type in California and Arizona must be registered year to year even if you're not using it. They are very strict on fines for failing to keep current registration. In AZ however, you can choose 1, 3, or 5 years. A utility trailer is a Permanent plate in both CA and AZ. One time fee in AZ for life and a processing fee ($15) every 5 yrs in CA.

StephenM Harvey

Friday 22nd of October 2021

Of course it needs a licensed tag there's no State going to pass up an opportunity to hit you for a few dollars for something I know in Ohio you have to have it weighed if you don't know the weight and they charge you by the way which is a minimum it looks like of $50

%d bloggers like this: