Trailer inspection, what do I need to be aware of?

As a trailer owner, you may wonder: does my trailer actually need to be inspected? This question cannot be answered directly because there are different rules for different trailers. For example, for trailers under 3500 kilograms there is no official RDW APK inspection, but there are inspection reports from the organisations: Focwa and BOVAG. These are not compulsory, but they are a good idea to ask for when buying a second-hand model. So whether your trailer requires inspection depends on various factors. One thing is certain, do not forget your trailer lighting and triangular reflector!

Small trailer inspection

Different types of trailers

In order to know which requirements apply to your type of trailer, you must first know in which feature group your trailer falls. There are four weight classes for different trailers. Each class has its own rules that your vehicle must comply with. The distinction for an official MOT inspection is therefore made on the basis of weight class.

1. Trailers up to 750kg | before 29-10-2012

750kg small trailer
Trailers up to 750 KG

The trailers up to 750 kg from before 29-10-2012 have the least requirements because these models can cause the least damage. You do not need a unique registration number for these weight classes of trailers. Just use the same registration number as you have on your car. Because your trailer now has the same registration number as your car (or towing vehicle), the insurance of the trailer is also linked to your car insurance. The insurance is the only compulsory part for trailers up to 750 kg from before 29-10-2012. Trailers of up to 750 kg from before 29-10-2012 therefore do not require a general periodic inspection.

2. Trailers up to 750kg | after 29-10-2012

Trailers up to 750 kg from after 29-10-2012 have slightly different rules compared to trailers from before 2012. This is due to new regulations that came into effect in 2012. The rules regarding the registration number and insurance are the same. The difference is in the required documents. When your trailer up to 750 kg is from after 29-10-2012, you need to have a vehicle identification. The vehicle identification consists of three parts:

  1. Manufacturer's data
  2. Type approval number
  3. Permitted total mass

You can find the vehicle identification on the type plate of your trailer. The type plate is often on the drawbar. When this information is incorrect or missing you will receive a fine. This fine is approximately 90 euros. A large fine for something that is relatively insignificant. So make sure that you have the correct details.

Drawbar trailer
Drawbar trailer

3. Trailers heavier than 750kg

When a trailer is heavier than 750 kg, it needs its own registration number. This of course also requires its own registration certificate. A trailer heavier than 750 kg must first be inspected by the RDW. Besides the inspection, the trailer also needs a vehicle identification, just like the trailer discussed above.

What does a trailer inspection look like?

During the inspection of trailers heavier than 750 kg, various aspects are examined.

  • First of all, the trailer must comply with the so-called permanent requirements.
  • The brake system and the mechanical coupling of the trailer are tested individually.
  • In the case of a self-built trailer, a brake diagram must also be supplied.
  • Depending on when the trailer was first authorised, the vehicle identification number is stamped into the chassis after approval.
  • After five working days you will receive the registration certificate and you can apply for the number plates.

What does the inspection of a trailer cost?

Of course, there are also costs involved in the inspection. The costs of the inspection are different for trailers that are new or have been used before.

It costs 104.98 euros to test a new trailer. The identification costs 56 euro, the registration in the vehicle register 39 euro and the registration in the vehicle register 9,98 euro. Together this makes an amount of 104,98 euro. The inspection of a used trailer is even more expensive. In addition to the previously mentioned costs, you also have to pay 82 euro for the individual assessment of a used trailer. The inspection of a used trailer therefore costs a total of €186.98.

4. Trailers heavier than 3500kg

750kg heavier trailer

A trailer heavier than 3500kg has the same requirements as a trailer heavier than 750kg. In addition, these trailers must also have a general periodic inspection. This is the only group of trailers that require this.

Where do you get the various supplies?

In the previous paragraphs, different requirements have been mentioned. Now the question is how to get the different items. The type approval number was the first thing to come up for discussion. You obtain the type approval number from the manufacturer of the trailer. When a trailer needs its own registration number and registration certificate, you can apply for one with the RDW. This can be done via the website. Just like the registration certificate, you can also apply to the RDW for the general periodic inspection for your trailer.

Take into account ZZ number plate

If your vehicle does not comply with the rules of the Road Traffic Act in terms of equipment, dimensions or weight, you will be given a ZZ registration plate. You will receive this registration number during the first inspection of your vehicle or trailer. You get a ZZ registration when your trailer is too wide or too heavy, for example. A trailer with a ZZ registration plate does not need a general periodic inspection. However, you are not allowed to drive around with a ZZ registration plate just like that. This is only permitted with an exemption from the RDW or the road authority.

ZZ licence plate trailer
ZZ licence plate trailer

Trailer inspection, what do I need to be aware of?

When you buy a trailer abroad, you have to import it. Make sure you ask for the vehicle details and registration papers at the time of purchase. These papers are called differently in every country, but they all boil down to the same thing. With these data you can go to the RDW to apply for a registration number when necessary. If you have to go to the RDW for the inspection of your trailer but you do not have a registration number yet, you can apply for a one-day licence. You can apply for this when you make the appointment for the inspection. As the name suggests, this registration is only valid for one day. The registration number is only valid on the day of the inspection and is intended for driving to the RDW.

Trailer inspection, what do I need to be aware of?

The conclusion is that you have different requirements for each trailer. In special cases you have to take other things into account, such as importing or a ZZ registration plate. For the most common cases you can use the schedule below.


Trailer (small) <750kg Before 29-10-2012 Trailer (small) <750kg After 29-10-2012 Trailer (small) 750kg – 3500kg Trailer (small) >3500kg
Periodic check No No No


Own registration number (proof)

No No Yes


Vehicle identification No Yes Yes


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