If you’re wondering about license plate placement on your truck camper rig and which plate goes where and when, you’re not alone. There appears to be some confusion about this issue in the truck camper community. A big reason for this confusion relates to differing laws regarding truck camper registration and licensing in each state. Fortunately, the laws in most states aren’t that much different from each other. What are the similarities? What are the differences? Let’s take a look.
At present, there are nine states that classify the truck camper as a recreational vehicle rather than cargo: Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, and Washington. In these states the truck camper is registered and licensed separately from the truck that carries it. In other words, truck camper rigs in these eight states will display two entirely different plates—one for the truck, the other for the camper. This is pretty simple, there’s no confusion about this. The real confusion lies with the remaining 42 states and what’s required by law. In these states the truck camper is considered cargo and doesn’t need to be registered.
That sounds easy, so what’s the problem? One word: visibility. For truck campers with an overhang in the rear, the truck’s license plate is difficult to see. The law in most states requires that the license plate be visible from the rear of the vehicle 200 feet away. Unfortunately, the camper’s overhang—which can be as long as 2 to 3 feet—often makes viewing the plate difficult if not impossible. In such cases, officers may ticket you for having an obscured plate. We’ve never had a problem in the many states we’ve been to with our camper—this appears to be the case for most truck camper owners, too. Unfortunately, some owners have been ticketed by law enforcement officers for having a hidden plate, so it is an issue.
So what’s the solution? It’s not that difficult. Get two license plates for your truck and place the extra license plate on your camper. If your state doesn’t provide two license plates you might be able to order another plate for your camper at cost or you could order a special personalized license plate for your truck (states that offer special personalized plates typically provide two). This is what we did here in Arizona when we recently ordered a personalized Route 66 plate for our truck. The main plate with the annual registration tag is displayed on the truck, while the non-tagged plate is mounted on the camper.
If getting another truck plate isn’t an option, you’ll have to either switch your license plate back and forth between the truck and the camper before and after each outing or make a special laminated copy of the plate for your camper. Sure, either solution can be a pain, but it is what it is. The other option, of course, is to just roll with a single plate and risk getting pulled over. The choice is yours.
For a list of states that require truck camper registration and titling, click here.