In case you missed it, we’re sharing a series with Ramona Creel on the road to full-timing! A few weeks ago we heard from her on best practices and things to consider when you’re declaring domicile. Today, Ramona is sharing on the importance and details about Vehicle Registration! Check it out:
Certainly the cost of vehicle registration is an important deciding factor when choosing your state of domicile as a full-time RVer. Now that you find yourself paying registration fees and taxes on an Airstream (as well as the truck you use to tow it and any extra vehicle you bring with you) — the tags/taxes/title expenses can add up quickly. But as a full-timer, you’ve also got other LOGISTICAL vehicle registration concerns to deal with that were never an item when you lived in one place:
Registration/renewal: Of course you’ll want to know if you need to register/renew your vehicles in person, because you might not relish the idea of driving 1,000 miles just to file a form at the DMV when you’re halfway across the country! A big plus for some states is the fact that you can register your vehicles, transfer the titles, and have the tags sent to you long-distance — all done by online or by mail – which means you can adventure wherever you’d like for longer.
Inspection: You have to get a state inspection of your rig to certify that everything is functional — no problems with the axles, moving parts on the trailer, brakes, tail lights, and especially the breakaway switch. I personally had a few things that needed to be fixed for my Airstream to be able to pass, but fortunately, the inspection site also offered repair services, and the whole thing took about an hour. For vehicle emissions, you want an independent testing station rather than one that does repairs to avoid being ripped off, but the opposite can turn out to be true for trailer inspections.
Vehicle weight: When registering an RV, the fee is generally based on gross vehicle weight — most rigs have a plaque attached to the body that certifies the weight at the time of manufacture, but as a full-timer, you’ll be asked to show what weight you will be driving down the road, with the Airstream fully loaded. You can either find a truck stop with CAT scales, or stop by a state-run weigh station to get this certification — not a big deal, but don’t overlook this step and delay your launch date.
Emissions testing: Some states require an emissions test on your tow vehicle every time you renew, some every few years, and others not at all. If you choose a state that does, find out if you can have your test done in another state and simply mail in the certification. If not, you’re looking at a potentially expensive and inconvenient trip back to your state of domicile every time you need an emissions test.
All of these items to consider are such great points in preparation as you’re launching the full-time life. More than anything, it’s great to be educated and think ahead so you can make the transition successfully! Next time, we’ll be sharing Ramona’s thoughts on a FAQ: How will I get my mail?