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Is Permanent Trailer Registration Worth It?


In the past couple of years, Ohio has made the move to allowing commercial carriers to register trailers permanently in the state for a one-time fee. Ohio is one of several states, including Arizona, Michigan, California and Montana among others, to institute this option for companies. The move appears to be one supposed to be mutually beneficial for business and state. What’s difficult to decide is if permanent registration is worth it for your company.

Some carriers have eyed this move by states suspiciously as many of them, including Ohio, passed legislation in the government to put into practice an apparent move to drum up more up-front state income. Many other little fees, such as postage and registrar fees, will still apply regardless of how many trucks you register as well. 

But at the same time, it can save a company a lot of money if you have a large fleet that needs commercial renewal every few years. It could also make life easier if you have to keep track of a lot of trucks that need renewal at the same time.

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There are some real benefits to consider when looking at permanent registration:

  1. You never have to worry about that vehicle’s registration going forward. It’s one less thing to have to deal with through the BMV.
  2. Long term, it can save you a lot of money in renewal fees for commercial trucks.
  3. You can still receive free universal validation stickers for fleets of over 100 vehicles, including those with permanent registration.

But at the same time, there are notable cons that have been posed by carriers:

  1. Permanent registration can only be used on new or unlicensed vehicles.
  2. It costs more money up front; in Ohio it can be up to $420 per truck per year, and the current regulation asks for eight years of registration fees in one payment.
  3. Permanent registration isn’t transferable if you sell your truck or in most states, including Ohio, if you transfer its usage to non-commercial hauls.

Permanent registration and its usefulness will depend upon your fleet. If you have a large batch of shiny, new trucks coming in that you plan on having on the road for a while, it could be very worth it to have those trucks permanently registered to avoid the renewal fees later. But if you are a small carrier just starting out with 50 trucks, that’s probably not a great way to spend your money.

Find out how permanent registration works in the states you operate in on your BMV website. Do some informed number crunching to decide if it’s worth it for your company. One way or another, you could save your company a bundle by making the right call on this one little detail.

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