Depending on its weight, a horse trailer may or may not need a title or registration. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) makes getting a title and registration optional for farm trailers with a gross weight of fewer than 34,000 pounds – anything at or over that weight must have a formal title and registration through the DMV. If it is a homemade trailer, it will also need a vehicle identification number (VIN), which the owner can get through their local county tax assessor's office. An owner who had, but then, lost their horse trailer title can easily acquire a copy through the DMV.
Different Types of Towing Trailers in Texas
Texas requires registration for all non-farm trailers, including boat trailers, campers and travel trailers, on public highways. However, the state does not require titles for all trailers – what is required depends on the trailer's weight and type. Utility trailers are categorized by whether a trailer manufacturer made them or they are homemade. The state further categorizes them by gross weight, which is the actual weight of the trailer plus what it can carry.
Some horse trailers do not need registration, and most do not require a title. However, this also depends on the trailer's weight and how the owner uses it.
Getting a Title Copy From the DMV
If a horse trailer has a title and the owner cannot locate it, they can apply for a certified copy through the DMV. To do this, they must:
- Complete and sign Application for a Certified Copy of Title (Form VTR-34).
- Include a copy of their photo ID with a $2 mail-in fee by check, cashier's check or money order made payable to the DMV.
- Provide a letter of signature authority from agent or lien holder on official letterhead with a business card or copy of the agent's employee identification. If there is a lien, the DMV requires a letter of an original release of the lien.
- Mail the application, payment and supporting documents to: Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, 1601 Southwest Parkway, Suite A, Wichita Falls, TX 76302.
To apply in person, the DMV encourages the trailer owner to make an appointment through the TxDMV Regional Service Center, which they can do online. Once at the DMV location, they must fill out the title application, sign it and present their supporting documents with a $5.45 payment made out to the DMV by check, cash or money order. Lien holders or an agent of the owner must provide a letter of signature authority on their official letterhead with a business card or copy of the agent's employee identification. If there is a lien, the DMV requires a letter of an original release of the lien.
Requirements for a Farm Trailer Title
A horse trailer may not require a title or registration – trailers under 4,000 pounds are exempt from needing both. Trailers between 4,000 and 34,000 pounds do not need a title but do need registration. They also qualify for farm trailer license plates, which apply to farm trailers and semitrailers that transport livestock from a farm to a processing plant or market, or participate in equine activities. Titles are optional under 34,000 pounds – if the trailer owner wants one, they must apply for it through the DMV and pay the applicable fee.
A horse trailer with at least 34,000 pounds in gross weight must have a title and registration. It does not qualify for farm trailer plates. Additional titling requirements for trailers of this weight vary from county to county. Owners should contact their county tax assessor's office to ask about specific documentation and fees. Farm trailers that do not have farm trailer plates must go through an inspection. The county tax assessor may require a horse trailer owner to provide a weight certificate or trailer photo in some cases.
Titling and Registering a Horse Trailer
The applicant must title and register their horse trailer through their local county tax assessor's office. They must:
- Show evidence of ownership, which can be in the form of a Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin, a bill of sale, a title or an out-of-state registration receipt.
- Fill out a Title and/or Registration Application (Form 130-U) and check the box reading "non-titled" if they are not applying for a title and only registering the trailer.
- Complete a Trailer Verification Statement of Fact (Form VTR-141). The DMV requires this form if the trailer is homemade.
- Show a weight certificate, if applicable. The DMV requires weight certificates for out-of-state trailers unless they show their empty weight on an out-of-state title or a Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin.
- Show a current driver license or a government-issued identification.
- Show proof of current inspection, if applicable. Owners can take the trailer to any state inspection station in their county of residence
official stations have a "TL" or "TLMC" endorsement. Owners typically show proof of insurance at the time of inspection.
- Pay titling fees. Owners should contact the local county tax assessor's office for approved payment methods and the exact fee amount.
Obtaining a 17-digit VIN
Not having a VIN number is typical for homemade trailers. However, when titling a trailer, the DMV requires one. To get a trailer VIN, an owner must get an inspection provided by trained law enforcement officers and fill out Inspection Form VTR-68-A, then bring the completed form to their nearby DMV service center to be assigned a 17-character VIN.
- Texas DMV: Trailers
- Texas DMV: Application for a Certified Copy of Title
- Texas DMV: Application for Farm License Plates
- Texas DMV: Application for Texas Title and/or Registration
- Texas DMV: Trailer Verification Statement of Fact
- Texas Department of Public Safety: Inspection Station Locator
- Texas Department of Public Safety: Farm Registration
- Texas DMV: Get a Copy of Your Vehicle Title
- Texas DMV: I Just Purchased a Trailer. How Do I Title/Register My Trailer?
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.