Pennsylvania Vehicle Registration

Pennsylvania Vehicle Registration: Complete Guide

Pennsylvania Vehicle RegistrationApplying for vehicle registration and title are the first steps you take after you buy a car and before you begin to operate your car in the roadway. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and local law enforcement identify each vehicle on the roadway through their respective registration records. As of 2017, there are over 4.5 million cars registered in Pennsylvania. Run a free VIN check to look the vehicle history of any car, pickup truck or SUV:

Run a Free Vehicle Report:

Some dealerships handle the registration. If this is not the case, then you must register your car with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Motor Vehicle (BMV) under PennDOT. Here at you can get the most important information related to the vehicle registration process:

How to Register a Car in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania car registration process have the following requirements which must be presented in person at the PennDOT office.

The following requirements differ for new versus used cars:

  • Proof of purchase
    • Proof of purchase of new vehicle sent to PennDOT by the dealer or seller (you are not allowed to send it yourself)
    • Used vehicle title signed by seller or dealer
  • Proof of ownership
    • Manufacturer Certificate of Origin (MCO) or Manufacture Statement of Origin (MSO) for the new car
    • Current vehicle title of the used car signed over to you (including an odometer statement)
  • Completed application form (available at the PennDOT BMV)
    • Application for Certificate of Title (Form MV-1) for a new car
    • Vehicle Sales and Use Tax Return/Application for Registration (Form MV-4ST) for a used car

How to Register Your Vehicle as a New Pennsylvania Resident

As a new resident, you are  required to apply for a vehicle title and registration within 20 days of acquiring status as an official resident. Any of the following are valid identification for a resident:

  • A valid Pennsylvania Photo Exempt Driver’s License
  • A valid Pennsylvania Photo Exempt Identification Card
  • A valid US Armed Forces Common Access Card valid US Armed Forces Common Access Card
  • Dependents of Armed Forces Personnel must provide a valid United States Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card (DD Form 1173)

The applicable vehicle registration process follows.

How to Register an Out-of-State Vehicle in Pennsylvania

Present the following upon application:

  • Valid title for the vehicle you want to register issued in your name from your previous state
  • Proof of Pennsylvania insurance
  • VIN tracing or verification by an inspection mechanic or notary public at a dealership or issuing agent
  • Appropriate title, lien, registration fees and sales tax (if applicable; only send checks or money orders payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania)
  • Completed Form MV-1L (PDF) by leasing company for any lease vehicle

How to Register a Vehicle Imported from Another Country

Vehicles brought into the US any foreign country (including Canada) which . These vehicles may or may not meet the requirements in the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act and EPA Emission Standards.

Motor vehicles manufactured not more than 25 model years ago must have a certification label from the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVS) as proof of conformity with US standards. As a  buyer you should have the sales contract verify that a certification label has been attached to the vehicle.

Without this certification label the vehicle can only be imported as a nonconforming vehicle. The importer is required to contract with a US Department of Transportation Registered Importer.

Applicants must submit the following documentation.

  • Application for Certificate of Title (Form MV-1) completed by an authorized agent (with Notarization of the applicant’s signature)
  • VIN tracing or verification by a certified inspection mechanic or notary public
  • Original vehicle proof of ownership documents (English-translated) or US Customs Entry Forms
  • All additional importation shipping documents establishing vehicle ownership and entry into the US
  • Completed US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration  (NHTSA) Form HS-7 or Declaration (Importation of Motor Vehicles and Motor Vehicle Equipment Subject to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety, Bumper and Theft Prevention Standard
  • Copy of properly completed Form EPA 3520-1 supplied to US Customs at the Port of Entry
  • Letter from the vehicle manufacturer with information regarding the vehicle’s safety and EPA compliance
  • If applicable, the original “Bond Release Letter” from the US Department of Transportation, NHTSA. 
  • Pennsylvania sales tax is due on the purchase price of the vehicle (No sales tax exemption is available for military personnel)

For more details, please visit PennDOT’s Imported and Exported Vehicles page.

How to Re-register a Salvaged Vehicle in Pennsylvania

You may apply for a title and register a vehicle previously reported as a total loss (salvaged) but restored to its original operating condition and compliant to the automaker’s specifications and appearance.

  1. Compliance with enhanced vehicle safety inspection conducted at an enhanced vehicle safety inspection station
  2. Form MV-426B, “Application for Reconstructed, Specially Constructed, Collectible, Modified, Flood, Recovered Theft Vehicles and Street Rods,” with all applicable signatures.
  3. Form MV-1 (Application for Certificate of Title) if the applicant’s name does not appear on the face of the certificate of title or salvage
  4. Proof of insurance
  5. Proof of ownership (any of the following):
  • Pennsylvania Certificate of Salvage
  • Certificate of salvage issued by another state or jurisdiction
  • Certificate of title issued by another state or jurisdiction indicating the vehicle was reconstructed in another state or jurisdiction

Not acceptable proof of ownership in Pennsylvania:

  • Form 907A issued by the state of New York
  • Any title, certificate of origin
  • Statement of origin or certificate of salvage that indicates the vehicle is to be used for parts only; is not suitable to be rebuilt or titled; or is not designed, constructed or intended for use on public roadways

Lookup the list of Online Business Partners who are authorized to process Form MV-426B applications for a reconstructed vehicle title accompanied by a

Pennsylvania Certificate of Salvage. Check out PennDOT resources on salvage vehicles for more details.

How to Apply for Vehicle Registration or Renewal for Military Personnel in Pennsylvania

If you are a military personnel, you can either register or maintain a registered vehicle in Pennsylvania or in the jurisdiction in which you are stationed.

If you are registered in Pennsylvania:

  • You may be eligible to apply for renewal for either a one-year or two-year registration period.
  • If you renewed your car’s registration online, you will only be able to print your permanent registration (PennDOT no longer mails a registration card for this mode of renewal)
  • Maintain a valid and current registration and present the registration card to law enforcement when asked or when having a safety inspection (no more PennDOT registration stickers
  • To renew and/or change address:
    • Do it online if you are maintaining a Pennsylvania address
    • Complete Form MV-8 (PDF), “Self-Certification for Proof of Residency” to change your address to an out-of-state or out-of-country address
  • Your vehicle must be inspected within ten (10) days after returning to the commonwealth.
  • Return your registration plate to the PennDOT if your insurance has lapsed or is cancelled by mailing it to:

Bureau of Motor Vehicles
Return Tag Unit
PO Box 68597
Harrisburg, PA 17106-8597

Vehicle Registration Renewal in Pennsylvania

In most cases, renewing your vehicle and/or trailer registration cancan be completed:

  • At any of PennDOT’s Online Messenger services
  • By mail (mailing instructions can be found at the back of the applicable forms)
  • Online with the following required documents:
    • registration plate number
    • title number
    • insurance information
    • odometer reading
    • valid credit card
    • printer (for printing the receipt and a permanent registration credential; PennDOT will no longer mail a registration card for registrations renewed online)

Visit the PennDOT page on vehicle registration renewal for more details.

Vehicle Registration Fees in Pennsylvania

  • Passenger vehicle registration
    • One-year: $38.00
    • Two-year: $76.00
  • Vehicle Registration Change of Address: Free

For more information on other payments or fees, lookup the PennDOT Bureau of Motor Vehicle Schedule of Fees.