When selling your vehicle in Pennsylvania, signing over the car title will transfer ownership from seller to buyer. Pennsylvania title transfer rules are somewhat different from some other states, so you’ll need to know the specifics. Read on.

PA Title Transfer Jumplinks

Private vehicle sales need a safe, legal title transfer process. This Pennsylvania title transfer guide gives you everything you need to know to sign over a car title in PA.

Transferring a Pennsylvania Car Title

To transfer a vehicle title in Pennsylvania, the two most important components are a buyer and seller. Once these two parties negotiate a purchase price and make a deal, then it’s time to legally transfer a title.

You’ll also need specific documentation.
Pennsylvania documentation requirements are similar to most other states, but each state can have slightly different requirements. Pennsylvania is no exception. You may be familiar with much of the process if you’ve sold or purchased a vehicle in another state, but it’s important to review these Pennsylvania-specific requirements.

What Documents Are Needed to Transfer a Car Title in PA?

Here’s what’s needed to transfer a car title in Pennsylvania:

  1. Proper identification documents for both buyer and seller—PrivateAuto verifies the identities of buyer and seller with our app.
  2. Vehicle ownership documents proving that the seller is the owner of the car.
  3. Certificate of title (also doubles as proof of ownership, covering #2 above)
  4. Proof of insurance (insurance card)

Identity Verification

A valid PA driver’s license or another acceptable Pennsylvania photo ID should be all you need for personal identification. A current US passport is also adequate. And, if you buy or sell a used car through PrivateAuto, your identity will already be verified in the process of setting up your PrivateAuto account.

Proof of Vehicle Ownership (Seller)

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has several acceptable proof of ownership documents the vehicle owner can use to prove ownership:

  • Pennsylvania certificate of title
  • Out-of-state certificate of title
  • Manufacturer certificate
  • Statement of origin
  • Certificate of salvage title, when applicable
  • Court order, in specific situations

Title With Notarized Signatures

The vehicle owner (seller) needs to bring a certificate of title. This can be a duplicate title, or the original. The original needs to be signed before you can receive a new title. The signing process has to be done before a notary public in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, so don’t sign it until you and the other person are at an office of a notary public before signing the back of the title.

It’s a good idea to check the vehicle identification number and compare it with that listed on the vehicle title. This is an important step that helps reduce the risk of fraud.

If you buy or sell through the PrivateAuto platform, the title will already be verified for added peace of mind.

Woman at table signing document.

Proof of Insurance

The Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV, requires proof of insurance for license plate or temporary license plate transfer. The vehicle buyer needs to provide one of these proofs before legally registering the vehicle and completing the transaction:

  • Insurance policy declaration page
  • Insurance card
  • Copy of insurance application to the Pennsylvania Assigned Risk Plan
  • Insurance policy number and other required information

Buyers won’t be able to legally register their vehicle without proof of insurance. Be sure you schedule signing over the title to be sure the buyer understands this requirement and has time to receive an insurance policy on the vehicle.

Person holding silver pen and signing document.

Can You Transfer a Car Title Online in PA?

While you can perform some aspects of a Pennsylvania car title transfer online, PA still requires a title to be signed by buyer and seller in the presence of a notary.

This means you’ll need to meet in-person to sign the title and have it notarized.

Who Pays the Sales Tax on a Used Car Transaction in PA?

The buyer pays the sales tax when he or she buys a used car in a private sale in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania sales taxes are 6% of the purchase price (or market value) of the vehicle. If you live in Allegheny County, you’ll pay 7%; Philly residents pay 8%.

In addition to paying the sales tax, the title transfer fee and other expenses are typically paid by the buyer, but be sure to make this clear during the negotiation process. Fees vary, so check the current rates as you prepare to purchase a privately owned vehicle in Pennsylvania.

Do Both Parties Need to Be Present to Transfer a Car Title in PA?

Yes, both parties need to be present to sign the title and have it notarized by a licensed Pennsylvania notary public.

Conceivably, the signing and notarization could be done separately, with buyer and seller consecutively appearing before the notary with the title. It’s more efficient, however, to appear together and get the transaction done.

Note that if two parties are listed as owners on the title, Pennsylvania requires both owners of the vehicle to sign the title.

How to Transfer a Title in PA

Now that you’ve reviewed all the documents necessary, it’s time to follow the steps to transfer a title in PA. Whether you’re selling or buying a car in Pennsylvania, here are step-by-step instructions for legally transferring vehicle ownership:

  1. Buyer and seller sign the title before a Pennsylvania notary public, who notarizes the title. Make sure the sale price is listed.
  2. Seller reports odometer reading on PA title.
  3. Seller removes vehicle registration plate.
  4. Buyer insures vehicle and brings proof of insurance.
  5. Buyer registers vehicle and pays taxes and registration fees.

Out-of-State Title Transfer

The steps to transfer an out-of-state title in Pennsylvania are generally the same. The taxes and fees can vary, but the following items are still required by the DMV:

  • Completed out-of-state title transfer application
  • Valid out-of-state title
  • Proof of identification
  • Vehicle insurance
  • Pay sales tax and fees

How Much Does it Cost to Transfer a Car Title in PA?

According to the PennDOT website, the fee for a title transfer is $58.00. For a title with a lien, the fee is $86.00.

It is customary for the buyer to pay the fee.

Pennsylvania Clean Vehicle Program

Buying or selling a vehicle manufactured in 2008 or later falls under the Pennsylvania Clean Vehicle Program. With this program, qualifying vehicles need to be “certified by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) or be certified for sale in all 50 states.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation or PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection work together to ensure vehicles in the state maintain emissions requirements for all 50 states.

There are many exceptions to this program, but you’re required to ensure the vehicle passes if it isn’t excluded from the program. Here are some vehicle types that don’t need to pass emissions tests as part of the Clean Vehicle Program in PA:

  • Vehicles with over 7,500 miles
  • Vehicles used exclusively for off-highway driving
  • Emergency vehicles
  • National security exemption vehicles
  • Vehicles transferred by court decree or inheritance
Desk with calculator, documents, toy car, pen, and coins.

Buy and Sell Cars in Pennsylvania With PrivateAuto

Complete the sales process easily and legally with the help of PrivateAuto. This technology-driven platform helps you find verified buyers and sellers, sign documents online and receive state-specific steps to complete the sale. See how it works today to buy and sell vehicles privately in Pennsylvania.

Steps for Selling Your Vehicle through PrivateAuto

PrivateAuto makes selling your used car hassle-free. The sales process consists of a few simple steps:

One: gather necessary documentation

You’ll need your vehicle title and other documentation discussed above. Have it handy, so you’re not scrambling to find it at the moment of completing a sale.

Two: register on PrivateAuto and get verified

To make PrivateAuto a safe place for everyone, we require email, phone, and driver’s license verification, including facial recognition. Get started here.

Three: list your car

Easily create your PrivateAuto listing with our step-by-step guide. Bonus: we include a window brochure with a QR code scannable to your listing.

Four: set your terms

It’s your car, so you drive the deal! You can control where, when, and who you meet. Decide whether to accept only ID-verified buyers, or buyers with verified funds. Don’t waste your time with buyers who aren’t verified to your preference.

Five: vet incoming offers

Manage offers in one place with the ability to accept, reject, or counter offers within the app. Listing on multiple sites? Filter all communications through PrivateAuto by sharing your listing link on all platforms. Your personal info is protected: no more giving out your phone number or email address. All communication happens in our app.

Six: choose a buyer

When you find an offer you like, accept it and proceed to the next step with that buyer.

Seven: schedule a test drive

The buyer will want to test drive your car. No more back and forth texts. You never have to give out your phone number. Rather, use our handy scheduling feature to coordinate a time and place for a test drive. (Oh, and you’ll be able to finalize the transaction instantly at the test drive location, FYI.)

Eight: e-sign documents

After the buyer is satisfied with your car and the two of you have agreed on a purchase price, you can easily e-sign the Bill of Sale within our app, from your phone. With our shared documents feature, you can easily locate the paperwork needed after the sale.

Nine: get paid, instantly

Before PrivateAuto, receiving funds was the most stressful part of the entire selling process, especially for any used car sale over $5,000. There just aren’t a lot of good ways to move large amounts of money quickly and conveniently. Those days are over! Verify and receive funds instantaneously with PrivateAuto Pay, our innovative banking integration. Guaranteed funds for transactions large and small.

Ten: transfer title

When you sell your vehicle, fill out the necessary information on the back of the title transfer document.

Eleven: remove license plates

In Pennsylvania, the seller removes the license plates from the car in a private sale.

Twelve: cancel car insurance

You don’t want to pay for insurance on a car you no longer own, so be sure to remove the sold vehicle from your insurance plan.

How to register a car in PA?

To register your recently-bought car in Pennsylvania, go to your nearest DMV office with all required documentation and payment (check or money order).

Documentation:

  • Pennsylvania driver’s license or ID card
  • Vehicle Sales and Use Tax Return/Application for Registration (Form MV-4ST) (not available online)
  • Proof of Pennsylvania vehicle insurance
  • Proof of vehicle ownership
  • Proof of safety inspection
  • Proof of emissions inspection (if applicable)
  • Odometer disclosure statement
  • Vehicle Identification Number verification
  • Lienholder information (if applicable)

Payment:

  • $37 registration fee
  • $58 title fee ($78 with a lien recorded)
  • 6% sales tax (7% in Allegheny County; 8% in Philadelphia)
  • DMV transaction fee (if required)

Interested in Buying a Used Car in Pennsylvania?

If you’re looking to buy a used car, browse our used cars for sale in Pennsylvania. Whether you’re looking for a Subaru Outback, a Jeep Wrangler, or a Tesla Model S, you’re sure to find a great deal on the ride of your dreams.

PA Title Transfer FAQ

How do I get a title replacement in PA?

To replace a lost or damaged Pennsylvania title for your vehicle, complete the “Application for Duplicate Certificate of Title By Owner” and mail it to the following address with $58 for title fees enclosed (check or money order).  

PA Department of Transportation

Bureau of Motor Vehicles

P.O. Box 68593

Harrisburg, PA 17106-8593

After mailing in the application for certificate form, PennDOT will issue a title replacement.

Should I remove my license plates when I sell a used car in PA?

Yes, the seller removes the car’s license plates. You can either use them on another vehicle you own, or turn them in to PennDOT.

What is the safest method of payment when selling PA vehicle?

Typically, the safest way to receive payment when selling a car is cash. With PrivateAuto Pay, you can avoid the risks and hassle of dealing with large sums of cash and get paid instantaneously through our app with our integrated banking partner.

By receiving your money through our integrated banking system, both buyers and sellers can stay safe while exchanging large sums of money, as they don’t have to share their contact or banking information during the car buying process.

How do I complete Form MV1?

Form MV-1 is Pennsylvania’s “Application for Certificate of Title” must be completed by an authorized PennDOT agent. This PennDOT PDF explains all about Form MV-1.

Is selling a car privately for cash a good idea?

Selling your Pennsylvania vehicle privately for cash can be a good idea, but only if you’re selling to a verified buyer. Though the chances of cash being counterfeit are low, it can still happen, and you won’t know that it did until it’s too late to do anything about it.

PrivateAuto offers the immediacy of a cash payment without the risk. Our PrivateAuto Pay feature is a full banking integration; when the buyer authorizes the funds transfer through our app, money instantly moves from their PrivateAuto account into yours—24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

How to protect yourself when selling a car privately?

To protect yourself when selling a car privately, we recommend the following practices:

  1. Don’t give out your contact information
  2. Verify that the buyer has the funds to purchase the vehicle
  3. Deal with verified buyers only
  4. Receive the payment through PrivateAuto Pay

The best way to protect yourself when selling a car privately is by selling on a secure platform that offers these features (such as PrivateAuto).

How do I handle a name change on my PA title?

If your name has changed, complete Form MV-41 and return to PennDOT.