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All-terrain vehicle (ATV) and utility-terrain vehicle (UTV) registration

The Wisconsin DNR provides registration services for ATVs and UTVs. Only those ATVs and UTVs that meet statutory definitions can be registered and used on public trails. There are many sizes of ATVs and UTVs available for purchase, but not all of them are eligible to be registered in Wisconsin or used on Wisconsin ATV/UTV trails. Vehicles that cannot be registered as ATVs or UTVs can to be operated on private land only, with the consent of the landowner. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation issues titles and/or registration (license plates) for some trailers.

Definition of all-terrain vehicle (ATV) that can be registered in Wisconsin

Wisconsin law ss 340.01(2g) defines an all-terrain vehicle as a commercially designed and manufactured motor-driven device which has a net weight of 900 pounds or less, was originally manufactured with a width of 50 inches or less, equipped with a seat designed to be straddled by the operator and which is designed by the manufacturer to travel on three or more low-pressure or non-pneumatic tires. This includes small or child-sized ATVs. Certain ATVs that do not currently fit the ATV definition may be registered as UTVs, such as ATVs over 900 pounds. What can be registered as an ATV.

Small or child-sized ATVs
  • An all-terrain vehicle that has four wheels and that has either an engine certified by the manufacturer at not more than 130 cubic centimeters or an equivalent power unit. These machines must be registered.
  • Refer to Wisconsin Off-Highway Vehicle Regulations pamphlet LE-500 for small ATV and age-riding restrictions.
Vehicles that cannot be registered as an ATV

The following do not meet legal ATV specifications.

  • Any recreational vehicles or machines that do not meet the statutory specifications for ATVs.
  • An ATV modified with tracks, skis, etc.
  • Machines that can be legally registered as UTVs.
  • An off-road motorcycle.
  • 6-8 wheel amphibious vehicles.
  • A go-cart or golf cart
    • Golf cart: a vehicle in which the speed attainable in one mile does not exceed 20 mph on a paved, level surface, and that is designed and intended to convey one or more persons and equipment to play the game of golf in an area designated as a golf course.
  • A homemade or non-commercially manufactured machine.

Additional definitions

Low-pressure tire

“Low-pressure tire” means a tire that has a minimum width of six inches and is designed to be inflated with an operating pressure not to exceed 20 pounds per square inch as recommended by the manufacturer. Wisconsin law ss 340.01(27g)

Straddled

View a diagram of straddled and not straddled positions.

Definition of utility-terrain vehicle that can be registered in Wisconsin

Wisconsin law ss 23.33(1)(ng) defines an utility-terrain vehicle as a commercially designed and manufactured motor-driven device that is designed to be used primarily off highway, and originally manufactured and equipped with all of the following: a weight, without fluids, of 2,000 pounds or less; four or more low-pressure tires or non-pneumatic tires; steering wheel; tail light; brake light; two headlights; width of not more than 65 inches; seat belts; and roll bar or similar device designed to reduce the likelihood that an occupant would be crushed as the result of a rollover. This includes small or child-sized UTVs. What can be registered as an UTV.

Small or child-sized UTVs
  • A utility terrain vehicle that has four wheels and that has either an engine certified by the manufacturer at not more than 200 cubic centimeters or an equivalent power unit.
  • Refer to Wisconsin Off-Highway Vehicle Regulations pamphlet LE-500 for small UTV and age-riding restrictions.
Vehicles that cannot be registered as an UTV
  • A motor-driven device that meets federal motor vehicle safety standards
  • a UTV modified with tracks, skis, etc.
  • a dune buggy or golf cart
    • Golf cart: a vehicle in which the speed attainable in one mile does not exceed 20 mph on a paved, level surface, and that is designed and intended to convey one or more persons and equipment to play the game of golf in an area designated as a golf course.
  • vehicles that meet the legal definition of a low speed vehicle
  • a mini-truck
  • a homemade or non-commercially manufactured machine

ATV and UTV registration requirements

ATVs and UTVs operating within the state and that meet the statutory definitions need to be registered as public use registration, private use-agricultural registration or private use-nonagricultural registration. Registration decals must be properly displayed. Proof of sales tax payment is required for all sales transactions. Sales tax paid to another state on the ATV or UTV may be claimed as a credit to reduce the sales tax payable. Any county tax or similar tax paid in the other state may be claimed as a credit to reduce county tax payable.

Exemptions to Registration

ATVs and UTVs are exempt from registration under the following conditions.

  • Weekend exemption. A person may operate an ATV or UTV in this state during the first full weekend in June of each year without registering the recreational vehicle
  • The ATV or UTV is brought into Wisconsin by a nonresident for use on public trails, and it either has a nonresident annual ATV/UTV trail pass adhered to the sides, or the operator is carrying a 5-day trail use receipt. Nonresidents who keep their ATV or UTV in Wisconsin must register their ATV or UTV in Wisconsin.
  • Is owned by a government agency. The name of the agency must be displayed on the exterior of the vehicle
  • Displays a registration decal required by a tribe or band
  • Is in the state not more than 15 days and is used exclusively as part of an advertisement for the manufacture of the vehicle.

Late fee: There is a $5.00 late fee charged for the renewal of your public use registratoin for ATV or UTV if the current registration decal has expired.

Transfer of ownership

fee: $5 to transfer; registration is an additional cost.

Upon transfer of ownership of an ATV or UTV that is registered for public or private use, the seller must give the ATV or UTV registration certificate card to the buyer at the time of the transfer. The buyer must complete an application for transfer within 10 days after the date of the transfer. ATV and UTV dealers are required to submit registration application to the DNR within 5 days after the date of sale and furnish the buyer with a validated (i.e. signed by dealership) registration receipt.

Display of decals and rear registration plate

ATVs and UTVs registered with the DNR are issued two decals. The decals must be displayed on both sides of the machine by its own adhesive, in a position which is forward of the operator and visible to law enforcement. Until decals are received by mail, operators must carry the temporary operating receipt issued for the machine. Operators should carry all necessary registration cards and paperwork with them for display to a law enforcement officer upon request.

In addition, all ATVs and UTVs registered as public use will be required to furnish a rear plate that displays the registration number. Plates can be created or purchased. Plate specifications:

  • The plate must be a minimum of 4" in height and 7 1/2" wide and made of white material.
  • The registration number must be made of black lettering a minimum of 1 1/2" high with a minimum 3/16" stroke.
  • Only the four registration numbers and two letters need to be on the plate. The registration number can be found on both the decals and the registration card.
  • The owner must maintain the plate so it is in legible condition; and the plate shall be attached to the rear of the vehicle.

ATV and UTV registration types

Wisconsin public registration

fee: $30 first-time registration; $30 2-year renewal

Valid for legal operation on public trails, road routes, frozen waterways and private property. Not valid for agricultural use. Valid for up to 2 years, beginning April 1 and expiring two years later on March 31. Machines registered for public use are required to display their registration ID number on a rear plate.

Wisconsin private use, agricultural registration

fee: $15, valid until ownership is transferred

Allows private registration for agricultural use if the machine is used for an agricultural purpose. Agricultural purpose includes a purpose related to the transportation of farm implements, equipment, supplies, or products on a farm or between farms. It is valid during operation on public roads for agricultural purposes, but is not valid for operation on public, frozen waterways or public lands open to ATVs/UTVs. Owners may purchase an additional registration for their machines for public use if they intend to ride on public trails. Private use - agricultural registration remains valid until ownership is transferred.

Wisconsin private use, non-agricultural registration

fee: $15, valid until ownership is transferred

Valid for use exclusively on private lands owned by the applicant or by an immediate family member. (ss 23.335(1)(j)[exit DNR] “Immediate family” means persons who are related as spouses, who are related as siblings, or who are related as parent and child.) This type of registration remains valid until ownership is transferred.

Nonresidents

When bringing an ATV or UTV into Wisconsin from their home state, a nonresident can operate their ATV or UTV on Wisconsin public trails with either a nonresident ATV/UTV trail pass affixed to the ATV/UTV, or if the operator is in possession of a valid non-resident 5-day trail use receipt. Nonresidents who keep their ATV or UTV in Wisconsin must register their ATV or UTV in Wisconsin.

Municipal & government use

fee: $5

Used for state, county, city and village owned ATVs and UTVs. Machines registered for municipal or government use are required to display their registration ID number on a rear plate Note: Government owned machines clearly displaying the name of the municipality or government are exempt from displaying registration decals and an ID plate.

Commercial ATV/UTV dealer

fee: $90; additional decals/certificates $30 each

If you are an ATV and/or UTV manufacturer, dealer, distributor, rental agency, or any combination thereof and operate this business within this state, you must register with the department and obtain a Commercial ATV/UTV certificate. The DNR will then issue you a commercial dealer certificate, three sets of registration decals and three certificate cards. Your commercial registration decal must be affixed to a plate (of your own design) that is clearly displayed and mounted to each ATV or UTV you lease, rent, offer for test-drives or otherwise allow to be operated as part of your business. The registration period will begin on April 1 or the date of issuance/renewal and end on March 31 of the second year following the date of issuance/renewal.

  • Application for Commercial ATV/UTV Dealer Registration (Form 9400-589)
  • Allow up to two weeks for the delivery of your materials.
  • How to register your ATV or UTV

    All decals and certificates are mailed regardless of the type of service option you select.

    Online

    Visit GoWild.wi.gov to complete your ATV or UTV registration. You can renew the registration of an ATV or UTV already listed in your name, as well as register a recently purchased ATV or UTV into your name. Online registration allows you to print a temporary operating receipt valid for 21 days that you may use to ride while we mail your decals and registration card. You can also order replacement decals and registration cards.

    DNR service centers

    DNR service locations can renew the registration of an ATV or UTV already listed in your name, as well as register a recently purchased ATV or UTV into your name. DNR will provide a 21-day temporary operating receipt that you may use to ride your ATV or UTV prior to receiving the registration decals in the mail. You can also order replacement decals and replacement registration cards. Registration services are also available for boats, off-highway motorcycles and snowmobiles.

    By mail

    Complete the ATV/UTV Registration Application Form 9400-376 and mail the application with appropriate fees to the address provided on the form. If the decals have expired, applicants must wait to receive materials in the mail before they can operate their ATV or UTV.

    Purchased from a commercial ATV/UTV Wisconsin dealer

    At the time of the sale, the Wisconsin ATV/UTV dealer will complete and submit an ATV/UTV registration application on your behalf. Your copy of the application form signed by the dealer or a temporary operating receipt must be carried with you while operating the ATV or UTV until your decals and registration certificate arrive in the mail. Dealers are to submit registration to the DNR within five days of the sale.

    Updating your contact information

    Keeping your address up to date is important, especially if you want to receive a renewal notice by mail. Adding your email address allows you to receive renewal notices well before the April 1 deadline. Access your Wisconsin DNR customer account at GoWild.wi.gov to update your customer record. You can call also send an e-mail to CSWEB@wisconsin.gov or contact the DNR Call Center.

    ATV or UTV was sold or junked

    To notify the department, send a brief email to CSWEB@wisconsin.gov notifying us that your ATV or UTV has been sold; include in the email your first and last name, customer identification number (if known), the ATV’s or UTV’s Wisconsin registration number (i.e. AT-9999-ZZ or UT-9999-ZZ), or any other information that may assist us in identifying the ATV or UTV. The ATV or UTV will be removed from your record of active registered recreational vehicles.

    Last revised: Monday November 04 2019