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Pennsylvania Selling a Vehicle

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What Are The Basics?

When you sell a car in Pennsylvania, you must comply with legal requirements to ensure the sale is properly documented and to avoid penalties. You must remove the license plates, indicate the mileage, and sign the title. The buyer and seller should meet at the Motor Vehicle office to show proper identification and ensure the title forms are correctly filled out. A Bill of Sale is recommended but not required.

How Do I Sign the Title?

You must sign and handprint your name in the spaces provided in Section A of the title.

What if I’ve Lost the Title?

You cannot sell a vehicle without providing proof of ownership — either a Pennsylvania or out-of-state certificate of title, certificate of salvage, or court order. If you’ve lost the title, you can request a duplicate from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Driver and Vehicle Services. To do this, you fill out a request form and pay a $55 fee. This can be done in person or by mail.

What Information is Included in the Bill of Sale?

  • Name and address of the seller.
  • Name and address of the buyer.
  • Vehicle description, including Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), make, model, year.
  • Vehicle odometer reading at the time of sale.
  • The sale price and date of sale.
  • Signature of the seller.

Why do I need to Record the Odometer Reading?

Pennsylvania’s laws require you to provide an accurate odometer reading at the time of sale. Odometer fraud and tampering are crimes in Pennsylvania.

Why do I Need a Bill of Sale?

A bill of sale, while not required, is recommended. It serves as a receipt between the buyer and seller and can help settle any legal disputes that may arise later.

May I Transfer Plates?

License plates cannot be transferred to a new owner. However, you may transfer them to another vehicle that you, your spouse, or your children own. If you transfer plates to the same vehicle type, you may keep the same registration. If you transfer to a different vehicle type, you must obtain a new registration.

What if I Don’t Transfer Plates to a New Vehicle?

You return the plates to:

PennDOT at Bureau of Motor Vehicles
Return Tag Unit
P.O. Box 68597
Harrisburg, PA 17106-8597

What if I Am Giving the Car to Someone Rather than Selling It?

If you are giving the car to someone, such as a relative, you still sign the title and remove the license plates. You note, however, by sales price that the item is to be a gift. You also fill out a form MV-13ST which exempts the transaction from sales tax. To be exempt, the transfer must be strictly a gift and not a barter or have any strings attached to it.

How Do I, As Executor, Transfer a Car to An Heir?

Unless the vehicle is titled in the estate’s name, you attach the Short Form issued by the Register of Wills to the title when you sign it. If the vehicle is titled in the name of the estate, you fill out form MV-39. 

Sources:
AAA: Digest of Motor Vehicle Laws
PennDOT: Selling A Vehicle

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Last Verified:
Sep 7, 2022