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  • Title Transfers in Pennsylvania

    What is a Title Transfer?

    A title is a legal document that indicates ownership of property, including vehicles. When a vehicle is bought or sold in the state, a title transfer must be done to allow the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to keep track of who owns the vehicle. These transfers may be done at tag service offices located throughout the state.

    Title transfers are involved with matters such as:

    • Buying a vehicle
    • Selling a vehicle
    • Paying off a loan
    • Transferring a vehicle to a family member
    • Giving a vehicle to an individual
    • Donating a vehicle to a charity
    • Inheriting a vehicle
    • Making a name correction

    Selling a Vehicle

    When selling a vehicle, there's usually a lot of money involved, and often a potential buyer feels some apprehension. Obtaining a vehicle history report is an excellent way to calm the nerves of a prospective buyer, and should facilitate the sale of the vehicle.

    Once you've sold the vehicle, you'll need to transfer the title by:

    1. Locating the title.
    2. Correctly listing the buyer's name and address on the reverse side of the title.
    3. Accurately filling in the odometer reading.
    4. Printing and signing your name on the title before a notary public.
    5. Removing the license plate (you can keep it or give it to PennDOT).
    6. Handing over the title to the buyer, who will complete the process by following the steps mentioned below.

    While it's not required, it's a good idea to also complete a bill of sale.

    Buying a Vehicle

    New Cars

    In these situations, the dealer will take care of the title transfer. If the dealer fails to do so, however, contact PennDOT at 1-800-932-4600 for instructions on how to proceed.

    Used Cars

    Vehicle purchases rank second only to housing purchases in terms of dollars spent. So, obviously, you'll want to proceed cautiously when buying a vehicle. Searching online for used car information is a great―and efficient― way to do your homework.

    While online, you might as well look for the best financing and insurance rates. You might be able to save money on both, and apply those savings toward the car purchase. Also, don't forget about getting a vehicle history report before you make your final decision; doing so can uncover hidden problems.

    Once you've made your decision and purchased the vehicle, you'll need to transfer the title by:

    1. Obtaining the title from the seller (be sure to do this).
    2. Making sure the seller has properly completed the appropriate sections (see above section).
    3. Appearing before a notary public, and then printing and signing your name on the title.
    4. Going to a tag service office.
    5. Completing a Vehicle Sales and Use Tax Return/Application (Form MV-4ST) (available at a PennDOT office).
    6. Showing proper photo identification.
    7. Paying the $50 title fee.
    8. Paying the use tax.

    You should have the vehicle inspected within 10 days of purchasing the vehicle if the inspection and emission stickers have expired.

    You can register your vehicle at any Driver and Vehicle Service Center.

    Removing a Lien

    This procedure varies according to a few factors, such as whether it's a paper or electronic title, and the lienholder involved. For information on how to handle your situation, contact PennDOT at 1-800-932-4600.

    Transferring to Family

    For the sake of this section, "family" refers to these types of individuals:

    • Spouse
    • Parent
    • Child
    • Grandparent
    • Grandchild
    • Siblings

    PennDOT requires that transfers between family members be completed the same way as those between non-relatives. This means that the use tax needs to be paid, too. So, to process a family member transfer, follow these instructions:

    1. Seller must locate the title.
    2. Seller must list the buyer's name and address on the reverse side of the title.
    3. Seller must fill in the odometer reading.
    4. Seller must sign the title before a notary public.
    5. Seller must remove the license plate.
    6. Buyer must get the title from the seller (be sure to do this).
    7. Buyer should verify that the seller has properly completed the appropriate sections.
    8. Buyer must sign the title before a notary public.
    9. Buyer should go to a tag service office to finish the process.
    10. Buyer must fill out a Vehicle Sales and Use Tax Return/Application (Form MV-4ST) (available at a PennDOT office).
    11. Buyer must provide proper photo identification.
    12. Buyer must pay the $50 title transfer fee.
    13. Buyer must pay the use tax.

    The buyer should be sure to have the vehicle inspected within 10 days of the sale if the inspection and emission stickers have expired. The buyer can register the vehicle at any Driver and Vehicle Service Center.

    Gifting a Vehicle

    When doing a title transfer after you've received a vehicle as a gift, you don't have to pay sales tax. But, you must prove that sales tax was paid by the giver when that person bought the vehicle. Read the instructions on the Affidavit of Gift (Form MV-13ST) for details on how to do this. Both you and the giver must complete the form.

    Other than that, you'll need to finish the transfer by:

    1. Receiving the title from the seller (be sure to do this).
    2. Checking that the seller has properly completed the appropriate sections.
    3. Appearing before a notary public, and then printing and signing your name on the title.
    4. Going to a tag service office to finish the process.
    5. Completing a Vehicle Sales and Use Tax Return/Application (Form MV-4ST) (write $0 for the purchase price).
    6. Showing proper photo identification.
    7. Paying the $50 title transfer fee.

    If the inspection and emission stickers have expired, have the vehicle inspected within 10 days of when you were given the vehicle.

    You may register the vehicle at any Driver and Vehicle Service Center.

    Donating a Vehicle

    While donating a vehicle to a charity is a wonderful gesture, there are many things to consider before doing so. Read our Car Donation article for more information. If you need more information, consult a tax attorney.

    Inheriting a Vehicle

    The proper way to handle a title transfer following the death of the vehicle owner varies tremendously according to a number of factors. You might want to consult a probate attorney for guidance, or at least be sure to read the PennDOT fact sheet that covers many scenarios.

    But, here's how to handle the common situation of when the heir is named in the will, and the will isn't in probate:

    1. Locate the title.
    2. Make a copy of the will.
    3. Travel to a tag service office.
    4. Provide proper photo identification.
    5. Complete the applicable sections the Notification of Assignment/Correction of Vehicle Title Upon Death of Owner (Form MV-39).
    6. Complete a Vehicle Sales and Use Tax Return/Application (Form MV-4ST) (available at a PennDOT office).
    7. Attach either the original death certificate, or the appropriate section of a Notification of Assignment/Correction of Vehicle Title Upon Death of Owner (Form MV-39) filled out by the attending physician or the funeral director.
    8. Pay the $50 fee (no fee if you're the spouse).

    You should have the vehicle inspected within 10 days of the sale if the inspection and emission stickers have expired. You can register the vehicle at any Driver and Vehicle Service Center.

    Don't forget about your insurance needs; visit our Insurance Center to look for providers and find the best rates.

    Making Name Corrections

    Changing a Name

    To change your name on a title:

    1. Complete an Application for Correction or Change of Name (Form MV-41A).
    2. Attach the documents required (see the form); this varies according to the reason for the name change.
    3. Go to a tag service office.
    4. Show proper photo identification.
    5. Pay the $50 fee (in some situations, this fee will be waived, as described on the form).

    Deleting a Name

    To delete your name from a title:

    1. Go to a tag service office, along with everyone else named on the title.
    2. Bring the title.
    3. Complete a Vehicle Sales and Use Tax Return/Application (Form MV-4ST) (available at a PennDOT office).
    4. Provide proper photo identification.
    5. Pay the $50 fee.

    Adding a Name

    To add your name to a title:

    1. Visit a tag service office, along with everyone else named on the title.
    2. Be sure to have the title with you.
    3. Complete a Vehicle Sales and Use Tax Return/Application (Form MV-4ST).
    4. Show proper photo identification.
    5. Pay the $50 fee.