RV travel trailers are a bit weird when it comes time to sell them. The laws on whether or not they require titles vary by state, so things can get overwhelming quickly. Fortunately, we have a complete list of everything you need to know, right here.
RV trailers generally require a title. Some states don’t necessitate a title, while others definitely do.
What States Require A Title?
If you’re unsure if your state requires a travel trailer to be titled, it’s best to check before buying (or selling). The following states require a title for RV/truck trailers:
Keep in mind, though, that title and registration are not the same. There are a few states that require registration, but not a title:
- Rhode Island
And this is why we say things get tricky! Even if your state isn’t listed here, it’s important to check with your local DMV – after all, laws change. And even if you’re pretty sure you won’t need either, if it’s driving on public roads, it’s likely you’ll need one or both.
Even if you don’t need a title or registration in your state, it’s always good to have ownership verified before buying. You definitely don’t want to end up buying a stolen RV trailer by accident. There’s a few ways to do this, but first you need to find the VIN.
If you’re unsure what this is, it’s essentially the social security number of your vehicle. It is a unique number used to identify parts and whole vehicles by law enforcement and salespeople.
You can usually find the VIN in one of three places:
- On the door where it connects to the frame
- At the front of the trailer (outside)
- Or on the side of the trailer (also outside)
If you’re having difficulty finding it, don’t panic quite yet. Even if you found it, you’re going to have to ask for help – so no worries here!
Ask The Police
Oftentimes, the police will be willing to help you verify a vehicle’s ownership. They’ll either run the plates and/or VIN to ensure it’s not been stolen. If, however, police make you uncomfortable (no questions here) there are alternatives.
Your DMV will have resources to check the ownership of the vehicle as well. You can usually schedule an appointment to get it checked before buying or selling. Some states don’t even require an appointment, so check with your local DMV.
How Do I Register A Trailer?
Regardless of the location you’re in, you’re going to need a bit of paperwork to officially register a trailer. Again, this varies by state, but there are some basic needs one way or the other. You’ll need proof of ownership (which you just got… right?), smog certifications, and a completed application.
There are also a few fees associated with registration and title transference. You’ll need to pay (relatively small fees) for registration, vehicle license, and tax transfer. While you may be moaning that you don’t want to pay those – you have to. Don’t try to get around it because you risk arrest or having your vehicle confiscated if you’re caught.
Generally, after this, you’ll be qualified for one of two types of registration – permanent or regular registration.
Permanent registration, like the name implies, allows you to register the vehicle only once. After the initial registration is finished, you won’t need to renew it every couple of years. However, not all trailers and RVs are qualified for this. The regulation on this will change based on state.
Travel campers and tent trailers do not qualify for this and will need to be registered in the same way you do your car. Other exceptions are commercial trailers with a GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) of 10,000 pounds or less and repurposed commercial trailers.
If you have specialized plates or plan to transfer ownership, you will need to pay fees to do so.
This is the most common type of registration for motor vehicles. Anything that is listed above will require this, with a few other exceptions depending on your local laws. This will require you to consistently update the registration every few years and pay a fee. This includes trailers that you’re towing.
The general rule of thumb is that if your trailer or RV is on public roads, you’re going to need registration and/or a title. It’s better to be safe than sorry with government requirements.
How To Transfer A Camper Title?
If you’ve done all of the aforementioned steps and plan to sell your camper or trailer, things should be pretty straightforward. Grab all of the paperwork (registration, title) and head to your local DMV. While you will have to pay fees to transfer the title, it’s pretty common to add these costs to the bill when selling.
These fees generally total out to $100 give or take, though (again) it will vary based on local laws.
Most campers and trailers need a title and registration. While there are exceptions to this, laws change frequently. It’s always best to double check with your local DMV to ensure you’re following all requirements to the letter. After all, you don’t want to get hit with a fine, confiscation of your vehicle, or worse – arrest.
Do I Need A Title For A Trailer I Built?
While this varies state-to-state, the answer is usually yes. Just because you didn’t buy the trailer doesn’t mean it’s exempt from the law. If it’s on wheels and goes on public property, it’s likely you’ll need to register it and title it.
What If A Camper Has No Title?
While it’s easy to jump to the “stolen” conclusion, things happen. It could be very old, the owner could have lost the paperwork, or the owner just wasn’t familiar with local law. Regardless of the reason – verify ownership with the local DMV and/or law enforcement.