Can I Use a Bill of Sale for a Texas Trailer Title?

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Not all Texas trailers need a title. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) makes getting a title optional for most trailers if they have a gross weight of 4,000 pounds or less. In that case, the transfer of ownership can usually occur with a simple bill of sale. However, trailers over 4,000 pounds must have a formal title on file with the DMV. Owners must use a bill of sale to prove evidence of ownership when applying for a title.

Texas Trailer Bill of Sale Form

A bill of sale is a document used when purchasing any vehicle, including a trailer. It is proof that the sale occurred and shows the transaction's details. These details include the names and contact information of the seller and buyer, the date of sale and purchase price, a description of the trailer, a notary public's signature and any other details specific to the sale.

When making a transaction, using a vehicle bill of sale document protects buyers and sellers from fraud. It is essential for record-keeping, particularly when a party claims that the transaction was illegal.

Different Types of Trailers

The state of Texas requires registration for all non-farm trailers on public highways. However, the state does not require titling for all trailers – this depends on the trailer's weight and type. Utility trailers are homemade, manufactured by a company or otherwise assembled. The state categorizes them further by gross weight, which is the trailer's weight in addition to what it can carry under or over 4,000 pounds.

A new trailer owner can see what kind of trailer they have by looking at its tongue, which is where they will find the manufacturer's name, confirming its origin. If they cannot find the manufacturer's name, an auto theft law enforcement officer must inspect the trailer to make the distinction. Owners can find an inspection station by contacting their county tax collector's office or the Texas DMV Regional Service Center.

Manufactured Trailers and Titling

If a manufactured trailer's gross weight is more than 4,000 pounds, it must be titled – if it is at or under 4,000 pounds, titling is optional. To do this, owners must submit an Application for Texas Title and or Registration (Form 130-U) along with the applicable fees. They must also show evidence of ownership which varies by trailer type. For example:

  • New trailers must have a Manufacturer Certificate of Origin.
  • Used trailers over 4,000 pounds must have a Certificate of Title from the previous owner.
  • Used trailers 4,000 pounds or less trailers must have a bill of sale and receipt for registration.

A Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin (MCO) allows a new trailer owner to register and/or title a trailer for the first time and shows its unique identification information. Texas requires trailer manufacturers to provide an MCO to dealers or purchasers for every manufactured trailer. All manufactured trailers over 7,500 pounds require a safety inspection.

Homemade Trailer Title Requirements

Homemade trailers over 4,000 pounds must have a title – titling a trailer under or at that weight is optional. When titling a used trailer over 4,000 pounds, a new owner must show a Certificate of Title from the former owner. If titling a used trailer at or under 4,000 pounds, they must show a bill of sale and registration receipt.

Texas does not require owners of homemade trailers to have a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) unless they need a title. However, it does recommend getting a title to help with the trailer's recovery if it is stolen. Homemade trailers that weigh over 4,500 pounds must pass a safety inspection.

Newly Assembled Trailer Requirements

To create a newly assembled trailer (including farm trailers), an entity that is not a major manufacturer puts a trailer together from components, such as a body or frame. All newly assembled trailers must have a title, but those with a non-titled record in Texas or an out-of-state registration receipt are exempt.

Owners must complete a Trailer Verification Statement of Fact (Form VTR-141) for a new trailer. If they have a used trailer over 4,000 pounds, they must show a Certificate of Title as ownership evidence; if the trailer is at or under 4,000 pounds, they must show a bill of sale and registration receipt. To get a title for both new and used assembled trailers in Texas, owners must complete an Application for Texas Title and/or Registration (Form 130-U) and pay the applicable fees. If the trailer does not have a VIN, owners must also complete a Law Enforcement Identification Number Inspection (Form VTR-68A) and a Notice of Assigned or Reassigned Identification Number (Form VTR-68-N).

Farm Trailer Title Requirements

Title requirements for most farm trailers are optional. Trailers weighing 4,000 pounds or less are exempt from both title and registration if their use is only as a farm vehicle and weight receipts issued for moving seasonal agricultural products do not affect their gross weight. Trailers between 4,000 pounds and 34,000 pounds:

  • Are exempt from needing to have a title.
  • Qualify for farm trailer license plates. Limited to farm trailers and semitrailers used to transport agricultural products or livestock from the production area to a market, processing plant or storage, or to those that bring farm supplies to the farm.
  • May have a title if the owner requests one. They must submit an application with the corresponding fee.

Trailers over 34,000 pounds must have a title, registration and trailer plates. They do not qualify for Farm Trailer plates. Additional titling and registration requirements for farm trailers vary by county. Owners must contact their county tax collector to ask about their area's required documentation and fees.