Ohio State Regulations for Boat Trailers

Ohio State Regulations for Boat Trailers

Explore America's Campgrounds

The state of Ohio requires all noncommercial trailers, including boat trailers, to be registered if they are going to be on Ohio roads. Before registering the trailer and getting your license plates, you must get a weight card from your registrar and have the trailer weighed.


There is no one single registration fee for boat trailers, which fall under the category of noncommercial trailers. Instead, fees vary from $12 to $49 based on trailer weight and the month renewed. Registrations expire annually on your birthday. Local jurisdictions can also add "permissive fees" in addition to the amount collected by the state. To find the registration fees in your area, contact your local deputy registrar. A list of registrars can be found on the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles website.

Ohio Form BMV 5712 is required for registration and is available online. Disabled veterans, former prisoners of war and Medal of Honor awardees qualify for free registration by filling out form BMV 4526.


Trailers that weigh more than 4,000 pounds must have a title. Titles should be transferred when the trailer is purchased. For more information on titling your boat trailer, or for information about how to request a replacement title, see the Ohio BMV's website. Boat trailers under 4,000 pounds are not required to be titled: Only the license and registration are needed.


All boat trailers need to have working brake lights and reflectors. Trailers need to connect to the towing vehicle with a tow bar capable of supporting the trailer's weight with the boat. Boat trailers exceeding 3,000 pounds are required to have a hydraulic or electric braking system.

No one under the age of 16 can ride in the back of any trailer going more than 25 miles per hour at any time except in certain emergencies. No one of any age can hang on the outside of any trailer while it is in motion. All loads need to be secured, so no material can fly out of the trailer.


Before getting to the ramp, prepare the boat by removing all tie-downs except for the bow winch. Make sure all rope lines are attached and easily accessible. Go through a prelaunch checklist to make sure you have all necessary safety equipment.

When ready to launch, get into a lane to the boat ramp. Ohio state parks allow only the driver of the towing vehicle in the vehicle during launching and loading. Back slowly down the ramp until the cooling intakes are covered. Start the boat's engine and let it warm up so it doesn't stall. When the engine is warm, unhook the winch and ease the boat off the trailer. Do not tie off on the ramp. Move the boat to a nearby area and wait for the towing vehicle operator to return.

Loading the Boat Onto the Trailer

Drop off the driver to get the towing vehicle. Do not tie up to the ramp until the towing vehicle has arrived.

Once the driver has backed the trailer into the water, either the boat operator can slowly maneuver the boat onto the trailer, or you can use the bow winch to pull the boat onto the trailer. Pull the trailer off the ramp and into the parking lot before completely stowing the boat to allow other boaters to use the ramp.

Gone Outdoors