How to Register a Vehicle in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania law requires that motor vehicle owners must register their vehicle with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) before taking it on the road. Both new and second-hand vehicles must be registered, regardless of whether they are purchased from a dealer or an individual. In addition, new Pennsylvania residents who have registered their vehicle in another state must register their vehicle in Pennsylvania. The initial vehicle registration must be done in person, and registration renewals must be done annually, either in person, online or by mail.
If you are registering a motor vehicle in Pennsylvania for the first time, you must complete the following steps:
- All vehicles in Pennsylvania must be insured. When you register your vehicle you must provide proof of insurance. The easiest way to do this is to obtain auto liability insurance.
- Collect the necessary paperwork. If you bought your vehicle from a dealer, then the dealer will have sent the necessary paperwork to the Pennsylvania Department of Transport (PennDOT). In all other circumstances you will need to collect the following additional papers:
- Vehicle title.
- A completed form MV-1.
- If registering a used vehicle from Pennsylvania you will need a completed form MV-4ST.
- If you want personalized registration plates, you will also need a completed form MV-904.
- If registering an out of state vehicle, you will also need a vehicle inspection number (VIN) inspection certificate.
- Visit your Driver and Vehicle Service Center, and bring the completed forms with you.
- A vehicle newly registered in Pennsylvania must undergo a safety inspection within ten days of the registration date. Authorized PennDOT inspection stations (normally a service station with repair facilities) can perform inspections.
REGISTRATION FEESWhen registering your vehicle at a PennDOT service center, you will be required to pay the registration fee of $36 for a motor vehicle or $18 for a motor cycle. If you receive social security benefits or other retirement income and your total income is less than $19,200 per year, your registration will cost $10.
RENEWING YOUR VEHICLE REGISTRATIONOwners of motor vehicles in Pennsylvania are required to renew their vehicle registration annually, and can do so in person, online or by mail. See our Registration Renewal section for complete details.
- The process for registering a motorcycle is generally the same as a car registration; however, there are different procedures for boat registration and custom car registration.
- Pennsylvania requires most motor vehicles (exceptions are motorcycles and registered antique, collectible or street rods) to undergo emission testing once each year. PennDOT will notify you when your vehicle is due to be tested.
- Auto Insurance is needed to legally operate all vehicles in Pennsylvania.
- See also Renewing Your Vehicle Registration.
- See also Title Transfers and Car Insurance.