Owners of some of almost 600,000 travel trailers, boat trailers and utility trailers registered with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles will get a surprise when they next receive notice that it’s time to renew that annual trailer registration. According to a report by the Houston Chronicle, some will learn they have been violating a law of which many were not aware.

Included in renewal notices sent to owners of trailers with registration expiring this month and later will be notification that the trailer is required to have passed a safety inspection at a state-certified vehicle inspection station within 90 days prior to the new registration sticker’s being issued. No proof of safety inspection, no renewal of registration.

This will be the first time many owners learn their trailer falls under Texas’ annual safety inspection requirements, the same as most vehicles used on Texas public roads.

“Some trailer owners haven’t been aware of the safety inspection requirement,” said Candy Southerland, management analyst with Texas DMV . “I’ve even talked with trailer dealers who were surprised when they learned certain trailers fall under the inspection requirements.”

Texas law has for decades required annual safety inspection of trailers with a gross weight (weight of the trailer plus its carrying capacity or actual load) of more than 4,500 pounds. That includes travel trailers, most dual-axle boat trailers, and many larger utility trailers such as those hunters use to haul tractors, ATVs, blinds and other equipment to hunting leases.

But because Texas’ vehicle safety inspection process was separate from the vehicle registration process, vehicle owners could renew either without proof of complying with the other. And while Texans have been almost universally aware of the requirement of getting an annual safety inspection of their car, truck or motorcycle, many were unaware of the requirement for their trailers.


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