Asking Permission First

Before I spend thousands of dollars on a trailer, I want to make sure I’ll be able to register and tow what I’m going to build on top of it.

So, I printed a picture of a tiny house that resembles what I want and took a trip to the local RMV (Registry of Motor Vehicles).

Questions and Answers:

Q: Do I need a special license to tow a 23 foot trailer?

A: It goes by weight, not length. 4501kg (9923lbs) and up requires condition 15 on your license, which means you’d have to do a road test with the trailer to prove you can safely tow it.

Q: What will it cost to register the trailer?

A: There are different prices for different weights. 1500kg (3306lbs) or less is $44.75 per year.

Q: I want to build on top of the trailer, what would it cost then?

A: $162.10 per year is the most it would cost before you get into commercial weights, prices, and time periods. Anything above 5100kg (11243lbs) is considered commercial.

Q: Do I need a special certification to build on top of the trailer?

A: If you’re altering the trailer – no, I’m not – then for building on top, that’s not my department. Contact our office and ask for Vehicle Compliance.

Q: What about a license plate? I’m picking up the trailer from New Brunswick.

A: You’d have to get a temporary plate from the RMV in New Brunswick. Also, since you’re getting it from New Brunswick, you need to find out if they’re charging you tax or if you’ll pay tax when you bring it back here.

I didn’t even need the picture, in the end. I’m crossing my fingers that the estimate the trailer company gave me included tax, because I can’t afford for this trailer to be any more expensive than it already is.

I went home and called the toll free number on the business card I was given. I was transferred to Vehicle Compliance, and she gave me the number of someone who should be able to tell me if I’m allowed to build what I want or not.

I called him, and he gave me the phone number of the office who should be able to answer my questions.

I called the number and got the woman I had just talked to. She transferred me to someone else, who gave me the phone numbers of someone to tell me about passing inspection and someone to tell me about getting it registered for the road.

I called the former first, and he told me that they don’t care what I put on top of the trailer as long as the trailer passes inspection with the correct brakes, chains, etc. But then he said that after I build on top of the trailer, I’ll need to get it inspected at a motor vehicle inspection station, and take the paperwork from that to the RMV to register it. The main thing I’ll need is lights because apparently campers need lights on the front, back, and top. Also, since I’m getting a custom trailer, he said that the trailer company should give me a NVIS, a New Vehicle Information Statement, so I’ll have to make sure I get that.

I called the last guy, but he won’t be back in the office until Monday, so I left my name and number with the person who answered the phone and he’ll be calling me back.

Several people I talked to emphasized two things: the trailer needs to have the correct brakes, and if I was altering the trailer it’d be a whole different thing. I’ve already researched the brakes the law requires, and the trailer company has already told me that they automatically come with every trailer. As for altering the trailer itself, I guess it’s a good thing I’m having the trailer company do every bit of the welding. I suppose it makes sense that they don’t want people changing trailers and potentially making them unsafe.

I need to figure out how much everything is going to weigh, because if I can, I want to keep the weight low enough that I can tow it without a condition on my license, and I definitely don’t want it to be high enough to be considered commercial.

Ultimately, I’m still not sure what the inspectors look for or if I need to do paperwork beforehand. I just don’t want to fail the inspection when it’s too late to change anything.

I also made an appointment with the local guy who knows all about the National Building Code, so look for a post about that next week!


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"It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan." - Eleanor Roosevelt

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