Caravans (or, if you live in North America, trailers) are a great way to bring along the comforts of home with you on a camping trip. Of course, before you take your caravan with you, you need to make sure it’s properly licensed.
Caravans are technically counted as separate vehicles from your car, and as such, they require their own number plates. However, this can depend on where you live, as some areas have different requirements for licensing a trailer.
Today, we’ll be sharing with you everything you need to know about licensing your trailer, no matter where you are.
Why Does My Caravan Need a Number Plate?
As we’ve mentioned, caravans (or trailers) are considered separate vehicles from cars, even though caravans have no engines and can’t move on their own. Depending on the size of the caravan, you may need a specific license to use it (although if it’s just an ordinary camping caravan or cargo trailer you should be able to use it with your regular driver’s license).
However, even though caravans are considered vehicles and need number plates, they’re not subject to the same licensing rules as cars are, as we’ll explain.
How Do I Get a License for My Caravan?
No matter where you go, a license is almost always required to use a caravan or a trailer. The rules and regulations concerning the use of caravans change quite a bit depending on where you live, so let’s go over some of these rules now.
In the U.K.
All caravans and trailers in the U.K. need their own number plates. More importantly, however, every caravan needs a number plate that matches the one of the vehicle towing it.
However, acquiring a matching number plate for a caravan in the U.K. is pretty easy. Unlike when registering a car, you yourself don’t need to register a trailer; rather, the dealer themselves registers it to you via the Central Registration and Identification Scheme (CRiS). You still have to get your own number plates, however.
In the U.K., you can buy caravan number plates from any licensed third-party number plate manufacturer. You just need to provide them with the number from your main vehicle’s plate, as well as proof that you actually own the plate and proof of your identity.
Since the number plate on your caravan has to match the vehicle that’s towing it, you’ll need to get more than one set of plates for your caravan if you plan on using more than one vehicle to tow it.
In North America
In North America (specifically the U.S. and Canada), the process is a little different for registering a caravan. For one, caravans and trailers in the U.S. and Canada don’t need a license plate that matches the one of the vehicle towing it; rather, every caravan gets its own license plate that it keeps forever.
If you live in the States or Canada, you should check what the laws are in your state/province concerning the registration of a caravan. For example, depending on what state you live in, you will almost certainly need a license plate for your caravan, but you may not need a title for it.
In addition, your trailer might not need a number plate depending on what kind it is and what you intend to do with it. If you have a utility trailer that you’re using exclusively on a farm, for instance, you may not need a number plate for it at all depending on what state you live in.
Whether or not you need to annually reregister your caravan also depends on where you live. In many areas, annual registration is required, but in others, you may only need to register your caravan once when you first buy it.
Acquiring plates for a caravan in North America is also different from how it’s done in the U.K. You can’t buy a number plate from a third-party seller, as those don’t exist in North America; rather, you have to get one through whichever transportation authority exists in your state/province.
Long story short, yes, your caravan needs a number plate. This is true pretty much no matter where you are, although the rules and regulations surrounding the use of number plates on caravans are going to change depending on where you are.
If you’re still unsure of what the rules are concerning number plates in your area, your best bet is to reach out to the transportation authority in your area and see what they have to say.