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    It's no secret that recreational vehicles like snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are popular in Wisconsin. What you might not know, though, is that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is responsible for implementing the rules concerning these vehicles.

    Both types of vehicles need to be registered, but this is done through the DNR, not the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

    Neither ATVs or snowmobiles need to be titled.

    Snowmobiles

    Snowmobiles may be registered for public or private use. A public registration means the user may ride on any public area that allows snowmobiling, and on private property with the landowner's permission. These registrations cost $30 and are valid for 2 years, starting July 1st and expiring 2 years later on June 30th.

    Private registrations are free, but you may only ride on property that you or an immediate family member owns or leases.

    Your registration must be with you when riding your vehicle. Place your registration decals on prominent spots on both sides of the cowling.

    Visitors to Wisconsin may ride their snowmobile on state land, as long as the vehicle hasn't been inside the state for more than 15 days consecutively. They still need proof that their snowmobiles are currently registered in their home state. If not, or if the time limit is exceeded, a Wisconsin registration is needed.

    When buying a snowmobile from a Wisconsin dealer, you'll receive a validation form after paying the registration fee. Use the validation as proof of registration until your registration certificate and decals arrive in the mail.

    When buying from a private seller or out-of-state dealer, you must complete a Snowmobile Registration Application (Form 9400-210) and take it to a validation station. Again, use the validation as proof of registration until you receive your registration decals.

    If you sell a snowmobile, sign the registration certificate and give it to the new owner.

    Those born before 1985 don't need anything more to operate a snowmobile. However, anyone born after this needs to have a Snowmobile Safety Certificate in order to ride on the state's public land, trails, or frozen waters.

    You may obtain the certificate by taking a DNR snowmobile safety class, which costs $10.

    You must be at least 12 years old and have completed the course before you may ride on public property.

    NOTE: You must obtain a Wisconsin DNR Customer ID Number before completing a safety class. Apply by visiting any DNR office or by calling (888) 936-7463.

    All-Terrain Vehicles

    It can be confusing to know what constitutes an ATV. State lawmakers define an ATV as an engine-driven device weighing 900 pounds or less, 50 inches or less in width, equipped with a seat designed to be straddled by the operator, and which is designed to travel on three or more low-pressure tires.

    ATVs may be registered for public, private, or agricultural use, or a combination of the three.

    Public registrations allow the user to operate an ATV on public areas, including frozen streams and lakes. Users may also ride on private land with the owner's permission. These registrations are valid for 2 years, starting April 1st and expiring 2 years later on March 31st, and cost $30.

    Private and agricultural registrations allow the holder to ride an ATV on private property only, with the consent on the land owner, for $15.

    When buying an ATV from a Wisconsin dealer, you'll be asked to complete a All-Terrain (ATV) or Utility Terrain (UTV) Vehicle Registration Application (Form 9400-376). Use the validated copy of the application to legally operate your ATV until your registration certificate and stickers come in the mail.

    When buying from a private seller or a dealer outside the state, you'll need to complete application and have it processed at a validation center. Use the validation receipt to legally operate your vehicle until you receive your registration certificate and stickers in the mail.

    You may also mail the application to the address listed on the form.

    If you're selling an ATV, be sure to sign the certificate and give it to the buyer. The buyer must have the signed certificate and submit an All-Terrain (ATV) or Utility Terrain (UTV) Vehicle Registration Application (Form 9400-376) to register the vehicle. This needs to be done within 10 days of the purchase.

    Visitors to Wisconsin need to obtain a trail pass for $35 from the DNR to operate their ATVs in the state, even if the vehicle is registered in their home state. If your ATV isn't registered in your home state, you'll also need to obtain a Wisconsin registration by completing a All-Terrain (ATV) or Utility Terrain (UTV) Vehicle Registration Application (Form 9400-376) and paying the appropriate fees.

    Those under 12 years old aren't allowed to drive an ATV on any public road or route. Those at least 12 years old and born on or after January 1, 1988 need to complete a safety education class to ride an ATV on a public road or route. The class costs $10 for a classroom course; online courses are available for a higher fee.

    NOTE: You must obtain a Wisconsin DNR Customer ID Number before completing a safety class. Apply by visiting any DNR office or by calling (888) 936-7463.

    Trailers

    If the combined weight of your trailer and ATV exceeds 3,000 pounds, you must title it by sending:

    • The original Certificate of Title or Manufacturers Statement of Origin (MSO). Make sure it's signed by the dealer or previous owner.
    • A completed Wisconsin Title and License Plate Application (Form MV1).
    • License plate fees, if applicable (plates stay with the trailer).
    • Title fee based on weight.
    • Sales tax.
    • Local sales tax, if applicable.
    • Check or money order made out to Registration Fee Trust.

    Mail to the address on the form.

    Additional Information

    The DNR provides snowmobiling and ATVs guides detailing the rules and procedures concerning each type of vehicle.

    Other Types of Vehicles

    If you're interested in information about recreational vehicles,
    or custom-built vehicles, we have separate sections covering these vehicles.

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