Do Trailers Need License Plates In Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, all trailers must have license plates. This rule applies to both large and small trailers. The plates help identify the trailer. They are required for legal use on roads. To get a plate, trailer owners must register with the DMV.

In Wisconsin, it’s important to know the rules about trailers and license plates. Do you wonder if your trailer needs a license plate? The state requires that most trailers have proper registration and plates. This ensures that your trailer is legally recognized on the road. Stay informed and compliant to avoid any issues while towing in Wisconsin.

License Plate Requirements for Trailers in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, most types of trailers are required to have license plates. This section of the article provides a detailed overview of these requirements. The table below summarizes the key information for quick reference.

Trailer TypeLicense Plate RequiredNotes
Utility TrailersYes
Boat TrailersYesDepending on weight
Recreational TrailersYesIncludes RV trailers
Commercial TrailersYesSubject to additional regulations

why Trailers Need License Plates In Wisconsin

Trailers need license plates in Wisconsin for several key reasons. First, license plates help in identifying the trailer for legal and security purposes. If a trailer is involved in a traffic incident or is stolen, the license plate makes it easier to track and recover. Secondly, registering a trailer and obtaining a license plate ensures that it meets the state’s safety and environmental standards. This is crucial for maintaining safe roads.

The registration process involves paying a fee, which contributes to state revenue, often used for road maintenance and public safety initiatives. In essence, requiring license plates for trailers in Wisconsin, including when you register a trailer without title in Wisconsin, is about ensuring safety, accountability, and contributing to the state’s infrastructure and services.

What is the trailer law in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, the trailer law mandates that fifth wheel, travel trailers, RV trailers, or boat trailers over 3,000 pounds require titles and plates. Any trailer used for hire or rental, regardless of weight, needs to be titled and plated. Mobile homes less than 45 feet long used on roadways also need titles and plates.

However, manufactured and mobile homes over 45 feet long do not require plates from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. If you’re using a temporary undercarriage for transporting manufactured homes, it doesn’t need a title, but must display a Transferable Trailer license plate registered to the transporter​​.

How much does it cost to license a trailer in Wisconsin?

Licensing a trailer in Wisconsin involves various fees depending on the type of trailer and its use. For recreational vehicle trailers, the annual registration fee is $15. However, the fees for other types of trailers, such as those used for commercial purposes, may vary based on factors like the trailer’s weight.

It’s important to note that these fees are part of the annual registration process and are subject to change, so it’s recommended to check the latest information on the Wisconsin DMV website for the most accurate and up-to-date fee structure​​​​​​.

Wisconsin trailer registration fees

  • Autocycle = $45
  • Automobile = $85
  • Motorcycle and mopeds = $23 (biennial)
  • Recreational vehicle trailer = $15
  • Special design vehicle = $5

Vehicle registration fee chart

                                                (Annual fees are shown)
​​ ​

Vehicle gross wgt. not over (lbs.)
Truck, bus, road tractor, dual purpose vehicle dual purpose farm​​Trailer​Truck tractorDairy, raw forest productsTruck Truck tractor​​Farm truck​Farm trailer, dairy trailer, raw forest prod. trailer, spec. “Z” Farm truck tract​or​Spec. “UX”​Motor home
​All numbers in these columns are dollar amounts  ​
​​A​4,500​$100.00$50.00           $26.00$44.00$25.00           $18.00
​​                     12,000 lbs. gross weight farm trucks are registered biennially ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​​ ​ ​

1. Motor Truck and Trailer Fees: Calculated based on the gross weight of the vehicle, including its load.

2. Truck Tractor Fees: Determined by the gross weight of the combined unit, including the tractor, semi-trailer, and load.

3. Motor Home and Bus Fees: Based on the gross weight of the vehicle, including property and passengers.

4. Additional Fees for Certain Vehicles: Vehicles with automobile or truck registration weighing 8,000 lbs. or less (except dual purpose farm registration) may incur extra charges.

  • Wheel Tax: Depends on where the vehicle is primarily kept.
  • $75 Hybrid Electric Vehicle Surcharge: For hybrid electric vehicles.
  • $175 Electric Vehicle Surcharge: For electric vehicles.

Do trailers need insurance in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, while it’s not mandatory for trailers to have their own separate insurance policy, it’s highly recommended. The reason for this is that while your auto insurance policy may extend liability coverage to your trailer while it’s being towed, this coverage typically does not include physical damage to the trailer itself. Here are some key points to consider regarding trailer insurance in Wisconsin.

Liability Coverage

Most auto insurance policies will extend the liability coverage to your trailer when it’s being towed. However, this usually only covers liability for damages or injuries your trailer might cause to others, not damages to the trailer itself.

Physical Damage Coverage

To protect your trailer from physical damage due to an accident, theft, vandalism, or weather-related incidents, you may need to add specific physical damage coverage. This is often done through a rider or endorsement to your existing auto policy or through a separate trailer insurance policy.

Separate Policy for Expensive Trailers

If you have an expensive or specialized trailer, like a horse trailer with living quarters, it might be wise to consider a separate trailer insurance policy that offers more comprehensive coverage.

Content Coverage

If you carry valuable items in your trailer, you may need additional coverage for the contents, as standard policies might not cover personal property inside the trailer.

Commercial Trailers: If the trailer is used for commercial purposes, it may require a separate commercial trailer insurance policy.

How do I license a trailer in Wisconsin?

To license a trailer in Wisconsin, you need to follow a few key steps. If your trailer’s combined weight with an ATV exceeds 3,000 lbs, it requires titling. For this, you need to send.

  • The original Certificate of Title or Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (MSO), signed by the dealer or previous owner.
  • A completed Wisconsin Title and License Plate Application (Form MV1).
  • License plate fees, if applicable (note that plates stay with the trailer).
  • A title fee based on the trailer’s weight.
  • The applicable sales tax and any local sales tax, if relevant.
  • Payment via check or money order made out to the Registration Fee Trust.
  • Mail all these documents to the address provided on the form.

For homemade trailers, the process includes submitting

  • A completed and signed Wisconsin Title & License Plates form MV1 (make sure to keep a copy for your records).
  • All relevant fees for title, registration, taxes, etc.
  • A check or money order made payable to Registration Fee Trust.
  • A written statement explaining how you built or acquired the trailer. If you built the trailer, original receipts/invoices for the parts used are needed, showing that sales tax was paid.


Understanding Wisconsin’s trailer regulations is essential for legal and safe towing. All trailers, including utility, boat, recreational, and commercial, must be registered and equipped with license plates. This ensures they are identifiable and meet safety and environmental standards. 

Fees for licensing vary based on the trailer type and usage, contributing to state infrastructure and public safety initiatives. While insurance for trailers isn’t mandatory, it’s advisable for comprehensive coverage. To license a trailer, owners must submit necessary documentation and fees to the DMV. Staying informed and compliant with these regulations is crucial for all trailer owners in Wisconsin, ensuring road safety and legal adherence.


How much does it cost to license a trailer in Wisconsin?

A trailer license plate costs $50 per year in Wisconsin.

Why is there a hybrid surcharge in Wisconsin?

The hybrid surcharge in Wisconsin is imposed to ensure that owners of hybrid vehicles, which typically consume less fuel and therefore pay less in fuel taxes, contribute fairly to the maintenance of public roadways.

Do campers need to be registered in Wisconsin?

Yes, campers must be registered in Wisconsin.

Do I need to register my boat trailer in Wisconsin?

Yes, boat trailers must be registered in Wisconsin, especially if they exceed certain weight limits.

What is wheel tax Wisconsin?

The wheel tax in Wisconsin is an additional local vehicle registration fee that some counties or municipalities may impose.

Do you need a front license plate in Wisconsin?

No, Wisconsin does not require a front license plate on vehicles; only a rear plate is required.

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