What You Need for Pennsylvania Car Registration

Are you new to the state of Pennsylvania or have you recently purchased a car in the state? If so, you need to update your records and get Pennsylvania car registration. Having your car registration up-to-date can help you stay in good standing while on the road, so you can avoid any issues if you get pulled over. To help make the process easier, we’ve broken down how to register a car in Pennsylvania and what you should know.


Why is Pennsylvania car registration required?

When you get pulled over for whatever reason, you typically get asked for your license, registration, and insurance. These documents prove that you can legally drive, that you’re the lawful owner of the vehicle, and that you’re insured if anything should happen. 

Registering a car helps create a link between you as the driver and your vehicle with the state you live in. It’s also a way for states to collect taxes and fees from drivers.

Who needs to register a car in Pennsylvania?

If you purchased a vehicle in Pennsylvania, you need to make sure registration is taken care of. If you bought a new car from a dealer, typically this is taken care of for you. But if not or if you bought a used vehicle from a private party, you may need to handle Pennsylvania car registration yourself. 

Additionally, if you recently moved to Pennsylvania you’ll need to update your car registration. Lastly, if you’re already a resident of Pennsylvania and you’ve let your car registration lapse, you want to renew it so that you can avoid any trouble on the road.

How to register a car in Pennsylvania?

If you’re wondering what do I need to register my car in Pennsylvania, it can depend on if you’re registering a new car/used car or if you moved from out-of-state. 

If you’re registering a car you bought, you’ll need:

  • Proof of ownership in the form of Manufacturer Certificate of Origin (MCO) or Manufacture Statement of Origin (MSO) or Pennsylvania Certificate of Title 
  • Application for Certificate of Title (Form MV-1 — not available online)
  • Driver’s license
  • Proof of insurance
  • New cars may need to be certified by the California Air Resources Board (CARB)

If you’re buying a used car, you’ll need:

  • Pennsylvania Certificate of Titles
  • Vehicle Sales and Use Tax Return/Application for Registration (Form MV-4ST — not available online)
  • Driver’s license
  • Proof of insurance 

If you moved to Pennsylvania from out-of-state, you need the following:

  • Application for Certificate of Title for a Pennsylvania title and surrender your out-of-state title
  • Proof of Pennsylvania auto insurance
  • Tracing or verification of the VIN
  • Applicable fees and taxes
  • Power of Attorney, if leasing a vehicle 

You must obtain a Pennsylvania driver’s license within 60 days of residency and must complete title and registration within 20 days of establishing residency. You must also complete a safety inspection within 10 days of your registration date and may need an emissions inspection as well.

How much does it cost to register a car in Pennsylvania?

The state of Pennsylvania charges $39 per year in registration fees for passenger vehicles. You may be able to renew your Pennsylvania car registration for one or two years using ​​Form MV-70S.

Is proof of insurance required to register a car in Pennsylvania?

If you need to get started with registration you probably are curious and want to know “What do I need to register my car in Pennsylvania?” One thing you definitely need to register your car in Pennsylvania is proof of insurance. 

The state of Pennsylvania requires all drivers to have minimum liability coverage on their registered vehicle. You must have a minimum of: 

  • $15,000 to cover injury or death for a single person
  • $30,000 to cover injury or death for more than one person 
  • $5,000 to cover property damage on someone else’s property

If you need to get car insurance, consider pay-per-mile car insurance — especially if you don’t drive that much. Pay-per-mile insurance is usage-based and only makes you pay for the miles you drive plus a monthly base rate. 

At Metromile, you can get affordable coverage with a low base rate and pay a few cents for every mile. Customers have saved an average of $741* per year by switching over from traditional car insurance. Using the app and the Ride Along™ feature, you can get started and see how much you could save. 

The bottom line

If you bought a new set of wheels in the state of PA or recently decided to call the state home, it’s time to make sure you’re up-to-date on your Pennsylvania car registration. If your car registration is going to expire soon, make sure to get it taken care of sooner rather than later. Learning how to register a car in Pennsylvania just got easier with the steps above. 

On top of registering your car, you can look into affordable car insurance options such as pay-per-mile coverage which can save you money.

 Get a free quote with Metromile to see your prospective rates. 

Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.

*Average annual car insurance savings by new customers surveyed who saved with Metromile in 2018.