Title Transfer Pennsylvania

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When you buy or sell a car in Pennsylvania, you’ll need to complete a title transfer. This can be done at your local PennDOT office for a fee of $58.
You bought a new car! Congrats to you! To make it official, you’ll need to get the title transferred properly. This is as important as kicking the tires and getting the keys.
In Pennsylvania, this is a fairly straightforward process, but it’s important to be compliant with PennDOT and state law. In this article, the car insurance comparison and broker app Jerry tell you everything you need to know about title transfer in Pennsylvania.

What does “title transfer” mean?

A car’s certificate of title states who owns the vehicle. When you buy or sell a vehicle, the ownership—and also the title—of the car transfers from one party to another.
There are two basic steps to this process:
  • The buyer signs the back of the title, releasing ownership of the vehicle
  • The seller brings the endorsed title to the DMV to finalize the transfer
The process also requires additional paperwork in Pennsylvania to complete the title transfer process. The documents you’ll need are things like proof of insurance, an odometer disclosure agreement, and lien information.

Who does the title transfer?

Who is responsible for the title transfer varies. It depends on how and where the car is bought and sold.
If you purchase a vehicle at a dealership in Pennsylvania, the dealer typically takes care of the title paperwork.
If you get a new-to-you car in a private purchase, you’re responsible to complete the title transfer process. 

Reasons for a title transfer

While there are several reasons for doing a title transfer, the most common reasons are that a car has been bought or sold, or the car owner has relocated.
You will also need a title transfer if you’re:
  • Donating a vehicle
  • Gifting a vehicle
  • Inheriting a vehicle
  • Paying off a vehicle loan
Key Takeaway: A car title is a document stating who owns the car. When buying or selling a vehicle, the title must be transferred to the new owner.
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Car title transfer in Pennsylvania

Buying from a private seller

To have a car title transferred into your name, you and all the sellers listed on the title must go together to a PennDOT agent. You’ll fill out the back of the title in front of the PennDOT agent with:
  • Your name, address, and signatures
  • Lienholder information if you're financing the vehicle
In addition to the car title, you will also need:
  • The Vehicle Sales and Use Tax Return/Application for Registration
  • A tracing of the vehicle identification number (VIN) attached to your application IF:
    • You bought the vehicle from a non-resident
  • The vehicle is a truck, motorhome, or truck-tractor
  • Your PA driver's license or ID card
  • Proof of car insurance, such as:
    • An insurance card
    • Your insurance policy declaration page or a copy of it
    • A copy of a valid insurance binder
  • A copy of your application to the Pennsylvania Assigned Risk Plan
  • Payment for title fees and taxes
NOTE: The vehicle must have valid safety and emissions inspection stickers OR you must have the car inspected within 10 days of the sale date.
Key takeaway: In Pennsylvania, the car buyer and seller complete a title transfer with a PennDOT agent.

Buying from a dealer

Usually, the dealer handles the title transfer when you purchase a car from a Pennsylvania dealership.

Registering a car in Pennsylvania

You’ll also register the vehicle when you transfer the title. Registration is proof that you can legally drive on the streets and is renewed yearly.
In Pennsylvania, the base registration fee is $36. Depending on where you live, an additional $5 county fee may apply.
If you’re an eligible senior, you pay only $10 for the annual registration fee. Qualified seniors have Retired Status and receive social security or other pensions that don’t exceed $19,200 annually.

Finding insurance for your vehicle

Title transfer or not, before you can get behind the wheel of your new (or new-to-you) vehicle you’ll need car insurance.
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If you still have a loan on your car, you’ll need to call your lender. Ask them to help you and tell you how to sell and transfer the title of your financed vehicle.
In Pennsylvania, all parties listed on the title must sign in the presence of a local PennDOT agent. There are lines for the seller’s and buyer’s signatures on the back of the title. The agent will direct you where to sign.

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