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Can I Register A Semi Truck As An RV? (Here Are The Facts)

If you’re a trucker that love’s traveling the country and want to save on accommodation expenses, you may have considered the idea of using your semi truck as a motorhome or recreational vehicle (RV).

Here we explore the concept of registering your semi as an RV in greater detail.

Here is the answer to whether you can Register a Semi Truck as an RV

A semi truck can be registered as an RV. A proof of sale or ownership title for the semi truck is required. The semi truck is required to have a specific design that may include having a bathroom, sleeping quarters, and a form of shelter. Specific requirements vary upon a states local regulations.

Can I Register a Semi Truck as an RV or Motorhome?

The first thing to think about when considering registering your vehicle as an RV is what the term RV stands for: Recreational Vehicle.

The distinction lies in the use of the vehicle more than the structure of the actual truck. 

Therefore, think of your semi truck as a commercial truck for hire. So the question remains, can you convert your semi truck from a commercial “for work” truck into a recreational vehicle?

The answer lies in what makes a recreational vehicle, recreational. The requirements vary state by state, but ask yourself if your truck has the living conditions necessary for you to live in? 

A lot of people assume that a semi truck is only a truck that hauls a large trailer, but the reality is many of them have living and sleeping quarters for the drivers.

If your truck has these amenities, you are part of the way there to be considered recreational. 

But, there are many legal and licensing components to consider and we will explore this more as we go!

What Licensing are you Required to have if your Semi is Registered as an RV?

When licensing your vehicle you want to be sure to check with your local and state regulations about what is required to register an RV, or to switch your registration.

This may mean contacting your local Motor Vehicles, Department of Transportation, or other office. 

Generally, however, an RV is required to have a specific design which includes having a bathroom, sleeping quarters, and a form of shelter.

Fortunately, most semi trucks meet these requirements rather well, especially in the newer models. 

Some states are more strict regarding the registration of the vehicle, but for most states, the title is needed.

Other states are a little more lenient and may only require the proof of sale, but just to be safe, try to be sure to get the vehicle registered and the title switched to you as soon as possible. 

As far as special licensing for your RV, most states do not require you to have a CDL license to drive an RV. Even if you are using a tractor to haul your RV.

Although, if your truck exceeds 26,000 lbs. you may need a CDL license to drive it.

This varies widely, but it is a good rule of thumb when trying to decide if your normal driver’s license is sufficient when driving your truck.

Does Licensing vary by State and details of the Conversion?

Licensing and conversion requirements vary a bit wildly state by state.

When purchasing a vehicle, some states require it to be inspected and registered by the state authority, while others do not require it to be registered again. 

Most states do not require you to have a CDL license to operate this vehicle unless you are driving it for commercial purposes.

This may mean changing your truck’s registration as a commercial to recreational vehicle, while this is different state by state. 

Although, even if you are driving a truck for recreational purposes only, remember that in some states the weight of the trailer and truck still needs to be considered.

If it is too heavy you may need a CDL to operate it even recreationally.

A very helpful discussion forum can be found at this link. On this forum, you can find a variety of RV drivers discussing their personal experiences with the different state’s DMVs and how they operate and some helpful advice.

Do you need to Remove the 5th Wheel to Register your Semi Truck as an RV?

The fifth wheel is not an actual wheel, but rather a hitch and axle which connects the tractor to the trailer.

This is the way in which the semi truck hauls its loads and is able to turn the trailer well. 

In short, it is not mandatory that you remove the 5th wheel on your semi truck in order to register it as an RV.

The most important part of converting your truck, with regards to the legality of it, is to ensure the weight is not excessive and the registration is recreational, not commercial. 

Although, it may be beneficial to remove it for towing a camper, or another small trailer. The 5th wheel is designed for commercial loads which can be very heavy.

Additionally, if you are trying to avoid issues with the DMV or local authorities, you may want to get this removed. 

Does the Semi Truck Sleeper need a Sink and Toilet to have it Registered as an RV?

As a general rule, it is important to check with your local government. However, you do not necessarily need any sort of plumbing to be registered as non-commercial and recreational.

If you are trying to be registered as a living space, then things change a little. 

You will probably want to have some kind of toilet in your truck if you plan to use it as a form of Winnebago for traveling the country.

Additionally, if you plan on making stops at campgrounds, some of them have requirements about how to dispose of waste and store it, so it is a good idea to have some system in place. 

You could install some system like the portable toilet, which many truck drivers have installed for when they travel long distances.

This website usedvending.com, helps discuss these systems and how they are installed and used.

Can you Pull a Trailer with your Semi Truck Registered as an RV?

This can be a slightly complex situation, because, again, it does depend upon the state in which you are registered and travel in.

Generally, if you can make any sort of profit or gain from the transportation it can fall under a violation of the non-commercial special license. 

If you are hauling any type of trailer be sure that there is no monetary or prize reward associated with the haul.

That aside, you can tow small trailers with your hitch. Although make sure the size and weight do not violate local regulations. 

As a rule of thumb, do not exceed 26,000 lbs. or 45 feet.

Most states would not accept such a trailer as within the boundaries of recreational use and may require you to have a CDL in order to tow it. 

What can you Haul if your Semi Truck is Registered as an RV?

You can haul almost anything so long as it is not for commercial use, or violates any of the local or state laws.

You can haul a small flatbed to tow items for personal, non-commercial uses. This might include a trailer such as a camper if you think you have the need for it. 

Just be sure you are cautious, and it is recommended that you remove your 5th wheel in order to prevent confusion with the Department of Transportation.

This means that long semi truck trailers are pretty much out of the question and you’re unlikely to be questioned regarding the use of your trailer. 

If a Semi Truck is Registered as an RV can you use it for Commercial Purposes?

This is one of those rules you can be fairly certain to be unanimous between states. If your truck is not registered as a commercial vehicle, you cannot use it for any commercial purposes. 

This includes even non-monetary rewards, such as competitions that offer rewards.

If you use your semi truck to transport articles for some competition, this would qualify as a commercial endeavor and is not permitted. 

Again, always check with your local specifications, but it is fairly ubiquitous across the board.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has extremely detailed information on their site which you’ll find helpful.

Can you use your Semi Truck as a Show Truck when it’s Registered as an RV?

You can enter your truck in a show if it is registered as an RV so long as there are no prizes associated with winning.

If there is the potential for any type of compensation or prize for your entry, then the driving of this vehicle could be considered a commercial use.

Although, it seems that for most states if it is simply a gathering to show off a truck it should be considered alright.

If you are transporting something for a contest in your truck, be sure you have in writing that it is for recreational purposes and not for any form of monetary gain. 

This will ensure you can show to any state or local police or transportation authority that you are not operating for commercial purposes. 

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