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Thread: Buying a trailer with no paperwork in NJ?

  1. #1
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    Default Buying a trailer with no paperwork in NJ?

    Not a specific wooden boat question but it will be carrying a wooden boat. Iíve never owned a trailer before but I want to buy a small one to carry kayaks, SUPs, small sailboats, etc. I found a likely one on Craigslist that comes with the proviso that the owner has no paperwork. A friend who is tangentially in the boat business says that Iím asking for a lot of headaches if I buy one with no paperwork. He claims that an undocumented trailer is almost impossible to register in NJ. I havenít yet talked with the seller but my friend says to treat any claims about registering with a lot of skepticism. Seems to me that I see a fair amount of trailers on Craigslist offered for sale without documents. Surely there must be a way to get these registered. Does anyone know if NJ DMV would be helpful? I wouldnít begin to know where to start with them. Iím interested in hearing any and all opinions about this subject.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Buying a trailer with no paperwork in NJ?

    Good lord! I am so glad sometimes that I live in the benighted backwater that I do. Every time I buy a boat from anyone outside of the south the owners always warn me that it is on an undocumented trailer! I always smile and say 'we don't care in Alabama'. Your 'documented' trailer is nothing but a way to get some more tax money out of you, wrapped in some sort of glitz about making sure it's road-worthy or built properly yadayadyada.

    Good luck with your purchase, but it sounds to me as if you might as well give up and get a trailer that's documented. Sounds sad to someone from where I live, but you guys have apparently experienced the benefits of big government in New Jersey and there's probably no use in fighting it.

    Mickey Lake
    'A disciple of the Norse god of aesthetically pleasing boats, Johan Anker'

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Buying a trailer with no paperwork in NJ?

    Can you register it as a "home built" ?
    How old is the trailer.
    If it's older than 15 years, it maybe eligible for that designation.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Buying a trailer with no paperwork in NJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by bamamick View Post
    Your 'documented' trailer is nothing but a way to get some more tax money out of you, wrapped in some sort of glitz about making sure it's road-worthy or built properly yadayadyada.
    You got that right! I'm pretty sure NJ residents have the highest tax/fee load in the country. The largest employer in the state of NJ is.....ta, da!....the state of NJ! Someone's got to pay for all those salaries, benefits and pensions, and it's us tax paying schlubs. Nephewtism here is a way of life.

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry View Post
    Can you register it as a "home built" ?
    How old is the trailer.
    If it's older than 15 years, it maybe eligible for that designation.
    It looks fairly new in the pictures. My friend mentioned that I could buy a bunch of trailer parts and, using the reciepts, try to pass it off as a homebuilt but that's not really saving me any money.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Buying a trailer with no paperwork in NJ?

    I understand your pain. I bought a new boat this past summer, and I made sure the trailer was titled in such a way that I could bring it from NY to PA and get it registered. It is very difficult, but not impossible to register an untitled trailer in PA. You basically need to show that it was homebuilt or that it was sold for salvage and totally rebuilt (e.g., new axles, springs, wheels, lights, hitch, rollers, etc.). A "notorized bill of sale" sounds impressive on Craigslist but is about as useful as a kleenex for getting it registered.


    If you are buying the trailer in NJ and registering it in NJ, at least you will only have to deal with only one state's DMV.

    I would call NJ DMV and talk to them. Talk to at least two different people on different days to be sure you get the same advice both times.

    Do not rely on advice from the seller (obviously) or from someone who is not with DMV. Even their title agents (if they have separate private agents in NJ) could get it wrong. I went through an agent in PA after talking to DMV, and he wound up calling DMV to confirm what I already knew and had told him.

    Good luck!

    Brian

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Buying a trailer with no paperwork in NJ?

    I don't imagine that NJ is very different from CT.
    Rather than trying to recover or recreate old paperwork, I found it much less trying to simply replace the ball hitch (which is excuse enough to get it inspected by the DMV as though it had been homemade), and have a fresh VIN assigned and get them to start all paperwork from scratch.

    The only caveat here is that they inspect the trailer AND THE TOW VEHICLE very thoroughly, so don't try this with any sort of sub-par vehicle or the tickets will cost more than a new trailer.
    We must go too far in order to know how far to go. Yeah.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Buying a trailer with no paperwork in NJ?

    NJ has recently gotten more complicated by making you provide much more information about the trailer. For years it has been easy to swipe someone's trailer cook up some receipts and register it as homemade.
    Some folks go out and bought a $200 harbor freight trailer to get the paperwork they need. Not that I suggesting you do that. Your other alternative is to register your trailer in a state requiring less stringent proof of ownership.

    Also search at http://www.stripersonline.com/f/, a lot of those guys are from Jersey and have dealt with trailer registration issues.

    http://www.nj.gov/mvc/Vehicle/PrivateUtilities.htm

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Buying a trailer with no paperwork in NJ?

    Yikes, looks like I'd be stepping into a paperwork hornet's nest if I buy this. Certainly something to think about.

    Looks like my friend wasn't too far off the mark.

    Gentlemen, thanks for all the good advice.
    Last edited by Dusty Yevsky; 02-03-2012 at 01:46 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Buying a trailer with no paperwork in NJ?

    Massachusetts can be tough also. I tried to register one with just a bill of sale. No way.

    I went home and gave the paperwork and the fee to my 20 year old daughter and she was back in 45 minutes with the registration and a licence plate.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Buying a trailer with no paperwork in NJ?

    here in NH i have seen some people cut the tounge off the trailer and put a new longer one on, they then have to register it has home made since the vin left with the original tounge. you usually have to go to state inspection station(most any mechanic) for them to verify there is no vin then the state issues you a new vin. lots of people are hauling 17' kayaks on cheap 4x4 or 4x8 trailers this way. when you are not hauling a boat you can take your trash to the transfer station, or go shopping at the home improvment store.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Buying a trailer with no paperwork in NJ?


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Buying a trailer with no paperwork in NJ?

    Well, I salvaged parts off of different trailers and built a 14'x 5' utility/flatbed trailer. I haul all sorts of stuff on it including boats. I pay for 1 tag, 1 trailer, and it's a lot more usefull than a boat specific trailer would ever be. A police officer came out to my house to inspect it. I had to have an ID number, lights, reflective stickers, good tires. It passed and I was then able to go to DMV and get "permanent" tags.
    Good luck

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Buying a trailer with no paperwork in NJ?

    I bought a trailer without papers. I called the trailer manufacturer ( Load Rite) they had his warranty info on file with the serial number, make and year. We put that info on the bill of sale and I took it to DMV. Done deal.

    This was in NY< about 5 years ago.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Buying a trailer with no paperwork in NJ?

    The thing to do is just ask the DMV. Don't try and sneak anything by them, just tell them what the situation is. They're not going to arrest you or track down the owner and bother him. Just ask them. And things like this are usually fairly subjective, you can get different answers depending on who you ask, one person might want documentation while the next will fill in the blank with "NA" and either way works. So, if one DMV person says it's a problem, go ask another, preferably in a different office. Also smaller offices can be different than bigger, busier offices.
    Last edited by SamSam; 02-04-2012 at 03:23 PM.

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