Paperwork Required When Buying a Car in Pennsylvania

Last Updated on March 22, 2018 by Jason Mason

When buying a car in Pennsylvania, you must handle some paperwork for registration and title application. If you buy a car from a dealer, they will handle the necessary paperwork on your behalf. You must obtain a car’s title from the seller in order to register your car with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). Continue reading this article to get more information about the paperwork required when buying a car in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Car Buying Paperwork

The most important document that you must obtain from the seller is the certificate of title. Make sure this certificate includes:

  • Your name and address.
  • A current odometer reading.
  • The signature and name of the seller.

The title must be signed in the presence of Pennsylvania DOT agent. If the title is missing, ask the seller to apply for a duplicate copy and sign it over to you.

Vehicle Inspections

If there is no valid inspection sticker on a newly purchased vehicle, you have to take your vehicle for inspection within 10 days from the date of purchase.

Title and Register the Car in Pennsylvania

As a new owner of the car that you have purchased, you must transfer the title in your name and register the car. To do so, you can either apply for a new registration and license plates or transfer the registration and license plates from your old vehicle. To register or transfer the title, you must go in person to the PennDOT. You will need to take with you:

  • The certificate of title certificate.
  • Proof of car insurance.
  • Proof of identity (Pennsylvania driver’s license).
  • Registration and title application forms: Form MV-1 (Application for Certificate of Title). Form MV-4ST (Application for Registration).

You can also apply for a temporary registration which is valid for 90 days.

Fees and Taxes

You must pay applicable registration and title fees and sales tax as shown below:

  • $36 registration fee.
  • $50 title transfer or new title fee.
  • $73 if the title has a lien.
  • Sales tax which is 6% of the purchase price (8% of purchase price for City of Philadelphia residents and 7% of purchase price for Allegheny County residents).

Vehicle History Reports

A vehicle history report is not needed when registering or transferring a title. However you need this report when buying a car. Based on a vehicle identification number, vehicle history reports usually show the vehicle’s:

  • Accident history.
  • Damage and repair history.
  • The odometer reading.

This report can help you verify information provided by the seller about the vehicle that you are buying.

Vehicle Fraud in Pennsylvania

Vehicle frauds come in many forms, such as odometer rollback, forged documents or misleading information from the seller. If you suspect any fraud or are a victim of vehicle fraud, report the matter immediately to the Pennsylvania DOT. You can do so by filling and submitting Form RMO-1VR (Fraudulent Misuse of Motor Vehicle Credentials) or by calling Pennsylvania DOT at (800) 932-4600.