How to Get a Title for a Trailer Without Title (Explained)

How to Get a Title for a Trailer Without Title

Have you ever wondered how to get a title for a trailer without a title? Look no more. We´ve got you covered.

You may have bought a trailer without a title, or received a homemade trailer without a title. Or you may have lost the paper title somewhere and are wondering how to get your trailer registered and legal out on the open road. Although this may cause some admin work, there are ways to get a title for an untitled trailer.

To get a title for a trailer without a title, you merely have to apply for a duplicate if you have lost the title. If your sellers did not furnish you with the previous title, you might have to reapply for a title by providing the correct documents. If your trailer is homemade, you need to apply for a DMV assigned VIN first.

Almost all types of trailers used on state roads above a state assigned weight need a title and registration for you to operate them legally. Here is how to get a title for your trailer without a title explained. 

How to get a Title For a Trailer Without a Title?

Unlike motor vehicles, the nature of trailers means that they might spend long stretches off the road between owners or travel distances between states.

Trailers often sit on storage and become purged from DMV records over time. 

If you have a trailer that has no title, you need to begin the process of getting back in line with the operational regulations in your state.

An excellent place to start is to track your trailer VIN to find its records in your DMV database. 

If you have lost your trailer title, most procedures follow that of obtaining a vehicle duplicate turtle and follow those of your state DMV protocol.

If your trailer is new, the process is more straightforward, but if your trailer has no VPN and the seller’s details are not readily available, you should seek advice from your local DMV. 

If your trailer is homemade, you will need to apply for a VIN from your local DMV, which we will touch on below.

Otherwise, here are some explanations on why you need to title your trailer and how to go about it. 

Read also: Buying a Camper Without a Title in Texas: 6 Facts You Should Know (Explained)

Why do I Need to Get a Title for My Trailer?

Most states require a title deed to ensure that all utility trailers used in their state roads are correctly insured, roadworthy and safe to operate.

Although some trailers do not fulfill specific requirements for titling, such as weight or use, generally, most trailers need some form of title in America.

If someone steals your trailer without a title and VIN, it may be tricky to prove ownership. The titling process also requires checks into the VIN of your specific trailer.

The information prevents you from receiving a stolen trailer or a trailer with an outstanding lien against it.

As regulations vary somewhat from where you are based in the US, you should inquire at your DMV if your trailer needs to be titled.

Some smaller trailers or stationary trailers may even be exempt from the titling process at all. 

Read also: Where to Find VIN Number on Camper and Trailer? | Detailed Guide

What Does the DMV Define as a Trailer?

Most vehicle codes define a trailer as a non-motorized vehicle made for carrying people or property on its structure and made to be towed by a motor vehicle. 

The DMV definition of what constitutes a trailer is quite broad, encompassing several styles and functions, including:

  • Utility trailers
  • Farm wagons
  • Flatbed Trailers
  • Kit trailers
  • Camping trailers
  • Semi-trailers
  • Livestock trailers 
  • Boat trailers. 

Each state usually has a weight cut-off when it comes to smaller trailers needing titles. For instance, Texas (Where everything’s bigger) has a 4000 gross vehicle weight (GVW) and over as requiring a title, and North Dakota has a 1,500 gross weight cut-off.

New York DMV falls between the two with a 3000lbs GVW. So it is essential to check with the licensing division of your state DMV when titling your trailer. 

What Documentation Do I Need For My Trailer Title Application?

Valid proof of identity, which typically includes your 

  • state drivers license, 
  • state photo ID 
  • US Passport or Passport Card.
  • Proof that You Own The Trailer.

Proof of ownership can take several forms depending on your specific state requirements. Typically you would need to present:

  • A bill of sale
  • Previous trailer title papers
  • Manufacturer’s statement of origin. 
  • Your Trailer VIN

Your trailer VIN is essential in your title application. In rare cases, your trailer has no VIN, or you cannot find it on the trailer or source documentation from the person who sold you the trailer. 

Then you will need to apply for a VIN to be assigned to your trailer before you receive a title.

The VIN application process is described in the next section of this article.

  • Completed Trailer Verification Statement of Fact 

Some states will require that you provide a verification form if you have:

  • Purchased a new trailer
  • Your trailer is registered out of state
  • Your trailer is homemade, and you are applying for the first title for the trailer.
  • Your Trailer Title Application and Processing Fees

The application and processing fees differ from state to state, but you must provide the fees with your documentation to receive your title.

Some states have penalty fees for titling your trailer outside of an allotted time after purchasing the trailer. 

The time cut-off is typically a 30-day window, although it may be shorter in certain states. Check for fees and potential penalties when you apply for your title at your local DMV.

  • A Completed Application For Title

Your local DMV will provide you with a particular form to fill out all the information about yourself and the trailer you wish to title.

Though specific forms are different from state to state, generally, they follow a straightforward form application that you must sign. 

  • State trailer Inspection (Where Applicable)

Certain states, such as Texas, require proof of inspection when applying for a trailer title. They have certain listed state inspection sites that follow the Texas DMV inspection criteria.

Texas DMV requires verification of the towing vehicle’s insurance at the time of inspection. 

  • Weight Certificate

Some states require that you furnish them with a verified weight certificate to title your trailer. 

Where Do I Find the VIN Number on a Trailer?

You may find your vehicle identification number or 14 digit trailer ID on the tag near the front of your trailer.

Positions may vary as there is no standard place to find your VIN. However, the most likely place to find the VIN 

  • Look for a metal plate somewhere in the vicinity of the trailer tongue
  • Look on the frame near the axle
  • Look at the outer and inner frame near the front of the trailer. 

Because there is no set standard for where a manufacturer places their trailer VINs you should look for the VIN on the available documentation when you purchased the trailer.

Two places you are likely to find your trailer VIN is:

  • Your bill of sale
  • Insurance documentation,

Bear in mind that if your trailer was manufactured before 1981, it is unlikely to have a VIN stamped on the body. 

What Do I Do If My Trailer has No VIN?

If your trailer has no available VIN and you can’t find a stamp on the trailer body, you still have options available to you. 

  • Approach The Previous Owners. If you still have the sellers’ contact details, you may approach them to see if they have any older trailer records containing the VIN.
  • Approach your local Department of Motor Vehicles and begin the process of applying for a newly assigned VIN. Each state has different regulations and requirements regarding issuing VINs for trailers to find out your DMV’s specific requirements in terms of documentation and procedure; Some DMVs will require that they conduct an inspection of your trailer and carry associated fees. 

How do you Find a VIN if the Trailer is Homemade? 

Unfortunately, even if your trailer is homemade, you need a VIN to buy, sell or operate a trailer in the US. Although regulations may vary slightly between states, the process follows a general pattern.

  • Check the requirements for trailer titling and registering at your local DMV. Certain states only require VINs on trailers above a specific weight class, so your trailer may not need a title,
  • get a printout of your trailers weight at a proper vehicle weighing station to find your correct weight attribution class
  • If your trailer is homemade you should provide receipts of the materials used to make the trailer to attribute the trailer value.
  • You need to undergo a trailer inspection at either your local DMV or at officially designated inspection sites.
  • Take all the necessary required documentation and fill the required forms of application. Pay the fees for the processing of your application.
  • Your DMV should provide you with your VIN and title in around 14 to 21 days  

Read also: Where to Find VIN Number on Camper and Trailer? | Detailed Guide


There are cases when a seller may legitimately not be able to show you a title for your trailer. For instance, The seller may have purchased the trailer in a state where titles were not required, or have lost the title deed.

With the correct documents and a VIN, you should be running your trailer legally in 2-4 weeks, depending on your state DMV. 


Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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