What Size Trailer Can I Tow Without a Trailer License?

In the United States, the Department of Transportation governs rules and regulations for all types of vehicles, ranging from bikes to commercial trucks. Drivers who specialize in operating large and heavy vehicles have to obtain a commercial driver’s license, and the same applies to drivers who tow a trailer on their trucks.

Handling a large-sized trailer can be quite challenging, so the driver has to be competent and have the right training and credentials.

Most people don’t know this, but the regulations permit drivers without a trailer license to tow a trailer. This article discusses which trailers can be towed without having a particular license.


Do You Need a License Plate on Your Trailer?

Whether or not you need a license plate on your trailer depends on the state regulations. Moreover, if you are driving from one state to another, it is much wiser to get the license plate.

If you are towing a trailer without a license plate in a state where it is mandatory to have one, you might be slapped with a ticket or let go with just a warning, depending on the officer’s temperament.

Information About Commercial Driving Licenses

A commercial driving license allows drivers to operate large and load-bearing vehicles, such as buses, trucks, cargo vans, and other commercial vehicles. There are different types of licenses in this regard:

  1. Class A Commercial License

This license allows drivers to operate any vehicle that has a gross combined weight higher than 26,001 lbs. Moreover, if the vehicle is towing something, it shouldn’t exceed 10,000 lbs. It allows you to drive the following types of vehicles:

  • Cattle transporters
  • Tanks
  • Tractors bearing trailers
  • Trucks bearing trailers
  1. Class B Commercial License

This license also allows you to operate vehicles with the same gross combined weight and towed vehicle weight. With this type of license, you can operate the following vehicles:

  • Straight trucks
  • Large passenger buses
  • Cargo trucks
  • Trucks bearing small trailers
  • Tractors bearing trailers
  1. Class C Commercial License

This type of license is given to drivers to operate vehicles that have a capacity of 16 or more passengers, including the driver.

Moreover, it can also be issued for operating vehicles that are used to transport hazardous materials. You can operate the vehicles with a Class C commercial license:

  • Small HazMat vehicles
  • Passenger vehicles with 16 or more seats
  • Vehicles similar to the above

What Size Trailer is Permitted Without a Trailer License?

As you can see from the previous section, you need a Class A or Class B commercial driver’s license to operate a truck or tractor that tows a trailer behind it.

However, if you don’t have a class A, B, or C license and you drive in the United States, you can still tow a trailer under the following conditions:

  • The trailer size doesn’t exceed 45 feet
  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is below 10,000 lbs
  • For multiple trailers, the GVWR is less than 26,000 lbs

If you have to tow a trailer that doesn’t fulfill any of the aforementioned conditions, you will need to obtain a Class A, B, or C license.

Which Size Trailer Can You Tow Without Trailer Brakes?

Although rules regarding towing trailers vary from state to state in the US, you are permitted to tow up to 3000 lbs without installing trailer brakes.

A trailer brake isn’t needed for lighter trailers because the vehicle’s braking system is enough to stop the vehicle when needed.

However, you need to check the mounting bracket of the trailer for durability so that it doesn’t collide with the vehicle in case of emergency braking.

If you are handling a trailer without brakes for the first time, make sure to practice maneuvering the vehicle and check its braking and stopping times before heading out on the road.

Moreover, familiarize yourself with its turning radius so that you know how wide you will need to turn to avoid hitting the curb.

If you have to handle a heavy vehicle with a larger trailer, we advise you to get trailer brakes, as this would reduce the reliance on the vehicle’s own brakes and also enhance its safety.

What is the Maximum Speed You Can Go While Towing a Trailer?

The maximum permitted speed you can go while towing a trailer depends on the maximum mass of the entire combination, including the vehicle, trailer, and the goods it is carrying.

If the sum of these exceeds 7700 lbs, you have to maintain a speed limit of 50 miles per hour on roads and 60 mph on highways. It is always advisable to factor in the braking and stopping distance before you decide which speed to drive on.

To Summarize…

This brings us to the end of our guide on what size trailers you can tow without a commercial driver’s license.

Once you ascertain whether or not you can tow a particular trailer, always make sure to follow safety guidelines and protocols so that you can keep yourself, the goods you are moving, and the people around you safe.



Welcome to the Night Helper Blog. The Night Helper Blog was created in 2008. Since then we have been blessed to partner with many well-known Brands like Best Buy, Fisher Price, Toys "R" US., Hasbro, Disney, Teleflora, ClearCorrect, Radio Shack, VTech, KIA Motor, MAZDA and many other great brands. We have three awesome children, plus four adorable very active grandkids. From time to time they too are contributors to the Night Helper Blog. We enjoy reading, listening to music, entertaining, travel, movies, and of course blogging.

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