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Old 06-19-2007, 07:04 PM   #1
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What is the "legal way" to get a new to you trailer home?

Howdy All,

Was talking with my dad tonight on this topic, and I don't have a good answer.

Let's say you go buy a used trailer from a guy a couple states away. What is the legal way to get it home?

I'd dare say what many of us do is just take the plate off one of our current trailers, stick it on it, then haul it home. Go see the DMV the next day and get all the paperwork taken care of. But somehow I wonder if the gendarmes would appreciate this?

In WV, you can get a one way transport tag. But that's only good in state. What if you are crossing a few states to get your new Stream home? What is the legal way to do it, assuming you bought it from an individual and not a dealership that can do whatever paperwork they do and issue you a temporary tag? And say the PO lives nowhere near a DMV?

Is there an easy way?

- Jim
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Old 06-19-2007, 07:07 PM   #2
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From what I understand, the bill of sale should be your "tag." The previous owner should retain the plates unless their state says otherwise.

If anyone knows any different, please chime in!


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Old 06-19-2007, 07:12 PM   #3
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In Florida, it is a felony to switch license plates, so be aware if you do this here, and get caught, it could really ruin your vacation. Again, in Florida, the legal way is to go to the DMV (county tax collector), get the title transferred, with a 30 day temporary tag. You will pay the local sales tax, and if your state shares reciprocity with Florida, you will only pay the difference between Florida (6%) and your state.
I have learned, at least here, it is better to have no tag, than the wrong tag, so if the DMV is not open (weekends or holidays, or after hours), I just make sure the title is completely filled out and dated, and drag the thing home with no tag at all. I have only been stopped once, and the properly filled out paperwork saved me a ticket.
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Old 06-19-2007, 07:19 PM   #4
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In CA, there's a "one trip permit" for such instances.
I bought one from the DMV, it is good until you finish your trip. I pasted it in the rear window of the Overlander, and merrily towed it home from Seattle to LA.
This was exactly what the CA DMV recommended. I asked them about states such as WA and OR, which I had to travel in, and they said that if it's going to be a CA trailer, then it needs a CA trip permit. Worked fine, I kept a copy of it and could prove that the traielr was not moved illegally on public roads without registration etc. The trip permit covers all that.
But that's California, your state might have different laws.
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Old 06-19-2007, 07:25 PM   #5
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I towed my 1964 boat back home in 1994 (325 miles) with the 1984 plate on it. Ran passed many John Q Laws...none gave me a wink, nod or was pulled over for it.

I did have a bill of sale stating it was just purchased, but never used it.
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Old 06-19-2007, 07:28 PM   #6
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Jim, I have a friend that is a state trooper and he told me to never take a tag off of another vehicle to move it. When we picked up our Argosy in Virginia and brought it to Ontario I just towed it without a tag. We were passed by two state troopers in West Virginia (my home state) and one in PA. I don't think they pay as much attention to that as much as they use to. Customs didn't even say anything about it not having a tag.

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Old 06-19-2007, 07:38 PM   #7
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In NH you can get 15 day temp plates with a bill of sale and the vehicle ID number.
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Old 06-19-2007, 07:46 PM   #8
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Keeping / returning the plates varies from state to state - Idaho the person retains the plates, Washington the vehicle retains the plates.

I would dare say that if you purchased a trip permit in the state you are picking it up in, that would be good enough for most officers that might stop you along the way.

Bad advice maybe, but I just hooked up and towed it from Oregon to Washington without a permit of any sort. I figured if I got stopped that the title + bill of sale would let me talk my way out of any trouble. I never got stopped to test that theory
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Old 06-19-2007, 07:49 PM   #9
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Texas sells a one trip ticket..but they want specific route. They also sell a thirty day tag with almost no paperwork at all which is good all over. I was stopped last week in Louisiana with a paper tag, but they were happy to see the TX paper work and said I was good to go. Meanwhile I am still working on the title for my old beast with a less than helpful PO. Should be ok soon.
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Old 06-19-2007, 07:56 PM   #10
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What is the "legal way" to get a new to you trailer home?

Greetings Jim!

Both of my trailers were purchased in another state as have several of my cars, and my first stop was my local DMV to determine what documentation they woulld require from that state to issue a title and license plate in my name. One clerk in my local DMV office suggested that I ask the owner to accompany me to their local DMV to obtain a temporary or transit permit -- this, so the theory goes, makes sure that you have the necessary documentation to change ownership in that state. Thus far, it has worked flawlessly each time -- and I know that when Murphy's Law calls, I will have the proper documents and permits to avoid a ticket.

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Old 06-19-2007, 09:07 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by JimGolden
... Is there an easy way?
Depends. If the Airstream is short enough, retrive it on a properly licensed flatbed trailer so the Airstream is cargo, not a towed trailer. Have a signed and dated certificate of title and a signed and dated bill of sale from the seller in your pocket. And you don't have to worry about tires, wheel bearings, lights, etc., etc. Now that's the easy way.
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Old 06-19-2007, 09:52 PM   #12
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In Georgia, all you need is the Bil Of Sale to tow it home. I would think that the laws of your home state, where you intend to title the vehicle, would matter most. Your state DMV can fill in the blanks.


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Old 06-19-2007, 10:06 PM   #13
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I would try to get a temp (paper) tag from the state you are buying it in. If that was not practcal, I would just pull it hime without a tag. We took our first trip in Lucy with the tag from my car trailer. The dealer hadn't gotten me Lucy's tag in time.
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Old 06-19-2007, 10:34 PM   #14
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Find out if the legal way is also not too cumbersome and hopefully your hometown DMV folks can assist you. If not, check out the DMV's website for the state you are acquiring the trailer in to see if it says there what is required. Stuff happens and as we saw recently someone towing a later 90's home without insurance totaled it and they were out the cash. If it looks like it is going to be a big issue then I would take the chance, but that's what I'd do, not what I recommend to others. I just spoke to a buddy today who's tags expired last November and he's been out and about quite a bit and no one, including he, noticed.

We picked a trailer up in WA state a few weeks back and brought it up to BC. The PO picked up a 3 day travel permit but put it in the name of the purchaser. That allowed us to get it to the border and from there the 15 minutes home although in BC we were required to go to the closest DMV to the border to get it registered and tagged.


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