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.
Lance 650 even hides license plate in rear. I put my plate on the place for license plate on my lance but where do I place the license specifically for the lance?
It literally takes me 2 minutes to move plate from truck to camper, just have to remember to take plate off truck prior to loading otherwise it gets a little more complicated.
I was notified (but not ticked) by a MO State Trooper that my truck license was not visible since it is covered by an 11′ Bigfoot camper. Coming from WA, the camper has a different unique plate which is clearly visible and lit, and has a current registration tag. I did not get a clear answer on whether to be fully legal (in their state) I must move both plates to be visible from the back, or do the photocopy-in-plastic-wrap thing some have mentioned here.
It turns out the nice Trooper gentleman didn’t really care about my license plate, but since I was from Washington which is now a “weed-legal” state, and I had an extra storage rack since I was moving supplies to a new house in North Carolina, they were hoping they could find a few “bales” of “substance” and therefore impound the vehicle and whatever cash and stuff they found, but there was nothing to find since all I had was basically tools and cat food, some dirty dishes and laundry; not at all what they were looking for. It turned out funny (well, not that funny) but in the end the license plates themselves were never really an issue. But still if you want to be the most “legal,” best to find a way to move or duplicate the license (both if your state has separate ones) for the clearly-visible back of the rig.
I too am a retired 35 yr Veteran living in AZ and own a 1999 Ford F250 SD with a 1999 Lance 1010 Camper in it’s box. I was almost insulted by an RV park telling me I Cannot Stay in their Park because My Rig is NOT considered an RV? Really…. Looks like an RV to me lol… I have ALL the amenities that any trailer has… Oh well I guess I have to belong to a separate class… Not RV, Not Cargo…. Truck Campers Anonymous! (TCA for short)…
I have a Lance 1130 which is 11.5ft long on an 8ft bed F350. The truck’s rear plate cannot even be seen when the camper is mounted. In CA, they require both front and rear plates and will not issue a 3rd. I just took a photo and printed it on my home color laser printer on an 8-1/2 x 11 paper which means the copy is slighlty smaller than the original…..then put it in between stiff plastic of a plastic file folder and mounted it….It looks similar to the original. Definitely does not ‘shine’ like the original with reflective paint. I recently took a 6800 mile, 14 state trip as well as several in-state trips and have had no issues. I recommend this approach and if stopped, am prepared to defend my ‘best solution in the face of unsupportive bureaucrats’ approach.
Indiana does not require, nor can you get a tag for your truck camper. Either you must move the plate back and forth or you can follow Doyle Crews suggestion and duplicate a copy. You can obtain a voluntary registration/title for your TC, but, it comes without a plate. I ran into this a couple of years ago when trading in my previous TC. I have re-verified this information with both the Indiana Bureau of motor vehicles and the Indiana state police.
I share the concern about not properly displaying my truck tag, but Alabama does not issue a second tag. So I Xerox my truck tag (at an office supply store such as Staples), laminate the copy and mount it on the camper.
Minnesota requires two plates, each with a registration tag on a vehicle. I went into the DMV to get a 3rd plate as my Lance 981 Max covers my plate on the truck. The Lady said “No way!”, you cannot have a 3rd plate. So I just drive around with the plate covered when the camper is on. Someday I will probably get a ticket.
I suppose I could have told her that one fell off, but I think they would have issued me two new plates rather than an extra duplicate plate.
I like the idea of personal plates, I probably could have gotten a third if I lost one. I believe the plate number expires every 7 years here in Minnesota.
That’s too bad that some states won’t provide another plate. It’s stupid actually. If the owner wants another plate, give it to him/her.
I’m a manufacturing engineer. I have always worked in private manufacturing. Profit-driven business would readily adapt to a need if there was potential profit. For State govrnments, profit is never a motive so there is no incentive to adapt. They are driven by regulatory mandate, which rarely accommodates exceptions. I imagine state governments would contract to have license plates mass manufactured in pairs (only) from a contractor. I am not surprised that it is impossible to find a state that has the capacity to go back and make a ‘one-off’. While some manufacturers are set up for ‘mass customization’, I’m quite sure government is well behind the times….the process alone to request a specific plate reprint and communicate it is an administrative specialty likely quite beyond any state government…..just go to any DMV to experience the state of ‘administrative efficiency’ and you’ll have your answer…..