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Levi King
Levi King


When bringing an ATV or UTV into Wisconsin from their home state, a nonresident can operate their ATV or UTV on designated ATV/UTV corridors and frozen waterways with either a nonresident ATV/UTV trail pass affixed to the ATV/UTV or a valid non-resident 5-day trail use receipt, which should be in possession of the operator. Nonresidents who keep their ATV or UTV in Wisconsin must register their ATV or UTV in Wisconsin.

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A nonresident can operate an ATV or UTV in Wisconsin with an annual nonresident ATV/UTV trail pass issued by the Wisconsin DNR which needs to be clearly displayed in a location forward of the operator.

A nonresident 5-day trail use receipt can be purchased online or at any sales location. The 5-day ATV/UTV trail use receipt must be carried by the operator at all times. Customers who order online can print their receipts at home or visit one of our Go Wild sales agents and receive one at the time of purchase. There is no decal or sticker that is mailed when purchasing the 5-day ATV or UTV trail use receipt.

ATVs and UTVs operating within the state need to be registered as public use, private use, or exempt from registration. Registration decals must be properly displayed, unless the operation is exempt from registration. 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.

ATVs and UTVs are exempt from registration if the vehicle: 1) is owned by a government agency, the name of the agency must be displayed on the exterior of the vehicle; 2) displays a registration decal required by the tribe or band; or 3) is in the state not more than 15 days and used exclusively as part of an advertisement being made for the manufacture of the vehicle.

"All-terrain vehicle" means 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. "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. 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. [PDF]

"Utility-terrain vehicle" means a commercially designed and manufactured motor-driven device that is not a golf cart, low-speed vehicle, dune buggy, mini-truck, or tracked vehicle, 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. What can be registered as an UTV. [PDF]

All ATVs or UTVs are required to be registered in Wisconsin. Public use registration allows operation on any areas open to public riding, frozen surface of any waterways and on private property with landowner permission. Effective July 1, 2012, the registration period will begin on April 1 or the date of issuance/renewal and end on March 31 of the 2nd year following the date of issuance/renewal. The change was made to better serve the users with a registration period more closely aligned with the main riding season.

Effective July 1, 2012, a $5.00 late fee will be assessed to public use registrations that are renewed after the expiration date. The late fee will not be assessed if the renewal is included with application to transfer the ownership of the vehicle. Revenue collected will be placed in the ATV conservation fund.

Effective July 1, 2012, all ATVs and UTVs registered as public use will be required to furnish and display a rear plate in addition to the 2 side decals furnished by DNR,: This change was added after many discussions over the years with various experts and user groups based on surveys and meetings.

Private use registration is for an ATV or UTV used exclusively on private property. Use of the ATV or UTV is by the owner or a member of his/her immediate family only on land owned or leased by the vehicle owner or a member of his/her immediate family.

An ATV or UTV operated on a public trail or corridor needs to display valid Wisconsin Public Use registration or needs to display a valid Nonresident ATV or UTV Trail Pass. Nonresident customers choosing to register their ATV in Wisconsin will be liable to the Department of Revenue for sales tax on the purchase of the machine.

Wisconsin law requires those who use Wisconsin ATV or UTV trails to display either Wisconsin registration or a Nonresident Trail Pass. Funds from this program will be designated for use as trail aids and related costs to enhance all of Wisconsin's ATV and UTV recreation. If the ATV or UTV is kept in Wisconsin it must be registered in the State of Wisconsin. Nonresident customers choosing to register their ATV or UTV in Wisconsin will be liable to the Department of Revenue for sales tax on the purchase of the machine.

  • A Nonresident Trail Pass is required to operate an ATV or UTV not currently registered in Wisconsin on a ATV or UTV trail.

  • An ATV or UTV operated on frozen waters needs to display a valid Wisconsin Public Use ATV/UTV registration OR a Nonresident ATV/UTV Trail Pass.

  • The trail pass must be affixed by its own adhesive in a highly visible location on the forward half of the ATV or UTV.

  • Once affixed, the sticker may not be removed or transferred to another ATV or UTV.

  • The pass expires on March 31 of each year and costs $35.00.

  • A temporary operating receipt (printed on plain white paper) will be issued upon order of an Annual ATV/UTV Trail Pass and allows the customer to operate immediately. Regardless how you place your order, the physical trail pass decal will arrive in the mail in approximately two weeks.

Nonresident annual trail passes may be ordered online on your personal electronic device or over the counter at any sales location.

Nonresident 5-day trail pass available for both UTVs and ATVs. The cost of the 5-day trail pass is $20.00. The 5-Day ATV/UTV Trail Pass must be printed from a home computer or Go Wild location on plain white paper once the purchase is complete. The customer is able to immediately begin riding and will need to carry this document while on the trails. There is no decal or sticker that is mailed when purchasing the 5-Day ATV or UTV Trail Pass.

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A UTV (utility task vehicle) is a four- to six-wheel off-road vehicle equipped with a steering wheel, bucket or bench seating with seatbelts, foot pedals, and a roll bar or cage. Most UTV models have multiple seats for up to six riders. Many come with 4WD or all-wheel drive (AWD) capabilities, though some are strictly 2WD.

Roughly speaking, think of a SxS/UTV as a beefed-up vehicle that will allow you to access parts of the world that may be otherwise unreachable by other vehicles. And, you can bring others along for the journey!

The major difference between ATV and SxS/UTV setups has to do with the steering and seating designs. A UTV has a steering wheel; an ATV has motorcycle-style handlebars. You sit on an ATV by straddling it to ride it like a motorcycle; you sit in a SxS to drive it like a full-size truck, while wearing a seatbelt. A typical SxS also has a roll bar or roll cage for increased safety, and may also have a windshield and even doors.

A SxS is typically larger than an ATV and can tote more passengers and cargo. Polaris UTVs include two-seater, four-seater, and six-seater models. We also have a single-seater if you feel like riding solo. If you want to bring friends or family (or four-legged buddies) along for the ride, or give folks a tour of a property, a UTV is definitely recommended above the single-seater ATV.

Another thing to consider is the relative physicality and comfort of driving an ATV versus a UTV. The straddle seating and handling of an ATV mean a bit more physically demanding ride compared to the car-like driving of a UTV. The cab seating of the UTV makes for a more comfortable drive, especially across many miles and many hours, and relatively easy to enter and exit.

Motocross helmets, originally designed for off-road motorcycle racing, are a sub variety of full-face helmets and make fine choices for UTV and ATV riders as well. They incorporate heavy-duty chin bars and face shields/visors, providing comprehensive protection for your entire head.

You might also key into the availability of expanded safety accessories such as windshields, roofs, lights, and roll-cage enhancements. SxS/UTVs are highly customizable, so you can fit your machine with whatever accessories make it match your personality. 041b061a72


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