What To Do With A Trailer With No Title

Posted By: Jennifer Downie
Post Date: 06/14/2012

Revised 02/11/20

***  The information here is for residents of PA. If you are in another state, please refer to your local DMV for the exact rules and regulations. ***

PA DMV logo

You're checking out a trailer from Craigslist but there’s no title. Or you inherited an old trailer from a relative but there’s no title. So, what do you do? If the trailer was previously registered, the original owner should request a duplicate title from the DMV. However if not, be weary, it could be stolen. 

If the trailer in question was a pre-manufactured trailer, this process does not apply. If there is a VIN number, if it is a cargo trailer or if it has a manufacturer's logo on it, then it is obviously a pre-manufacturered trailer and will not pass the DMV's process. PA DMV will not pass the enhanced inspection process on manufacturered trailers. Perhaps the original owner should try contacting the manufacturer for a duplicate Certificate of Origin.

So, let’s say your grandfather had an old home built trailer laying around, and you decided you could really put that to good use.  Or you bought a kit trailer from a box store.  Either way, these are good trailers.  But…. they need to be safe, road ready, and inspected to be on the roads here in Pennsylvania. 

A trailer that isn’t safe will not pass a PA state inspection.  It will need to be road worthy with all the proper DOT lighting, good tires, you know the deal.  Assuming all that is in-check, you will need to gather all the proper documents.  In PA, you are required to show proof of purchase.  And receipts of all work completed on the trailer. The state wants to know if tax was collected on the trailer.  If you have an out-of-state salvage title, please go to the PA DMV and  have them transfer it to a PA state salvage title.  It must be transfered to a PA title before we can proceed as well.  

Next, you will have to get the trailer weighed.  PA has a variety of places with a certified weight scale.  Truck stops, recycle centers, and even the local stone or mulch supplier should have one.  The important thing to remember here is that you need the weight of the trailer only.  Make sure you unhook the trailer from the truck while getting the certified weight. The state of Pennsylvania has made it clear that they will only accept the actual weight of just the trailer. 

On the Penn Dot website, you can find a list of inspection stations that can do enhanced inspections.  That is what they call the process of titling a vehicle or a trailer with out a title (and in some cases of cars, a salvage title).  This process is also referred to as an MV426 inspection, referring to the forms that have to be filled out.  There is a special course the mechanics must pass in order to do these inspections.

Once your trailer and paperwork are taken to an inspection station, here is what you might expect.  I am speaking from what happens here at our shop, keep in mind, that it will vary from place to place.  First, we collect all of the necessary paperwork and state forms. Signatures will be required from you and our mechanic. Then, we inspect the trailer.  Everything has to work, and be DOT legal and road worthy.  Pictures are taken, and when it is all said and done, you would leave here with a packet of papers that you can then take to the local DMV building to finish the process.  Once the paperwork is processed at the state, a VIN # will be issued for your trailer, as well as a good free and clear title.  Tags can also be issued, and everything will be good to go for towing on the open road.

The Pennsylvania DMV just wants to make sure that the trailers out there on the road are safe.  If you follow guidelines above, and get all your ducks in a row, this process really isn’t all that bad.  Remember that the information provided here is for Pennsylvania. Call your local DMV with any questions.

Don't go through the hassle of buying a trailer without a title. 

Just purchase a new trailer from AJ's. We handle the tags and everything right here. No need to deal with the DMV.  We make it easy!


Questions? Call AJ's Truck & Trailer Center Now.

717-671-9115 • 844-673-7668

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