How to Transfer the Title of a Car in Pennsylvania

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

To understand more about the certificate of title and why it matters so much, check out our complete car title guide. It covers every angle of this important topic.
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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
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 the VIN listed on the vehicle title. This is an important step that helps reduce the risk of fraud and lowers instances of user error.

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

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 get an insurance policy on the vehicle.

If you don’t have car insurance, get a quick quote here.

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 vehicle sales tax when he or she buys a used car in a private sale in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania car sales tax is 6% of the purchase price (or market value) of the vehicle. Some municipalities and counties add additional local sales tax onto the state's 6%. 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 plates.
4. Buyer insures vehicle and brings proof of insurance.
5. Buyer registers vehicle and pays taxes and registration fees.

Important Title Transfer Info

When dealing with Step 1, above (buyer and seller sign the title), keep the following in mind.

Only use black or blue ink. Any other color will void the title.
Do not erase anything or use white-out.
Write neatly.
Do not use nicknames.
Mistakes can void the document.

Front of the Title

The front of a Pennsylvania title has sections for lienholders and also a reserved section for the notary public.

1. If there is a lien on the title, the lienholder will need to release the lien in the first teal-colored section shown below.
2. If the buyer is getting financing, there will be a new lienholder, and the new lienholder will need to enter the required information into the second teal-colored section shown below.
3. The notary public will enter the required information and notarize the title in the section shown in red below.

Back of the Title

The back of the title has sections for the seller, the buyer, and the lienholder. Here is the process for filling out the back of a Pennsylvania title.

1. The seller enters the exact odometer reading into the rectangle shown in red, below.
2. Don’t include tenths of a mile; round up to the nearest full mile.
3. Don’t check boxes 1 or 2 unless the odometer is in excess of its mechanical limits or the mileage listed is not the actual mileage of the vehicle.
4. The buyer prints the following info into the box shown in teal below:
5. Name: last, first, and middle (if applicable).
6. Street address, city, and state.
7. The purchase price of the vehicle.
8. Signature (if there are multiple buyers, each will sign).
9. The seller prints and signs their name in the red rectangle marked “3” below.
10. If there is a new lienholder, they will enter required information into the section marked with navy, below.

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

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.

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.

For more on why we highly recommend a bill of sale, even when it's not required by state law, read our complete guide to the bill of sale for used car transactions.

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.

Different states have different rules for what to do with plates in a car sale. For more, see our complete guide to handling license plates.

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).


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)


$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?

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

How do I complete Form MV1?

Is selling a car privately for cash a good idea?

How to protect yourself when selling a car privately?

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