If you’re in the market for a trailer for your jet skis, you’re probably wondering what the paperwork will look like. This is especially true when purchasing second-hand—do you need to secure a title from the previous owner?
Some states require titles for trailers, whereas others do not. Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Hawaii, Oklahoma, and Tennessee do not require titles. Other states require them unconditionally, whereas the rest require trailer titles on a conditional basis. Check your state’s requirements to be sure.
In the rest of this article, we will take a closer look at these requirements, state by state. Our guide will help you understand the weight limits and other restrictions that may apply in your region. We will also see a few tips for when you’re purchasing your jet ski trailer second-hand.
Titling Requirements by State
The titling requirements vary from state to state, with some states requiring titles depending on the size or weight of your trailer. Others will factor in the age of manufacture. Some states simply never require a title at all.
To get you started, we have compiled an at-a-glance list of states that require titles, require them under certain circumstances, or do not require them at all. You will want to dive a bit more in-depth into your particular state and situation, but this guide will get you started.
States That Unconditionally Require Titles for Trailers
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- Washington (State)
- Washington (DC)
- West Virginia
States That Conditionally Require Titles for Trailers
- Connecticut: Titles are not required if the weight is below 3000 pounds (about 1360 kilograms). A title is required for weight above 3000 pounds (about 1360 kilograms).
- Florida: Titles are not required if the weight is below 2000 pounds (about 907 kilograms). A title is required for weight above 2000 pounds (about 907 kilograms).
- Iowa: Titles are not required if the weight is below 2000 pounds (about 907 kilograms). A title is required for weight above 2000 pounds (about 907 kilograms).
- Kansas: Titles are not required if the weight is below 2000 pounds (about 907 kilograms). A title is required for weight above 2000 pounds (about 907 kilograms).
- Maine: If the trailer was made in the last 15 years and is over 3000 pounds (about 1360 kilograms), a title is required.
- Massachusetts: Titles are not required if the weight is below 3000 pounds (about 1360 kilograms). A title is required for weight above 3000 pounds (about 1360 kilograms).
- Michigan: A title is required if your trailer is 20 feet (6.1 m) or longer in length.
- New Hampshire: If the trailer was made in the last 15 years and is over 3000 pounds (about 1360 kilograms), a title is required.
- New Jersey: Titles are not required if the weight is below 2500 pounds (about 1134 kilograms). A title is required for weight above 2500 pounds (about 1134 kilograms).
- New York: Titles are not required if the weight is below 1000 pounds (about 454 kilograms). A title is required for weight above 1000 pounds (about 454 kilograms).
- Ohio: Titles are not required if the weight is below 4000 pounds (about 1814 kilograms). A title is required for weight above 4000 pounds (about 1814 kilograms).
- Rhode Island: If the trailer was made in the last 10 years and is over 3000 pounds (about 1360 kilograms), a title is required.
- South Carolina: Titles are not required if the weight is below 2500 pounds (about 1134 kilograms). A title is required for weight above 2500 pounds (about 1134 kilograms).
- Texas: Titles are not required if the weight is below 4000 pounds (about 1814 kilograms). A title is required for weight above 4000 pounds (about 1814 kilograms).
- Utah: Titles are not required if the weight is below 750 pounds (about 340 kilograms). A title is required for weight above 750 pounds (about 340 kilograms).
- Wisconsin: Titles are not required if the weight is below 3000 pounds (about 1360 kilograms). A title is required for weight above 3000 pounds (about 1360 kilograms).
States That Do Not Require Titles for Trailers
- Alabama: Only registration is required
- Alaska: Only registration is required
- Hawaii: Only registration is required
What These Regulations Mean to You
Keep in mind that if you’re purchasing a jet ski trailer second-hand, you will also want to check where the seller has it titled or registered. If the seller bought the trailer in a state where they don’t title these kinds of vehicles, you might have a longer process ahead of you to title in your state without a title from the previous owner.
If you live in a state where the title is required, you will need the seller of the trailer to turn it over to you when you purchase it. If the seller says they don’t have it, they need to apply for a lost title and follow the proper procedures at the local Department of Motor Vehicles. When this process is complete, then the trailer can be officially and legitimately sold.
However, if you are looking into purchasing a used trailer and the seller says they never received a title, this could also be legitimate. As you can see from the list, there are many states that don’t issue titles for certain kinds of lightweight trailers. You will want to research the state where you reside and make your purchase to better understand what is required.
How to Title Your Jet Ski Trailer
If titling or registering your jet ski is required in your state, you will need to gather more specific information to begin the process. Titling and registering your jet ski trailer will likely be done at your local motor vehicle office. To get started with this procedure, you can try looking up the needed documents on your state-specific motor vehicle website.
Perform a search query for your state and “register my jet ski trailer.” This should lead you to the most useful webpage on your local DMV to get started. You will be able to see the necessary documents, in-depth conditions as well as any required fees. You can also try visiting the office for more information or placing a phone call during business hours.
Once you have more information about the required forms and fees, you will want to gather everything needed for the process. Double-check the approved methods for submitting payment as well as any other specific guidelines. The better prepared you are before you submit your paperwork, the smoother the process should be.
Homemade Jet Ski Trailers
If you have modified an existing trailer or built your own trailer from scratch, registering it and titling it will be a slightly different process. While it varies from state to state, the process can involve several steps.
For example, New York requires you to officially weigh the trailer in order to get your Vehicle Identification Numbers (more commonly known as a VIN). At the DMV, you will need to present the weight slip, receipts for the materials used to construct your trailer, as well as a few specified forms.
Once you get your VIN, you will need to officially mark your trailer with it through an approved and permanent process. After this step is complete, you will need to present your identification as well as the relevant fees to get the license plate and official documents for your trailer. You will have a short time period after the documents have been issued for your trailer to pass an official safety inspection.
What To Look For in a Jet Ski Trailer
When you’re shopping for a brand new or a new-to-you trailer, there are a few features to keep in mind. While these may bump up the price of the trailer, there are some features that may just be worth the extra cost. Let’s take a look at some features that have been highly praised by consumers.
Built-In Retractable Ratchet Straps
Having your retractable ratchet straps built in your jet ski trailer can be an incredibly handy feature. When these are built-in, you always have the straps you need ready to secure your jet ski to your trailer. You never need to carry extra straps or worry about where you’ve put them. These straps are always coiled up and secured on the frame of your trailer, ready to be used.
They can also be more secure than your regular straps. These built-in straps only have one hook since the other end of the strap is permanently attached to your trailer. Regular straps will have two hooks, meaning two different spots where a hook could come loose.
If you have the option to purchase your second-hand jet ski trailer with these built-in straps, you will likely be thanking yourself later due to their ease and security.
Frame Mounted Trailer Wiring
When you get a trailer with frame-mounted wiring, all of the essential wiring will be secured inside the frame of your trailer. Being securely inside the metal frame protects it from the elements and other wear and tear from usage.
Your wiring will power all the lights of your trailer, like the brake lights, turn signals, and any additional parking lights you might have. By keeping the wiring protected and safe, you will have minimal issues with your trailer lights. The safer your wires are, the more protected your lighting fixtures will be.
Aluminum Wheels and Oversized Tires
It will cost you a little extra, but choosing a second-hand jet ski trailer with aluminum wheels and tires can make a big difference to the lifespan of your trailer.
If you’re making regular trips to saltwater, you will want the aluminum to protect your trailer from corrosion. Additionally, the oversized tires are tough to withstand use on rough terrains and shouldn’t require much maintenance. You won’t need to fill them up with air as often as you would need to for more sensitive, smaller tires.
These wheels and tires are also a huge advantage when it comes to getting on the highway. If you’re looking to go at full highway speed while maintaining maneuverability, these tires won’t let you down.
If you are buying your trailer second-hand, you will want to carefully inspect your tires upon purchasing. If they look worn down, you will want to replace them before loading up your jet skis and hitting the road.
Single, Double, and Fully Enclosed Options
You can find jet ski trailers that hold different numbers of jet skis. If you just have one jet ski you are looking to transport, you can find a smaller trailer that just fits a single jet ski. Single jet ski trailers are lower in price than the larger options. They also don’t need titles in many states since they are below the weight limit.
If you have two jet skis or want to be able to load up a friend’s for a weekend out of town, you will want to look at the larger trailers. Many trailers have two parallel spaces for a pair of jet skis. You can easily load the two side by side and hit the road for an adventure with friends or family.
If you are looking for a more advanced option, you might think about a fully enclosed trailer. These trailers will weigh more and will likely need a title if you live in a state with weight restrictions. However, these will offer the most protection for your jet skis as you transport them through all terrain and weather conditions.
For a more in-depth guide on buying a second-hand jet ski trailer, you can check out this informational video on Youtube:
If you are in the market for a jet ski trailer, many factors will contribute to the registration and titling process. Each state has different regulations. Some states require a title no matter what, while others will look at your trailer’s size, age, or weight to make the final decision. Some states require no title, no matter what.
Check the local regulations to understand what your state expects of you in terms of titling your trailer. Remember to check the regulations for the seller’s state if buying a trailer across state lines.