A certificate of title issued by the state of Pennsylvania is a document that proves legal ownership of a vehicle. A title must be obtained when an individual purchases a new vehicle. A title transfer must also be completed when a used vehicle is sold or gifted, or when a vehicle changes hands as a result of the death of the vehicle's owner.
OBTAINING A TITLE FOR A NEW VEHICLE:
For new vehicles, the licensed dealer that sold the vehicle typically will accept and submit the required titling information and fees on behalf of the buyer. However, buyers wishing to handle the titling independently can do so. Those interested in applying for a new title without the dealer's assistance should refer to the Buying a Vehicle page on the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) website.
TRANSFERRING A TITLE ON A USED VEHICLE:
Sale/Purchase or Gift of a Used Vehicle
When you purchase a used vehicle, or obtain one as a gift, the title must be legally transferred into your name. This is done by obtaining the following documents, and submitting them along with the appropriate fees to PennDOT:
- The current title, with the assignment completed by the seller or donor (signing the title over to you), and notarized. The title must include the federal odometer disclosure, if the vehicle is less than ten years old.
- If the title does not indicate the date of sale and selling price, a completed Bill of Sale, signed by both current and new owner and notarized, is required.
- Complete a Vehicle Sales and Use Tax Return/Application for Registration (Form MV-4ST). A PennDOT office or an authorized agent will have to be contacted for this as this form is not available for download off the website.
- If the current inspection/emission stickers have expired you must have your car inspected within 10 days of purchase.
- Valid Pennsylvania driver's license or identification card.
- Proof of liability insurance.
Along with the appropriate transfer of title documents above, you will need to submit the following fees
- $51 title transfer fee
- $75 lien recording fee, if applicable
- 6% sales tax (7% in Allegheny county and Philadelphia) of the current market value or purchase price.
Transfer of Title Following Death of Vehicle Owner
In the event of the death of the vehicle owner, the title is often transferred to the heirs or someone else identified in the owner's will. The procedures and fees for this type of transfer are similar to those outlined above. In addition, it is important to determine how the estate of the deceased has been settled by the heir(s).
In some cases, the heirs may need to provide copies of court orders, the death certificate and the will (or a notarized statement of its contents), if there is one.
For more information on title transfers following the death of a vehicle owner, refer to the PennDOT Fact Sheet
or call (800) 932 4600.
Appropriate title transfer documents and fees should be submitted to:
Bureau of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 68031
Harrisburg, PA 17106-8031
- Contact the PennDOT if you wish to add, remove or change a name on a vehicle title for reason other than those discussed above.
- If there is an existing lien on the vehicle, there will be additional requirements for transferring the title.
- A valid title provides proof of ownership of the vehicle. However, remember that a title transfer does not entitle the new owner(s) to legally operate the vehicle. For this, refer to the appropriate license and registration information.