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Boat Trailer Registration

Boat Trailer Registration in Michigan: What You Need to Know

July 1, 2019

If you’re a boater, there’s nothing like a Michigan summer, with thousands of lakes and waterways to explore. While you may have registered your boat, you may not realize your trailer must be registered, too. Here’s what you need to know about boat trailer registration requirements in Michigan.   

How do I register a boat trailer?

Before taking your boat trailer on the road, you must register it and obtain a license plate. This can be done at any Secretary of State office.

If your trailer weighs more than 2,500 lbs. empty:

  • You must also obtain a title from the Secretary of State.
  • If you purchased a used trailer, bring the existing title to a Secretary of State office to have it transferred into your name.
  • You must submit the title application or transfer within 15 days of the date you purchased the trailer.

If your trailer weighs less than 2,500 lbs. empty, you will need the following:

  • For new trailers, you must present the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin or the retailer’s bill of sale (receipt).
  • For used trailers, you will need the bill of sale you received from the seller. Make sure it includes the following information:
    • Year the trailer was manufactured
    • Make of the trailer
    • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
    • Complete name and address of the seller
    • The empty weight of the trailer

What if I can’t find the weight of the trailer?

For new trailers, the weight is usually indicated on the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin.

For used trailers, the weight should be listed on the Michigan registration you received from the seller.

If the trailer weight is not available, you will need to have the trailer weighed on a certified scale. You can usually find certified scales at truck stops, grain elevators, scrap metal recyclers and junk yards. According to Michigan law, you are allowed to tow it to the closest certified scale without a license plate. You will need the scale weight receipt when you register your trailer with the Secretary of State.

How much does it cost to register a boat trailer?

To register or obtain a title for a boat trailer, owners have to pay a 6% use tax. This amount is based on the purchase price or retail value of the trailer, whichever is higher. However, if you bought the trailer from a retail seller and paid 6% sales tax, you are exempt from paying the use tax. You will need to present your bill of sale showing you paid the sales tax when you purchased the trailer.

In addition, you will have to pay a license plate fee when you register your boat trailer. This fee applies regardless of whether you are required to pay the 6% use tax.

The current fees are as follows:

Empty Weight: Plate Fee

  • Zero to 2,499 lbs. – $75
  • 2,500 to 9,999 lbs. – $200
  • 10,000 lbs. and over – $300

Do I have to renew my boat trailer registration every year?

No. You only need to register a boat trailer once. Unlike registrations and license plates for motor vehicles, boat trailer plates and registrations do not expire. Further, you cannot transfer the plates when you sell the trailer. The new owner will have to transfer the title, register the trailer and obtain their own license plate.

Boat trailer registration is complicated, but finding the right lawyer is simple.

Call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free, no-obligation consultation.