Texas Trailer Registration
Just like any other vehicle, your trailer needs to be registered in the State of Texas. Trailers must be registered on all non-farm trailers that will travel on public roads including homemade and commercially produced trailers.
It’s important for vehicle owners to understand the Texas trailer registration process and abide by the restrictions set forth by the state to avoid a traffic violation or fines.
Registration and titling may vary based on the type of trailer and its weight. Farm trailers, for example, have different requirements than utility trailers. Most utility trailers are classified either as Manufactured, where the trailer is built by a trailer manufacturer or Homemade where the trailer is built in a shop or at home.
If you are unsure whether your trailer is manufactured or homemade, look under the tongue where you’ll find the name of the manufacturer. If you’re still unsure, the trailer will need to be inspected by an auto theft law enforcement officer at an inspection station.
Ranchers and farmers are able to register farm use trailers with a Farm Trailer license plate for $5 as long as the trailer is used only to haul livestock, farm supplies, agricultural products, or for participation in livestock or equine shows.
Farm trailers that weigh less than 4,000 pounds when used as a primary farm vehicle are exempt from title and registration. Any additional weight used for hauling agricultural products that exceeds 4,000 pounds does not affect gross weight restrictions.
Farm trailers over 4,000 pounds, and up to 34,000 pounds, are exempt from titling unless requested by the owner with application and all applicable fees. Trailers in this category are also eligible for farm trailer license plates. Trailers over 34,000 pounds do not qualify for farm trailer plates and are required to be titled with trailer license plates.
Manufactured Trailer Requirements
Commercially manufactured trailers with a gross weight that exceeds 4,000 pounds must have a title to become registered. To obtain a title, the owner must produce the manufacturer’s certificate of origin for all new trailers.
On used trailers, with a gross weight over 4,000 pounds, all that is needed is the title.
For used trailers less than 4,000 pounds a bill of sale and a copy of the registration is required. Any trailers that exceed a gross weight of over 4,500 pounds are required to pass the State of Texas’ annual safety inspection.
Safety inspections may require the owner to provide documentation confirming the weight of the trailer as well as photographs of the trailer.
Homemade Trailer Requirements
Home assembled trailers over 4,000 pounds must be titled. In order to register a new trailer, proof of ownership is required.
Used trailers over 4,000 pounds require a certificate of title while used trailers at 4,000 pounds or less require a bill of sale as well as the registration receipt.
The State of Texas does not require homemade trailer owners to obtain a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), unless they require a title. Whether the trailer requires a title or not, the state still recommends obtaining a VIN to help with recovery of the trailer in the event that it is stolen.
Similar to manufactured trailers, homemade trailers with a gross weight over 4,500 pounds are required to pass an annual safety inspection, certification providing proof of weight and capacity, and in some cases, photographs.
In addition to providing proof of financial responsibility on the vehicle intended to pull the trailer, here’s what you can expect to have inspected when your trailer needs to obtain a state inspection.
- Braking system (for vehicles over 7,500 pounds)
- Condition of tires
- Wheel assembly
- Functioning tail lights
- Functioning brake lights
- Functioning license plate light
- Presence of rear red reflectors
- Operational turn signal lights
- Functioning rear back up lights
- Functioning side marker lights
- Presence of side reflectors
- Serial or VIN (where applicable)