Inspection - frequently asked questions

Dealers | Driver license | Equipment | Miscellaneous | Permits | Registration and plates | Trailers


How do I apply for a dealer's license?

See dealer and motor vehicle businesses, or call 608-266-1425.

Whom do I contact if I want to make a dealer complaint?

See dealer complaints.

When a vehicle is owned by a dealership, but hasn't been inspected and conditioned for resale yet, may a dealer plate be used on it?

Yes, but only for transit to the dealership and for driving the vehicle while it is being conditioned for resale. A "Not Inspected for Sale" sticker must be displayed on the vehicle when operating it before it's been inspected and offered for sale.

Dealers are permitted to use a dealer plate on used vehicles they own and are offering for sale, but only after the inspection is done and the used vehicle disclosure label is displayed.

See dealer plates for more information.

When may boat dealers use a demonstrator plate to operate a trailer loaded with a boat?

If both the boat and trailer are owned and offered for sale by the dealer and operation involved delivery to or from a prospective purchaser. (Can take boat/trailer to trade shows.)

See demonstrator plates for more information.

What are the requirements for trailer dealer plates?

Empty trailers may be operated using trailer dealer plates. To qualify for demonstrator plates, you must first obtain trailer dealer plates. Annual cost of the first two trailer dealer plates is $75.00. Additional plates are available for $85.40 each. Annual cost of trailer demonstrator plates is $10 each.

See Special motor vehicle industry plates for more information.

Driver license

Explain the Commercial Driver License laws.

You will need a Commercial Driver license if:

  • You are operating a single vehicle registered, GVWR or weighs over 26,000 pounds. Combination vehicle requirements.
  • You are carrying hazardous materials that require the display of a placard.
  • The vehicle is used or designed to carry 16 or more people including the driver.


What are the requirements for lettering on trucks?

The name and USDOT number must be visible from 50 feet away.


What is a class B highway?

This is a road that restricts axle weights to 60% of ordinary legal weight limitations.

What are the stopping requirements for the Safety and Weight Facilities (SWEFs)?

Wisconsin statute 348.19 requires vehicles to be weighed when directed to do so by a traffic officer. The remaining requirements are covered under Administrative Rule. Transportation rule 312.03(2) states, "...the Department chooses not to require operators of trucks having a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or less to stop at open weigh stations unless directed to do so by a traffic officer."


How may I get a 72-hour trip permit?

See trip permits.

How and where do I get an oversize permit?

Call 608-266-7320 Special Permit Section. See Oversize/overweight permits.

When do I need an oversize permit?

For anything over legal size. Legal size: 8.6 feet wide, 13.6 feet high, 45 feet long (one vehicle); 70 feet long (combination of two vehicles). Exceptions allow longer combinations. See Determine if a permit is required.

Are there any restrictions while operating an oversize load?

Yes, read your permit.

If I have an oversize permit in Wisconsin, what are my limitations while operating in another state?

Wisconsin permits are good in Wisconsin. You'll need to obtain permits from the other states.

I have 6,000 pound plates on my pickup truck. Is there a temporary permit I may get to haul an overweight load?

No. If the load is divisible, you must re-register for higher weight or rent a truck with a heavier plate.

Are fuel permits required in Wisconsin?

No. Call each state to see if it's required.

Registration and plates

Phone: 608-266-1466

How do I apply for a specialized plate?

It depends on the type of specialized plate. See Special license plates.

May special interest vehicles be operated year-round?

As of January 10, 1992, a vehicle with collector or hobbyist registration plates are only required to be out of service during the month of January instead of the first three months of the year as was previously required. A five-consecutive-day plate may be purchased by sending form MV2750 with the correct fee to the address provided on the form.


Does a homemade trailer need to be inspected?

No. Homemade trailers need to meet the requirements for lights, chains and brakes if the trailer (loaded) exceeds 3,000 pounds. If over 3,000 pounds, an ID number must be assigned by the DMV.

What are the requirements for agriculture bailer combination?

A farmer may pull two trailers behind a tractor (hauling corn, etc.). Pulling with a truck requires that both trailers be empty. Motor trucks may tow two new trailers or semi-trailers to be used for transporting farm products or livestock without a special permit if:

  • The trailers are being delivered from dealer to dealer or manufacturer to dealer.
  • Motor truck is no more than 25 feet long.
  • Each trailer is no more than 28 feet, six inches long. (Frame extension isn't included in determining the length.)

What is required to operate a three vehicle train - car/camper/boat or recreational trailer?

Select 3-vehicle trains including combinations of horse or camper trailers, boats and recreational vehicle trailers are permitted to be operated without a permit from the DMV as long as they meet specified vehicle type, equipment, length, weight and operating conditions specified in Wisconsin Statute 348.08.

I'm pulling a trailer, does it need lights?

Yes. Ref: Wisconsin statutes 347.13, 347.14, 347.15.

When does a trailer need a slow moving vehicle sign?

When the trailer is traveling at a speed less than 25 miles per hour. Ref: Wisconsin statute 347.245 (1)

How do I license my trailer?

If it is more than 3,000 pounds it is required. Under 3,000 pounds is optional. See Registration, miscellaneous requirements.

I just bought a trailer which is not licensed. Can I pull it home?

Yes, if it does require a license, register with the Division of Motor Vehicles.

When does a trailer need trailer brakes?

Trailer brakes are required if the trailer and load exceed 3,000 pounds or if the trailer's gross weight exceeds the empty weight of the towing vehicle. Ref: Wisconsin statute 348.10 (4)

How big can my trailer be before it needs side mirrors?

You must be able to see 200 feet of the roadway to the rear of your vehicle. Ref: Wisconsin statute 347.40

Does my trailer need safety chains?

Yes, unless it is a fifth-wheel and king pin assembly mount. Other fifth wheel mounts require safety chains.

I'm towing another vehicle. What rules and provisions do I need to follow?

You need directional and stop lamps (tail lights if required for water conditions or night driving) to the furthermost rear. You may not use a chain longer than 12-feet. You need a flashing yellow light in the rear if you are traveling under the normal speed. Ref: Wisconsin statute 347.26(6)

I'm hauling a long piece of material (i.e., telephone pole). How many feet may it stick out beyond my vehicle, and may I operate on a main highway while transporting it?

Three-foot overhang on front of vehicle: four-foot overhang on back. If longer, you need a red flag (12-inch square). A single vehicle cannot be more than 45-feet-long (truck and overhang load). Must have a red light visible from 500 feet at end of load if hauling during hours of darkness. Two vehicles and load may not exceed 70 feet.

For more information: