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.


Effective December 31, 2016, PennDOT will no longer issue registration stickers as part of your registration/renewal process. For more, visit PennDOT's website.

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.
    • 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.
    • 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 required fees (see below for a breakdown).

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 the BMV.

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.

Make sure you have an active car insurance policy when registering your vehicle.

Compare rates and buy your policy online: Visit the Insurance Center >>

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 BMV 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: $67.
  • Title WITH a lien recorded: $100.

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 Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 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's requires that all vehicles have a current safety inspection OR are inspected within:

  • 10 days of purchase when purchased in PA.
  • 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.


Application for Certificate of Title
Bureau of Motor Vehicles Schedule of Fees
Motor Vehicle Verification of Fair Market Value by the Issuing Agent
Submit this form to PennDOT to verify the fair market value of a car you're selling if that vehicle is older and/or has depreciated significantly in value.
Application for Lessee Information
Application to add, change, OR remove lessee information from a vehicle's title.
Vehicle Sales and Use Tax Return/Application for Registration
Self Certification for Proof of Residency Form
Use this form to certify your residency when applying for a PA car registration if your home address is located out-of-state (due to military service or work).
Affidavit of Gift
Complete this form when transferring ownership of a vehicle as a gift in Pennsylvania. Verifies exemption from paying sales and use taxes.
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