Residents seeking Pennsylvania car registration should begin learning what documents they will need to provide upon their visit to a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) branch. In addition to getting car registration on new and used vehicles, Pennsylvania drivers must have their cars inspected and carry proof of insurance on them at all times. Pennsylvania car registration cannot be completed without proof of inspection and insurance. For more information on auto registration services, read the following sections:
- Pennsylvania vehicle registration information required.
- Where to register a car in Pennsylvania for the first time.
- How to register a new car in Pennsylvania.
- How to register a used car in Pennsylvania.
- Temporary Pennsylvania vehicle registration.
Pennsylvania Vehicle Registration Information Required
To begin the Pennsylvania car registration process, you will need to collect several documents before applying for your license plates. For auto registration, you will need a photo ID card, your vehicle's title, proof of insurance and proof of inspection, also called a vehicle inspection number or VIN. All car registration applicants with vehicles new to Pennsylvania must obtain a safety inspection within 10 days of the date of registration. Other vehicles up for car registry must undergo an annual safety inspection, and residents in some locations must also provide proof of emissions testing. If you need to get car registration for vehicles model year 1975 or newer, emissions testing will be mandatory if you live in one of 25 counties where it is required by law. DMV car registration emissions tests are conducted at inspection stations authorized by PennDOT. Visit their website to learn which counties require emissions testing for vehicle registration purposes and to discover any testing exemptions you may qualify for. You may be exempt from emissions testing if you drive your vehicle less than 5,000 miles per year.
Where to Register a Car in Pennsylvania for the First Time
If you are wondering, "Where should I go to register my car in Pennsylvania?" you are asking the right question. All first-time motor vehicle registration applicants must appear in-person at a PennDOT Service Center location. These offices provide a range of DMV car registration services in counties across the state, and some are open on Saturdays for your convenience. Drivers looking to renew car registration can do so online through a trusted third party provider and can skip the trip to the DMV office.
How to Register a New Car in Pennsylvania
New car registration in Pennsylvania is sometimes handled by the dealer, if you bought your new car from a dealership. PA residents taking care of their own car registration will need to bring the documents listed above to a PennDOT Service Center and complete Form MV-140, Request for Registration. If you are trying to get car registration documents for an out-of-state vehicle, you will also need to complete Form MV-1, Application for Certificate of Title. Car registry fees vary according to the type of vehicle. Drivers who are retired and receiving Social Security or another type of pension may also submit Form MV-371, Application for a Retired Person's Processing Fee on a Vehicle Registration for a discounted registration fee. Motor vehicle registration applicants who desire a personalized license plate will need to ask for Form MV-904, Application for Personalized, Amateur Radio Operator or Press Photographer Registration Plate and pay the additional car registry fee associated with these specialized license plates. PennDOT Service Centers accept credit and debit cards, personal checks and money orders for payment.
How to Register a Used Car in Pennsylvania
The process for how to get car registration completed on a used vehicle is similar to the steps outlined for new cars, except you must submit a different form to PennDOT. The used vehicle registration application includes Form MV-4ST, Vehicle Sales and Use Tax Return/Application for Registration. All of the other vehicle registration documentation is the same as outlined above, including your inspection and emissions reports, proof of insurance and car title. The registration of vehicle process for used cars also allows drivers to choose personalized license plates by submitting Form MV-904, and retired used car owners living on a pension are also eligible for the discount offered by filing Form MV-371. When it comes time to renew car registration, citizens with or without disabilities can save a trip to the DOT office and order PA vehicle registration renewal online through a trusted third-party.
Temporary Pennsylvania Vehicle Registration
A temporary Pennsylvania car registration is sometimes available to those who need to temporarily drive a vehicle on Pennsylvania's roads. These short-term vehicle registration certificates are issued to individuals who meet the following qualifications:
- The temporary car registration applicant must be an out-of-state resident.
- The vehicle must have been purchased within the previous 60 days.
- The applicant possesses adequate insurance on the vehicle and can provide proof of auto insurance.
- The vehicle getting car registration temporarily is only being driven in PA while the owner is in the process of transferring the title to the state in which they live.