Found In the Woods

December 23, 2017

HOWTO: Registering a Harbor Freight Trailer in Maryland

Filed under: Projects — bsullivan @ 11:04 am

NOTE: Please read the comments below – it sounds like some folks are having trouble having their trailers registered, being told that since it is a “kit” it must be inspected first. Read on for helpful info but YMMV!

NOTE: At this time, the trailer has been removed from the HF website due to out-of-spec tires. (more on that here

HF 40.5" x 48" HaulMaster trailer

HF 40.5″ x 48″ HaulMaster trailer

Back in 2016 I purchased a 40.5″ x 48″ HaulMaster trailer from Harbor Freight with the intent of using it to haul a large aluminum canoe, junk to the dump, wheels/tires/tools to HPDE’s and other hauling duties. I constructed the trailer, built the deck and sides and after a while prepared to have it titled and registered. Unfortunately the MD MVA site is a bit vague on how this is done and specifically what you need to accomplish this. After gathering my documents together and heading to the MVA with a hope and a prayer, I was successful but not without a bit of difficulty. For those who may be attempting the same thing as me, I’d like to give a brief run-down of what you’ll need to get your trailer registered.

First up, visit the official MD Titling & Registration website, here. Download the VR-005 form and fill it out ahead of time. They consider this type of trailer a new vehicle. When you fill out the form you will fill out the Applicant’s info (your personal info). Then in Vehicle Description section you’ll fill out the year, make, model no, body style, VIN, and check the box for TRAILER. Fill out the Trailer section. Under the section for whether or not there is a lien on the vehicle you will write “NONE” in the first box.  Under the APPLICATION FOR NEW REGISTRATION PLATES… section check “new tags”, you can write in your insurance carrier info and then leave the signatures at the bottom for when you are at the MVA itself. If filling out any of this form makes you uneasy, leave it and do it at the MVA. It’s up to you. If you mess up, they have the forms there as well.

What to Bring

  1. Your MD Driver’s License.
  2. Form VR-005 APPLICATION FOR CERTIFICATE OF TITLE – You can download it here. Fill out as much as you can.
  3. Your insurance informationTechnically this is not required. I went to one window at the MVA and the woman told me I did, so I had to go to the car, call my insurance provider who told me I didn’t need coverage; that the trailer was covered under my insurance policy for the car itself. So I went back in to the MVA with my insurance card in case I needed it. The next service agent I spoke to told me I did not need my insurance information. So, YMMV. Bring your insurance card in case you need it.
  4. The bill of sale – You’ll need the original receipt from Harbor Freight (or wherever you purchased your trailer from). This will indicate the purchase of the trailer and that you paid tax on it.
  5. The certificate of origin – this is the paper that came with the trailer when you purchased it. If HF did not give you one, you need to contact them immediately and obtain it. It looks like a title document but it’s not a title document. It states the origin of the trailer, the type, manufacturer, capacity and more details. It looks like this.
  6. Credit card/payment – Title and registration is not cheap, unfortunately, in MD. The total cost for me was $195.70. Ouch!

Some tips/thoughts

  • Make copies of everything, if you are interested in having copies. I was not aware of it, but when they process the paperwork they will take the original bill of sale (receipt from HF) AND the certificate of origin for the trailer. You won’t *need* them after the MD title is issued, but if you care, make copies before hand.
  • Bring a pen in case you need to go off and fill out any extra forms. It’s just handier than having to search for one at the various windows/shelves.
  • I went to the MVA on a Friday afternoon before Christmas. The visit, including the snafu where I had to leave the building and go back in, took me about an hour and a half. On a good day I would say about an hour is what you’ll need to get it all done. Having the paperwork ready makes it faster.

As usual, the disclaimer: this is not official information so take it for what it’s worth. I’m sharing it because it was a stumbling block for me and I hope it may help others who are considering the same process. The trailers are inexpensive and quite versatile. You can bust on me all you want for paying nearly the same amount for the trailer as it cost to register it, but I like being on the up-and-up with this sort of thing should an accident happen. The registration is good for two years at which time it will need renewal and that can be done at various places, including the kiosk located in the lobby of the MVA. One more note on the MVA – the folks I dealt with were very helpful and patient. I’m thankful for that. Good luck, everyone!

14 Responses to “HOWTO: Registering a Harbor Freight Trailer in Maryland”

  1. Andy Says:

    Hi and thanks for posting this info. I also purchased a HF trailer and was lost regarding tags. Did you not require a safety inspection certificate? Did you get a temp tag to haul it to an inspection station?


  2. bsullivan Says:

    Very welcome. Did not require a safety inspection and no temp tag necessary. Just bring the required paperwork, forms and you should be all set, unless something has changed at the MD DMV since I posted this. (not sure, haven’t had to do it again!) Good luck! If you find new info, please share.

  3. Thankful Says:

    I really appreciate you posting this. I found the forms and everything, but it’s impossible to just swagger into the local MVA branch with a pen, ID and some time to kill now with the coronavirus thing going on. Seeing this process outlined here helped me prepare. Thanks a bunch.

  4. bsullivan Says:

    Very welcome.

  5. cmart Says:

    My favorite thing about this was registering and getting a license plate for a vehicle that was still in a hundred pieces across two boxes.

  6. bsullivan Says:

    HA! Yes! I thought the same thing. When I was reviewing the policies in MD for registering trailers, I couldn’t figure out how this trailer that was in pieces was not a “home-made” thing. Even though it’s a kit, it’s still considered a registered trailer. It was bizarre. 🙂

  7. Jmert Says:

    I moved from out of state and no longer have a receipt for my HF trailer which is more than 6 years old.

    What options do I have?

  8. Abitlost Says:

    I moved from out of state and no longer have a receipt for my HF trailer which is more than 6 years old.

    What options do I have?

  9. bsullivan Says:

    John – I’m not 100% sure, TBH. You don’t have the receipt, but do you have the registration? Hate to say it, but you may need to reach out to the MVA to find out what is needed. Wish I knew! Good luck!!

  10. Salman Says:

    Visited MVA in Waldorf MD on 3/10/22, they want the trailer inspected first before registration or tags (Temp/Perm) as it was built from kit. So, I need trailer to take this trailer for inspection or drive it w/o tags and pray not be be pulled over for driving it without tags… 🙁

  11. bsullivan Says:

    Yikes! Sounds like maybe they changed their process. So strange they’d want it inspected before getting the tags, temp or permanent. They’re essentially telling you that you have to risk getting pulled over. Thanks for the update!

  12. crashman Says:

    Just did this in Columbia, MD. Needed the Cert of Origin, VR-005, drivers license and purchase receipt. No inspection required. I’m wondering if Waldorf MVA thought it was a homebuilt? No new vehicle requires an inspection. My only snag was that HF was not in their database of vehicle vendors. My rep figured it out somehow and I got tags. Total cost for Title, tags and 2-year registration was $175.

  13. Lor Says:

    As of July 2022, MVA is still requiring kit trailers to be inspected and will not issue temp tags since they can’t be sure the tailer is road worthy and safe. We were told it was up to us to “find a way” to get the trailer to a shop to be inspected.

  14. bsullivan Says:

    Sorry for the late reply, but thanks for this update! Frustrating, to say the least.

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