Lola’s great day at the the DMV

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When I purchased Lola a few weeks ago, I went to the local DMV and started the registration process.  I knew it was going to be interesting since Lola had been sold several times without being registered by the new owners.  The sales were documented by a continuous chain of bills of sale from one owner to the next.  There was not a title, but a completed and signed REG 227, Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title, with the release of ownership section completed by the first seller.

The DMV official was able to follow the chain of sales and verified the first seller was the last owner of record.  The completed REG 277 was valid and I would be able to register Lola and obtain a title in my name – all good news.  The official then noted that since the trailer was still “in the system.” (last registered in 2003) I would need to pay all the past due fees in order to complete the registration – not good news.  The registration and past due fees were almost $900.  Ouch.

I inquired if there was any way to lower the cost.  The DMV official indicated that I could ask for a waiver of the fees if the trailer had been non-operational.  He handed me a page form REG 256 and asked me to enter a statement in Section G with a request to waive the fees and details of the non-operational status.  Good news.  He headed off for management approval, which he received, and recalculated the registration fees – $455.  Better, but not good.

I wanted to register the trailer with a permanent plate.  For some reason, the official was not responsive to this and stated that I would need to register the trailer under the regular yearly process, wait until the new title arrives, bring the trailer in for inspection, and then re-register the trailer under permanent status.  This did not seem right.  I ended up leaving the DMV without completing the registration or paying the fees.

Today I returned to the the DMV office for a new appointment (currently it is taking several weeks to get an appointment) and repeated the process.  This time I had a completed Permanent Trailer Identification (PTI) Application.  Also, a new REG 256, Section G, request to waive fees with pictures documenting Lola’s derelict condition when I purchased her.  Once again, a very nice DMV official, reviewed the chain of custody, verified the documents, obtained approval, and this time agreed that I could apply for PTI registration.  However I would need to bring the trailer in for inspection to complete the process.

Since there was time to pick up Lola and return before closing, I rushed over to the storage facility and retrieved Lola.  It took a little while for an inspector to free up, but the process went well – verified serial number, asked for the weight, asked for year, asked for manufacturer, asked for model, verified single axle, verified single tire per side, measured length (has to be under 16′ for PTI), and measured width (has to be under 96″).  Lola passed and I headed back inside with the completed inspection form and paperwork.

Another very nice DMV official reviewed the chain of custody, verified the documents, obtained approval, and agreed that I could apply for PTI registration.

To make the story short (Ha, Ha) – $175 and Lola has her new PTI plate!

One interesting thing.  Somewhere along the line Lola changed from a “Coach Trailer” to a “Camp Trailer”.  Not sure how this affected the fees, but Lola needed to be a Camp Trailer to qualify for PTI.

Here are a couple of definitions from the Ca DMV:

Camp Trailer (CVC §242)

A camp trailer is a vehicle other than a motor vehicle:

designed to be towed on the highway,

capable of human habitation for camping or recreational purposes,

that does not exceed 16 feet in overall length from the foremost point of the trailer hitch to the rear extremity of the trailer body and 96 inches in width.

A camp trailer shall not be considered to be a trailer coach.

Coach Trailer

A “trailer coach” is a vehicle, other than a motor vehicle, designed for human habitation or human occupancy for industrial, professional, or commercial purposes, for carrying property on its own structure, and for being drawn by a motor vehicle. Vehicle Code Section 635.

Another interesting point.  It seems that the pictures attached to my Section G statement really helped convince the officials and managers that Lola had been truly non-operational.  Especially the picture of the wheel well and brake drum covered in black widow spider webs.  🙂


Here’s a great resource to help understand the PTI process – Nick’s Teardrop Trailer Page.