What does the law say about your car and trailer/caravan number plates not matching up? Do they have to be the same?

A trailer falls within the definition of a motor vehicle (as indicated below) therefore, when looking at Regulation 18 of the National Road Traffic Act which requires all motor vehicles to be licenced, it follows that a trailer will be licenced separately.

This means a trailer and a motor vehicle do not have to have the same licence plate / number,  and if you rent a trailer the number plate will not correspond to your motor vehicle and will therefore not be illegal. 

Kindly note the definition of a motor vehicle as defined in the National Road Traffic Act which states the following: 

“Motor vehicle” means any self-propelled vehicle and includes : —

  • a trailer; and 
  • a vehicle having pedals and an engine or an electric motor as an integral part thereof or attached thereto and which is designed or adapted to be propelled by means of such pedals, engine or motor, or both such pedals and engine or motor, but does not include: 
    • any vehicle propelled by electrical power derived from storage batteries and which is controlled by a pedestrian; or 
    • any vehicle with a mass not exceeding 230 kilograms and specially designed and constructed, and not merely adapted, for the use of any person suffering from some physical defect or disability and used solely by such person.
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