How to Register a Boat Trailer in North Carolina

How to Register a Boat Trailer in North Carolina

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The money raised by the Highway Use Tax you pay to title and tag a boat trailer substitutes for a state sales tax. Registering your boat is a simple matter of filling out forms and paying fees. Registration for boat trailers is a privilege limited to North Carolina residents, with few exceptions. While standing in line waiting to register a boat trailer is hardly the way you expect to spend your precious boating time, like caring for a dinged hull or "nursing her" through a stretch of river populated with sandbars, it's part of boating.

    Go to the Vehicle and License Plate Renewal Office in the county where you are a resident. You are required to present a North Carolina driver's license or North Carolina state-issued identification card to register the trailer unless you are active-duty military personnel stationed in North Carolina or a college student attending school in North Carolina.

    Complete the "Title Application (MVR-1)" form and present it to the Vehicle and License Plate Renewal Office. This form asks for you to declare all liens and sign certifying that you're financially responsible for the trailer. This form requires a notary.

    Present a completed "Damage Disclosure Statement (MVR-181)" form for the trailer, as well, even if you add "N/A" or "Not Applicable" in the blanks where necessary. If you purchase the trailer from a dealer, you must also fill out the "Eligible Risk Statement for Registration and Certificate of Title (MVR-615)" form. These forms are available online at the NCDOT-Division of Motor Vehicles website as a PDF file.

    Pay the title fee, the license plate fee, the Regional Transportation Authority Registration Tax for Vehicles Registered in Wake, Durham and Orange Counties, if applicable, and the Highway Use Tax. As of September 2017, the Highway Use Tax for trailers is 3 percent of the trailer's purchase price.

    Items you will need

    • North Carolina identification

    • Form MVR-1, Title Application

    • Form MVR-181, Damage Disclosure Statement

    • Form MVR-615, Eligible Risk Statement for Registration and Certificate of Title


    • You are required to register boat trailers within 30 days of your acquisition of the trailer.

      The exceptions to the North Carolina identification rules also allow the registration of the trailer without North Carolina identification for the court-ordered sale of the trailer or if there is more than one owner.

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