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  • Car Registration in Pennsylvania

    SUMMARY: How to Register Your Car in Pennsylvania

    In Pennsylvania, you must register your vehicle in person at a PennDOT office. If you've moved to PA from another state, you must transfer your out-of-state registration to PennDOT. You'll pay registration and titling fees, and you'll need to have the vehicle inspected as part of the registration process.

    Continue reading to learn how to register your car in Pennsylvania.

    NOTE: If you've bought a motorcycle, visit our Motorcycle Registrations page for instructions.

    New to Pennsylvania?

    You have 20 days to title and register your vehicle with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) once you move to the state.

    Before you register your vehicle, you must get:

    • A PA driver's license or ID card, UNLESS you have:
      • A U.S. Armed Forces Common Access Card.
        OR
      • A U.S. Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card.
    • Pennsylvania car insurance.
    • Verification of your vehicle identification number (VIN). You can:
      • Use tracing paper and pencil to provide a tracing of the VIN yourself.
        OR
      • Take your vehicle to a certified inspection mechanic or notary for verification.

    Register your vehicle in person at a PennDOT office. Be sure to take:

    • The vehicle title (must be in your name).
    • Proof of PA insurance.
    • Your VIN verification.
    • Payment for fees via check or money order payable to “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."

    You will need to complete an Application for Certificate of Title (Form MV-1) at the PennDOT office.

    NOTE: If your vehicle is leased, you'll also need the Application for Lessee Information (Form MV-1L), which must be completed by the lessor.

    Register Your Car in PA

    When you buy a new or used vehicle, you will need to title and register it with PennDOT.

    If you buy your vehicle from a dealer, they will usually handle this process for you.

    If you buy a vehicle privately, you'll need to complete the process yourself.

    Registration applications can be made in person at a PennDOT office. You'll need:

    • Proof of ownership:
      • New car: The Manufacturer Certificate of Origin (MCO) OR Manufacture Statement of Origin (MSO).
      • Used car: The current title signed over to you, including an odometer statement.
    • Your PA driver's license or ID card.
    • Proof of car insurance.
    • To have your car safety inspected and emissions inspected (where applicable), within 10 days of the purchase date.
    • Payment for applicable fees.
    • To complete the appropriate application form (available at the PennDOT office):
      • New vehicle: Application for Certificate of Title (Form MV-1).
      • Used vehicle: Vehicle Sales and Use Tax Return/Application for Registration (Form MV-4ST).

    You may ALSO need:

    PA License Plates

    Once you register you car or other vehicle, you'll get a Pennsylvania license plate.

    PennDOT issues a standard license plate as well as several types of special plates. Specialty plate applications usually require additional forms and fees.

    Fees to Register Your Car

    Vehicle registration fees vary by vehicle type in Pennsylvania:

    You'll also pay title fees:

    • Vehicle title: $50.
    • Title WITH a lien recorded: $73.

    If you buy a vehicle from a dealer, you'll usually pay sales tax to them. However, if you buy a car in a private sale, you'll pay sales tax to PennDOT when you register it:

    • 8% if you live in the City of Philadelphia.
    • 7% if you live in Allegheny County.
    • 6% in the rest of Pennsylvania.

    Some PennDOT agents may also charge a transaction fee. Contact the PennDOT office directly for accepted payment methods.

    Required Inspections in PA

    PennDOT requires that all vehicles have a current safety inspection OR are inspected within:

    • 10 days of purchase when purchased in PA.
      OR
    • 10 days of registration IF brought to PA from another state.

    In addition, emissions inspections are required for residents in certain counties. See the Drive Clean Pennsylvania website for a complete list of counties.

    Learn more about vehicle inspections on our Safety and Smog Check Inspections page.

    Military Member Car Registrations

    If you are in the military and a PA resident, regardless of where you are stationed, you can keep your vehicle registered in Pennsylvania and renew your registration online.

    You'll need to:

    NOTE: If your car insurance lapses, you must return your license plate to:

    Bureau of Motor Vehicles
    Return Tag Unit
    P.O. Box 68597
    Harrisburg, PA 17106

    If your vehicle is outside of Pennsylvania, you can apply for a PA title certificate and registration when you return.

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