Getting your RV Hauler Registered in Texas
By: Jack Mayer
Texas is one of the states that allows HDT’s to be converted to motor homes, with a resulting motor home (MH) title. The benefits of this are:
- this generally lowers your insurance costs,
- makes for a compelling case for bypassing scales in most states,
- exempts you from the 20,000 lb bridge axle weight (it is 23,000 for motorhomes),
- exempts you from an air brake endorsement in Texas.
So for most people it is an attractive option.
If you are already domiciled in Texas it is pretty simple to do the registration either in person or by mail. To file by mail you have to be “out of state”, although no proof of that is required.
I’ve done a number of these registrations by mail in Polk County (home of the Escapees RV Club). This info is from my experience in that county. Polk County is a non-pollution test county. In pollution test counties the procedures may vary slightly.
The Polk County Tax Office phone number is 936-327-6801. You will be calling them once you have the forms prepared to get the rest of the fees due – you will not be able to complete the numbers without talking to them. You need all the items below, before calling. Plus, have your VIN number handy. When talking with them, verify that you have everything required. If you have something wrong with your applications they generally will NOT call you or email you, even if you have provided that information. They will send you a written request, which may take some time to reach you.
Also, you have thirty days to get your application in from the date on the Bill of Sale and title. They enforce this to the day – if you are beyond the thirty days you will have to pay the penalty fee. You might as well enclose it with your original paperwork, or you will be doing it later. You can protest it, and some people have been successful in doing so. But you have to go to/phone the state offices to do that. Polk cannot/will not waive the late fee.
You may also get a temporary registration from the Tax Office. You can get transport tags INTO Texas from out of state or for within TX on the DMV website. In most cases these can be done electronically, printed and used.
Items you need:
- If “out of state” you may file for an inspection exemption. If in-state you must get the truck inspected before application.
- You will need a weight ticket.
- If registering by mail, then a copy of your drivers license (and spouses license if both are on the title) and proof of insurance must be submitted with the paperwork.
- Pictures of the items required for conversion to a motorhome. Refrigerator, sleeping facilities, cooking facilities, toilet, shore power, separate heating/cooling. If you have an APU then a picture of that. Not all of these items are required, and it is turning out that it is somewhat random what they actually want. In October 2017 they specifically asked me about shore power, for example.
- Pictures of all four sides of the truck. The full truck must be in the picture.
- New: you MUST have “Private RV Not For Hire” on both sides of the truck and you must supply a picture of that. Individual pictures are required, NOT just the side pictures of the truck. Don’t ask me why.
- A Bill of Sale, listing EVERY person on the Seller’s title, and EVERY person on the requested new (Buyer’s) title. If you leave one name off, you will have to re-do it. Dealer paperwork will suffice for this.
- The Title from the Buyer. EVERY named person on the title must sign the release. If it is a dealer you bought from they will/should do this correctly, but private buyers may not. Make SURE the signatures and printed names match the title. If they do not, you will have a problem.
Forms to fill out:
- VTR-272-B Vin Self Certification
- VTR-249 Abbreviations for Make and Body Style
- VTR-130-U Application For Title
- VTR-130-UIF Instructions for Application For Title
- VTR-61 Rebuilt Vehicle Statement
- VTR-35-A Personalized Plate
- VTR-122 Rights of Survivorship (if needed)
- VTR-144 Travel Trailer Verification (if also doing your trailer)
- Vehicle Safety Inspection Waiver, Self Certification. As far as I know Polk does not have their own form, I used THIS ONE and modified it to eliminate Harris County. If you know of a State form let me know. The online registration system for renewals allows self certification but I know of no paper form.
The latest versions of these forms can be found on the TX DMV Forms website HERE (http://www.txdmv.gov/forms). I’m not including direct links here, since these forms get updated over time, and you will want the latest version(s).
You can certify the Rebuilt Vehicle yourself – you do not have to have a builder do it. If you are doing this out of state you will be requesting a waiver of the Inspection. Put a note with the Rebuilt form that you are out of state and are requesting waiver of the inspection on the Rebuilt Form.
You do not need a VTR-64, which is the Assembled Vehicle Safety Inspection. Do not include any info on the second page of the VTR-61 form – this should be marked as Not Applicable. Unless you did re-engine or otherwise heavily modify your vehicle (not typical).
Trailers in TX are a strange thing. Technically, the large 5er’s that we use with our HDT’s should be categorized as semi-trailers according to the legal description. That is NOT how it is done. They are done as travel trailers. Yes, travel trailers. Note that on the form a travel trailer has size restrictions. You may fall outside of the width and length. The advice I have received – and others have received – is to simply put down 40’ long and 96” wide, even if you are larger. You can pursue this on your own if you like, but that is what people have been doing for years with larger trailers that fall outside the regulations as currently written.