New registration law reveals often overlooked trailer law



ERATH COUNTY (March 30, 2015) — Trailer owners in Texas beware! When you receive notice to have your travel trailer, boat trailer or utility trailer registered this year, don’t be surprised if your trailer falls under an often violated and overlooked law.

According to Erath County Tax Assessor/Collector, Jennifer Carey, many residents who have these types of trailers have been unknowingly violating a Texas law that requires many trailers on the road to have inspections like a car or pickup would. She said this year, before they will be issued registration stickers for those trailers, the trailer will have to pass a safety inspection at a state-certified vehicle inspection station. Inspection must occur within 90 days of registration.

“Some trailer owners haven’t been aware of the safety inspection requirement,” Carey said. “I’ve been talking to various trailer owners, and some have been handling that for years while others had no idea. But we are working to inform all the owners of trailers in need of inspection in their notices so they aren’t surprised when they come into the office here.”

Jennifer Carey - Erath County Tax Assessor/Collector
Jennifer Carey – Erath County Tax Assessor/Collector

The law has been in place for decades and requires an annual safety inspection of trailers with a gross weight )weight of the trailer, plus its caring capacity or actual load) of more than 4,500 pounds. That includes travel trailers, most dual-axle boat trailers and many larger utility trailers like the ones used to haul tractors, ATVs and other hunting equipment.

Because owners did not previously need the inspection to register the trailer or the registration to get the inspection on the trailer, there was no way for Carey’s office to know if the trailers were being inspected. However, now that inspections and registration are combined, Carey’s office will be able to identify if the inspection has been done. In fact, now it’s a necessity.

Under a law passed in 2013 by the Texas Legislature, annual vehicle safety inspection requirements will remain the same, but certification stickers will no longer be issued for the inspection. Now, inspection stations will send electronic notification to the tax office that the vehicle or trailer has passed inspection. The tax office will then issue one sticker with the vehicle or trailer registration to be placed in the designated areas.

While most of the state’s 11,000 certified inspection stations are certified to inspect trailers, some are not due to limited space and other issues. A searchable database of Texas vehicle inspection stations is available on the Texas Department of Public safety’s website at

Since the registration sticker will be on the trailer’s license plate, law enforcement officers will be able to tell at a glance if the trailer is legal. Tom Vinger, a Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson, said the department expects that with the new requirements, they will see an increase in compliance in terms of inspections for these types of trailers, as well as all other types of vehicles.

“It’s pretty easy,” said Carey. “As of March 1, everyone who needs to register a non-farm trailer that has a gross weight of 4,501 pounds or higher, has to have a valid inspection. My office will not issue registrations for those trailers without it. We simply can’t do it.”



  1. So if you are under 4501 no inspection required. I have a single axle cargo that is under and a tandem axle utility trailer that weights 2200 and I never load it over 4501. So I’m good with the exception of my shrimp boat trailer that is over the 4501 gross weight.

  2. I have a question, I bought a used trailer. I have the title, bill of sale. I went to get title changed and was told I could not have the title, because it said Homemade and had a VIN. Now they say I have to go to another special, scheduled inspection to look for the VIN. It does not have a VIN but the title has a number? Confused, I have title in my hand.

  3. I got a small registered 5×8 2axle 350lb utility landscape trailer does it require a permit or sticker in Texas?

  4. Thats just stupid!!!!!!!! a whole new way to squeeze even more money from us!!!!! why dont you spend some money on the roads that keep causing tax payers to repair and replace tires and also work on our vehicles from these massive ass holes on our highways!?!? or maybe thats just asking to much for our over paid officials to do their damn job and stop extorting money from the public.

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