P.J.'s Fabrication, Inc.
P.O. Box 880
Stanfield, OR 97875
Dear Ms. Jones:
This responds to your request for an interpretation of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 115, Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). You explained that P.J.'s Fabrication (P.J.), which manufactures trailers, entered into a contract with Coulson Commander Trailers (Coulson) to manufacture trailers that will be marketed under Coulson's name. Skip Jones of your company has told Dorothy Nakama of my staff that he does not believe Coulson has any manufacturing capability or that Coulson manufactures trailers. You ask whether under Standard No. 115, P.J. assigns the VIN to the vehicles. The answer is yes.
S4.1 of Standard No. 115 specifies that "Each vehicle manufactured in one stage shall have a VIN that is assigned by the manufacturer." The term "manufacturer" is defined at 49 U.S.C. 30102(a)(5)(A) as a person "manufacturing or assembling motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment." According to the information provided in your letter, P.J. fits this definition of a manufacturer. Moreover, you also state that "P.J.'s accepts responsibility for warranty work and quality control to meet DOT specifications." This statement indicates that P.J. is certifying the trailers' compliance with the Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS's), as a manfacturer must under our certification requirements. Accordingly, all the information presented to us indicates that P.J. is the trailer manufacturer, and it is therefore appropriate for P.J. to assign the VIN to the trailers.
As noted above, you indicate that P.J. is certifying the trailers' compliance with all applicable FMVSS's. Since FMVSS No. 115 applies to the trailers and requires each new trailer to have a VIN, P.J. must assign a VIN to the vehicle in order to correctly certify that the vehicle meets the FMVSS's (namely, FMVSS No. 115). In other words, since the FMVSS's require a VIN, the trailers must have a VIN by the time P.J. certifies the vehicles as complying with the FMVSS's.
You also asked which company issues the manufacturer's statement of origin (MSO), that your letter referred to as the "Certificate of Origin." Since MSOs are regulated by state law, for information about each state's requirements, you must contact the state's department of motor vehicles. A source of information about each state's requirements is the American
Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), 4600 Wilson Blvd., Suite 1000, Arlington, Virginia 22203. The telephone number for the AAMVA is (703) 522-4200. I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions, please contact Dorothy Nakama of my staff at this address or by telephone at (202) 366-2992.
Philip R. Recht Chief Counsel