How to register a homemade trailer

How to register a homemade trailer

How to register a homemade trailer? With a bit of woodworking and welding skills, some folks manage to build sturdy and mechanically sound trailers, saving hundreds of dollars.

Hats off, if you have pulled off this amazing feat.

You’re now just a step away from reaping from your efforts in the form of convenient transport for your goods, tools, or even family (to camping trips).

That final move is registering your homemade trailer.

Don’t worry if this is not something you have done in the past- the regulations in most states are friendly and you should have your homemade registered without much hassle.

To help you out, here is how to register a homemade trailer….

How to register a homemade trailer – step by step

A couple of things to note before we jump in:

First, there’s no standard procedure and the exact steps may differ depending on the jurisdiction you presently live in.

That means that the instructions below are somewhat general and you’ll need to visit the website of your state’s DMV (department of motor vehicles) or it’s equivalent in your country for the specifics.

The other thing to beware of is about the cost- you will be charged some fees though not in amounts that you should lose sleep about.

Here is the step-by-step guide now:

Step 1: Confirm the necessary conditions

As mentioned, the laws differ when it comes to licensing of homemade trailers.

For that reason, the best way to approach this is first to confirm the actual series of steps from the website of the DMV (or the agency responsible for vehicle registration) in your state.

Simply perform an online lookup for your state’s DMV website.

For example, if you’re in California, search for “California DMV official website” on Google.

Likewise, if you’re in Nevada, Google for “Nevada DMV official website”.

Tip: If you’d rather talk to the DMV officials in person, you can locate your nearest DMV offices by typing your zip code/state on this link.


Step 2: Get the paperwork ready

In general, having complete documentation will hasten the process.

It’s, therefore, important for you to get all the papers and forms ready before proceeding with the application.

On the whole, you should put the following documentation together (though some states may ask for a few extra papers):

  • Bills of sales/receipts for every material used in building the trailer– the fees you’ll pay is largely determined by the total value of your trailer. This will be calculated from the original receipts in your possession. Remember that you may be required to present the receipts to the DMV staff.
  • Your trailer’s weight slip– the weight of your trailer will be required when filling the application. Have it weighed at your most convenient car weight scale and keep the weight slip safe.
  • A document revealing how you constructed the trailer– where needed (not all areas need this), this should be a notarized statement breaking down things such as the materials you used to build the trailer, the procedures/techniques, and other relevant construction particulars.
  • Photographs of the trailer– take and print out quality photos of the trailer from all angles (front, rear, sides, etc.).
  • Safety inspection report for your Homemade/Unidentifiable Trailer- Your trailer may not be assigned a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) until it has passed inspection in most states. Refer to the official DMV or transport personnel website for further information and call your local officials to secure an appointment for trailer inspection (contact information available on the web page).

It should be pointed out that you must return for another review if your trailer did not pass inspection the first time, perhaps because of the equipment requirements.

Tip: Some of the documents are needed at the time of inspection in some states. For example, officials in Washington ask for Bills of sale, All receipts/invoices (for major components), and a Weight slip (from an authorized scale) for all inspections.

  • Proof of trailer and car insurance- Your car needs valid insurance as well as the trailer for some states. Go ahead and purchase trailer insurance from your preferred insurance agent.

Other documents:

For the most part, you’ll be asked to present proof of address (use a copy of your utility bill or your voter’s registration) and your driver’s license.

Step 3: Make the application

With all the paperwork in order, the next and last step is applying for Vehicle/Trailer Identification Number Plate or Verification.

To register and/or title your homemade trailer, the owner is required to submit the documents I have listed above and additional forms in most territories. These should be downloaded and completed as necessary from your licensing office’s website (you can also collect them in person from the DMV offices).

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The applicable fee is also to be paid at this stage.

For example, those who live in Missouri must submit the documents and payments below:

  • A signed application Form 108 for Missouri Title & License.
  • A duly completed Application for Trailer Identification Number Plate/Verification (Form 5062).
  • $25 inspection fee (where the inspection was conducted by officials from Missouri State Highway Patrol.
  • $14.50 title application & processing fees.
  • $13.50 trailer identification number plate & processing fees.

Note that in most cases in the US, you’re required to make copies of the documents and present them to the offices in person.

Now, while some states issue identification number plates to owners at the time of making the application for title, other states take a little bit longer and issue temporary documents to you.

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The good news is that, nothing in law prohibits you from using your trailer during this period, provided you carry the temporary documents along. 

When it’s finally in your hands, you’re expected to affix the serial plate permanently to the trailer, usually with rivets/screws.

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In some instances, a law enforcement officer may be required to complete a form certifying that you have fixed the serial plate properly to the trailer.

Any trailer that is intended to be drawn upon our highways must be legitimately licensed and have a genuine trailer license plate screwed to the rear, displaying the numbers and letters clearly.

You now understand how to register a homemade trailer so we hope that you’ll start the process this very minute.

Keep in mind that in some areas, your license plates may take a few weeks to be mailed.

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