Some people wonder if their trailer needs to be inspected but there are many who would never give any thought about any trailer being inspected. Drivers know that their cars need to be inspected, but what about boat trailers or trailers hauling mowers, or any other type of trailer? For anyone unclear of their states’ trailer requirements, it is best to check with your state DMV.
In Pennsylvania, trailer inspection has been required since the early 1980’s on any trailer with a GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) over 3,000 pounds. The 3,000 pounds mean the weight of the whole rolling package. Doesn’t matter what the trailer weighs empty. PA also requires working brakes on every axle on trailers over 3,000 pounds. This includes campers.
Many state-approved safety inspection stations are unaware of trailer inspection rules. The ones that do may charge approximately $50-$60 to inspect, some may charge even more. The PA inspection sticker itself costs $2.
Safety inspections for recreational, semi- and utility trailers require that the following items be checked: suspension components, braking systems, tires and wheels, lighting and electrical systems, glazing, the body, and chassis. For a complete list of the rejection criteria for recreational, semi- and utility trailers, reference Section 175.130 of Subchapter G of the Vehicle Equipment and Inspection Regulations.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) also requires that all homemade trailers (or one made from a kit) must be registered. Your trailer will need to pass a safety inspection which must be done at a state-approved safety inspection station. Your trailer will be photographed during the inspection.
At the time of inspection you must present the following:
- A completed Application for Reconstructed, Specially Constructed, Collectible, Modified, Flood, Recovered Theft Vehicles and Street Rods (Form MV-426B).
- Proof of ownership (such as a title certificate, manufacturer’s statement of origin or certificate of origin, or bill of sale.).
- A completed Application for Certificate of Title (Form MV-1), available from your local PennDOT office.
- A detailed description on how the vehicle was assembled.
- Payment for the registration fee.
In Pennsylvania, you must also register all motorized boat with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC). Exemptions from this rule include:
- U.S. government-owned ships.
- Foreign boats temporarily in Pennsylvania.
- Search and rescue boats.
- Documented boats used for non-recreational purposes.
Non-motorized kayaks, non-motorized sculls, non-motorized sailboards and non-motorized rowboats do not need to be registered. NOTE: Non-motorized boats must be registered if used at a Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) lake or area, or at a Pennsylvania State Park lake.
Boats You Must Title in PA
- Any boat powered by an inboard motor that has a model year of 1997 or newer.
- Any boat powered by an outboard motor that is 14 feet or longer.
- Any boat with a Pennsylvania title when purchased.
- Any boat used primarily in Pennsylvania, even though it’s titled in another state.
If you want to register and title your boat in PA, you must:
- Complete an Application for Pennsylvania Boat Registration and/or Boat Title (Form REV-336).
- Provide proof of ownership, either in the form of a title or a manufacturer’s certificate of origin, along with a bill of sale.
- Pay all applicable fees. See “Fees for PA Boat Registration” below.
- Mail the above to the address on the application, or drop it off at any PFBC office.
Fees for PA Boat Registration
- Non-motorized boats: $18.
- Motorboats less than 16 ft.: $26.
- Motorboats 16 to 20 ft.: $39.
- Motorboat 20 ft. and longer: $52.
In Pennsylvania, boat registrations are valid for 2 years, expiring March 31 every other year.
A boating safety certificate is required only for:
- Anyone operating a personal watercraft (jet ski) in Pennsylvania.
- Anyone born on or after January 1, 1982, who operates a motorboat with an engine of 25 horsepower or greater.
Also, if you own a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle (ATV) in Pennsylvania it must be registered unless you’re not a PA resident and you plan on using the vehicle for farming or business purposes only.