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How to Obtain a New Car Registration in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania car registration documentation is necessary in order to legally operate a car within the state. You must complete the vehicle registration process whether you purchase a new car or a used one. Auto registration documents help the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and local law enforcement identify each vehicle on the roadway. Therefore, it is imperative that motor vehicle registration be completed in the state before you begin using your vehicle on a regular basis. Learn more about obtaining a new car registration in Pennsylvania for new vehicles and used cars below.

The Pennsylvania DMV Car Registration Process for New Vehicles

To obtain your PA car registration for a new vehicle, you will need to provide documentation that proves you own the car, such as the certificate of title, to an authorized agent of PennDOT. Furthermore, before obtaining valid DMV vehicle registration paperwork, you must also certify that the car meets state standards for clean vehicles, as per the Pennsylvania Clean Vehicles Program. Getting car registration documents requires that you meet the criteria for this program. Additionally, when you register your vehicle, it must meet emission requirements and clean energy criteria if it was manufactured after 2008.

New car registration in Pennsylvania for brand new vehicles requires the dealer who sold your vehicle to send proof of purchase to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. When getting auto registration approval, you cannot send proof of purchase documents yourself. Additionally, you must provide proof of identity that matches the proof of purchase provided by your car dealership. If you purchase your car using a lending agent, in order to get vehicle registration credentials, you will need to work with this agency to obtain access to the title.

Before your car registration can be processed, you will also need to have car insurance. This is because another requirement for DMV auto registration issuance is proof of minimum vehicle insurance in Pennsylvania. To obtain a PA car registration card from a PennDOT agent, you must have up-to-date car insurance. If you go without car insurance for more than 30 days, you are at risk of falling outside of lawful vehicle operation. Registration of vehicle paperwork can be forfeited if you do not maintain valid insurance. To avoid losing your auto registration, you may be able to pay a penalty if you reinstate your insurance in a timely manner.

During your vehicle registration process, you may be able to apply for self-insurance. This process requires a separate application. To qualify for self-insurance, you must prove that you meet income requirements. Additionally, while completing DMV vehicle registration requirements for self-insurance, a one-time collateral must be paid to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Note: To get car registration documents for a new vehicle you are leasing, you will need to complete all steps above as well as the lease specific registration form.

The Pennsylvania Car Registration Process for Used Vehicles

If you are wondering, “How can I register my car if I purchased a used vehicle?” note that motor vehicle registration for used cars is possible with a certificate of title and a Vehicle Sales and Use Tax Return document. Similar to registering new vehicles, when getting auto registration for older vehicles, your car must also be inspected and meet state and national guidelines for safety, as per the Pennsylvania Clean Vehicles Program, before you submit your registration application to an authorized agent of PennDOT.

To register your vehicle, the title will need to feature the signature of the person or dealer who sold you the vehicle. If the vehicle was not bought and was given as a gift, you will need verification of this transfer of ownership to continue the DMV car registration process. An official document must be signed by you and the seller in order to register the car.

Car Registration for New Pennsylvania Residents

“How is the process of registering my car different as a new Pennsylvania resident?” is a common question asked by drivers who have moved to PA. Car registration in Pennsylvania for individuals new to the state requires proof of residency in the form of a state-issued driver’s license. To get car registration documents, you will also need to verify your address using a utilities bill or banking statement that shows a local address.

To complete the necessary car registration processes, you will also need to obtain insurance for your vehicle in Pennsylvania. You can only use approved documents such as an insurance policy identification card that is signed by your insurance agent to prove that you have coverage to an authorized PennDOT agent. Additionally, when you register your vehicle, you will need to verify the Vehicle Identification Number for your out-of-state car. The VIN and your title number must correspond exactly for you to be allowed to register your car.

Timeline for Obtaining a Car Registration in Pennsylvania

Once you understand how to get car registration documents, you must become familiar with the state’s established timeframes for obtaining credentials. You must register your vehicle within the first 20 days of residency in Pennsylvania to avoid penalties.Auto registration in PA also requires proof of insurance within 10 days of residency. Although you have 60 days to obtain a valid driver's license, you will need this document before gaining your registration. Therefore, when moving to Pennsylvania, gaining a license sooner than the 60-day deadline will assist you in avoiding any tag-related penalties.

Note: Vehicle registration documents in the form of an auto registration card must be available when asked for by law enforcement. Police officers also have the ability to utilize an electronic system to verify the validity of your vehicle registration.

Pennsylvania Car Registration Fees

There are multiple fees associated with car registration including registration fees, county fees, inspection fees and sales tax. In terms of maintaining your new auto registration, some fees must be paid each year, whereas others are a one-time payment when completing your initial registration.

If you move to Pennsylvania with a vehicle, you may be able to provide proof of paying the sales tax in your previous state. As a new resident completing new car registration, it is your responsibility to have proper documentation of your vehicle's purchase date to avoid paying sales tax in PA for your out-of-state vehicle.