Buying a Used/New Vehicle with a Pennsylvania Title

Pennsylvania titles are used in conjunction with Form MV-4ST, “Vehicle Sales and Use Tax Return/Application for Registration.” This form is only available from authorized agents of PennDOT.

In addition to the Pennsylvania title you will need to provide several items to the agent to complete your title application.

You will need to provide several items to the agent to complete your application. Please take a copy of your current Pennsylvania Drivers License or Pennsylvania Photo Identification. If you are a business or non-profit organization buying a car, please make sure you bring the acceptable identification requirements with you as well.

A copy of your current insurance identification card is required if registration is to be issued. If the vehicle is being given as a gift, the Form MV-13ST, “Affidavit of Gift” must be attached to the title application. This form must be completed by all transferees and transferors and attached to Form MV-1 or MV-4ST for any transfer for which a gift exemption (Exemption 13) for purposes of Pennsylvania Sales and Use Tax is claimed.

Buying a Used Vehicle with an Out of State Title

Out of State titles are used in conjunction with Form MV-1, “Application for Certificate of Title.” This form is only available from authorized agents of PennDOT.

Many times out-of-state lien holders refuse to release the title in their possession to another state unless the lien has been satisfied. Applicants are required to contact their lien holders prior to completing their MV-1 application to determine whether or not the lien holder will release the out of state title to the vehicle owner.

When buying a car which has been titled in another state, the purchaser should check the back of the title carefully. There should be a place for the seller’s signature and the car’s present odometer reading. The seller’s signature may be required to be notarized on some out-of-state titles. It is a good idea to consult a dealer, tag service, notary or the Bureau of Motor Vehicles about out-of-state title transfers.

You will need to provide several items to the agent to complete your application. Please take a copy of your current Pennsylvania Drivers License or Pennsylvania Photo Identification Card. If you are a business or non-profit organization buying a car, please make sure you bring the acceptable identification requirements with you as well.

A copy of your current insurance identification card is required if registration is to be issued. VIN verification is required for out of state vehicles.

If the vehicle is being given as a gift, the Form MV-13ST, “Affidavit of Gift” must be attached to the title application. This form must be completed by all transferees and transferors and attached to Form MV-1 or MV-4ST for any transfer for which a gift exemption (Exemption 13) for purposes of Pennsylvania Sales and Use Tax is claimed.

How to Title and Register Your Out-of-State Vehicle in Pennsylvania

All new residents are required to make application for Pennsylvania title and registration of their vehicle(s) within 20 days of establishing residency in Pennsylvania.

As indicated below, individuals are required to have a valid form of Pennsylvania identification in order to make application to title and register a vehicle in Pennsylvania. Although new residents have 60 days to obtain a Pennsylvania driver’s license, there is nothing to prevent them from obtaining their Pennsylvania driver’s license sooner.

Pennsylvania title procedures require that out-of-state titles be surrendered to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles when applying for a Pennsylvania title.

The current lien holder for out of state titles may require that the vehicle owner refinance the balance of the outstanding lien through a Pennsylvania lending institution and pay the out-of-state lien holder in full. The lien holder will instruct the vehicle owner as to their requirements. A Pennsylvania certificate of title will only be issued when the out-of-state title is submitted with a completed Form MV-1 (this is a restricted form and is not available online. You must obtain it from a messenger, tag agency or any Driver and Vehicle Service Center location) and the title application is processed by PennDOT. A temporary Pennsylvania registration plate may be issued only in those instances where the out-of-state title is submitted with a completed Form MV-1.

In order to register your vehicle(s), you will need to bring the following items with you:

  • A valid title for all of the vehicles you want to register in Pennsylvania, issued in your name, from your previous state; and • Proof of Pennsylvania insurance, such as a valid insurance identification card, declaration page of an insurance policy, a copy of a valid binder or a copy of an application for insurance to the Pennsylvania Assigned Risk Plan for all of the vehicles you will be registering. These documents must indicate both effective and expiration dates. • Completed Form MV-1. Note: Forms MV-1 and MV-4ST are not available online. These forms must be completed by an authorized agent of the Department such as The Imperial Agency. You will need to contact Imperial Auto Tags for assistance with the completion of these forms. • A tracing of the vehicle identification number (VIN) or the verification of the VIN by an inspection mechanic or notary public at a dealership or issuing agent. • Appropriate title, lien, registration fees and sales tax (if applicable). Make checks or money orders payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Please do not send cash. • If you are titling and registering a leased vehicle, the leasing company will also be required to complete Form MV-1L. NOTE: A Power of Attorney may be required from the leasing company.

The Department will only allow agents to issue title and registration documents to customers who provide one of the following credentials for identification purposes: • a valid Pennsylvania Photo Driver’s License • a valid Pennsylvania Photo Identification Card • a valid Pennsylvania Photo Exempt Driver’s License • a valid Pennsylvania Photo Exempt Identification Card • a valid U.S. Armed Forces Common Access Card

Sales Tax

If you hold a valid title issued in another state and, have owned the vehicle at least 6 months before moving to Pennsylvania, you will not be required to pay any sales tax when you register your vehicle in Pennsylvania.

If it has been less than 6 months, you will need to provide your sales tax receipt, or remit PA sales tax. Applicants exempt from Pennsylvania sales tax will list the appropriate Sales Tax Exemption reason code in Sections 1A and/or 1B on Form MV-1.

Vehicle Safety Inspection

A vehicle newly registered in Pennsylvania must be safety inspected within ten (10) days of the registration date. Inspections are performed at official inspection stations (usually a repair garage or a service station with a repair shop). Equipment checks include: lights, brakes, horn, tires, safety belts, exhaust system, mirrors, tag mounting, suspension, turn signals, steering, glazing, wipers, and other major parts of your vehicle.

Inspection fees are posted at official inspection stations. These fees do not include repairs to correct vehicle defects.

Emission Inspection Maintenance

Pennsylvania is one of many states required by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency to have a vehicle emissions inspection & maintenance (I/M) program. The I/M program is a key part of the Commonwealth’s strategy to improve its air quality.

Visit the Drive Clean PA Website or call the customer hotline at 1-800-265-0921 to find out if the county your vehicle is registered in is required to participate in the emissions inspection program.