License Plates in Pennsylvania
A Pennsylvania DMV license plate provides easily-visible proof that a vehicle has been properly registered with the state. Passenger vehicles with valid PA car registration plates have gone through all the state-mandated steps to receive approval to operate on Pennsylvania’s roadways. Law enforcement requires that all drivers get license plates in order to quickly identify a vehicle and its driver by running the car tag number through their on-board computer. Find out more about getting license plates, including how you can obtain tag replacements if you lose your tag, how you go about tag renewals and how to transfer license plates from one owner to another owner by studying the information below.
Types of License Plates in Pennsylvania
Depending on the type of PA DMV license plate that best suits your needs, you can choose from several kinds of auto tags. Pennsylvania car registration plates include the following:
- Temporary plates allow you to drive your car temporarily until your new registration plates arrive in the mail. Temporary plates are usually issued by car dealers and can be valid up to 90 days.
- Standard issue car plates are the permanent DMV car tags that are most often seen on registered PA vehicles. The basic PA license plate features the state’s website and a simple white, blue and gold design.
- Special organization plates allow approved non-profit organizations to create registration plates to advocate their interests.
- Personalized plates bear unique alpha-numeric identification marks, chosen by the car owner and approved by the state. PA drivers pay an additional fee to get tags personalized in this manner.
- Military registration plates represent a wide range of military honors, organizations and branches of service.
- Specialty vehicle plates are available to designate teen drivers and another features the phrase, “In God We Trust.”
- Disability parking plates are issued to help people with disabilities park in designated handicapped parking spots.
How to Apply for a License Plate in Pennsylvania
If you need to know how to get license plate tags for the first time, note that you must apply in person at an authorized Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) location. These include messenger service offices and PennDOT driver and vehicle service centers. If you purchase a vehicle from a dealership, the dealer should take care of the DMV license plate registration process for you. If you must take care of it yourself, be sure to bring the vehicle title, your proof of insurance, vehicle identification number inspection (if required) and payment for the new registration plates fee.
How to Renew License Plate Tags in Pennsylvania
If you are wondering how to renew license plate tags in PA, note that you can do so online, by mail, at a messenger service office or at any driver and vehicle service center location. When renewing license plate tags online, you will print a receipt to keep in your car for up to 30 days, to show proof that you have renewed your tags while waiting for your new tag or stickers to arrive in the mail. Documents needed for license plate renewal include your title number, plate number, insurance information, odometer reading and your renewal notice if you received one. Keep in mind that you may go through the vehicle registration renewal process at the same time as you renew your tags in Pennsylvania.
How to Replace License Plates in Pennsylvania
Act 133 of 2008 canceled PennDOT’s requirement to replace license plates in Pennsylvania every 10 years. Now, it is up to owners to decide how to replace license plate tags when a plate is too worn or damaged to continue using it. Additionally, you must promptly replace any DMV license plate that has been lost, stolen or mutilated. Complete the Application for Duplicate Registration Card, Replacement Registration Plate or Weight Class Sticker and submit it in person at a PA DMV location. You may also mail your application to replace tags to the address printed on the form. Note that replacing tags by mail adds another week or two before you will receive your new tag.
How to Transfer License Plates in Pennsylvania
You may obtain a new car registration plate for a newly-purchased vehicle, or transfer a license plate from one vehicle to another. An authorized PennDOT agent can walk you through the steps to get license plate transfers on vehicles already titled in Pennsylvania. The agent must complete the correct form to indicate that you are transferring a plate from another car instead of obtaining new license plates for your vehicle.
Pennsylvania License Plate Fees
The owners of most private vehicles in PA will pay a basic fee for a new license plate or to renew license plate registration each year. Obtaining a replacement plate in PA and transferring a license plate from one vehicle owner to another incur separate fees.
License Plate Lookups in Pennsylvania
A license plate lookup is a way of obtaining the history associated with a certain DMV license plate and its owner. PennDOT offers an online service for obtaining your own individual driving record, which includes car registration plate information. Although you are free to get license plate information and history on vehicles owned by you, privacy laws prevent you from ordering information about another person’s license plates or their driving record.