How to Transfer a Car Title in Pennsylvania

A car title transfer is required in Pennsylvania whenever you purchase a car in the state, whether the vehicle in question is new or used. Cars coming into Pennsylvania from other states are also required to be titled in Pennsylvania. However, these transferring car title procedures are different from those of cars that are changing hands within the state. Transferring titles in Pennsylvania goes through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). Depending upon the circumstances of your need for a transfer of title, you may or may not need to visit a DOT office in person. Below, you will learn how to transfer car title documents in Pennsylvania, and where to go about doing it.

How do I transfer car title documents in Pennsylvania?

Transferring a car title within the state of Pennsylvania is necessary, whether you purchase the car from a licensed auto dealer or as the result of a private sale. If you purchase your car from a Pennsylvania auto dealer, there is an in-house team that typically handles all the work associated with getting your new or used vehicle title transferred into your name, and then submits all the paperwork necessary to the Pennsylvania DOT. Dealers are often authorized Pennsylvania DOT agents, and are therefore equipped to handle the necessary documents. The transfer title process is more work for the buyer when the vehicle is acquired through a private sale. When purchasing a vehicle within the state of Pennsylvania via private sale, an agent authorized by the Pennsylvania DOT must transfer car title documents and complete the process. To transfer title in a private sale, the seller must list the name of the person buying the vehicle, as well as his or her address, and sign the documents, along with disclosing the odometer reading in the presence of an authorized PA DOT agent. To complete the transfer of title, the purchaser must then print and sign the paperwork. Learn more about car title transferring in our free, downloadable guide.

Out-of-State Car Title Transfers to Pennsylvania

For a transfer of title involving vehicles that were purchased outside of Pennsylvania, you will need to go to a PA DOT office location in person in order to complete the necessary paperwork to finish the title transfer. In order to transfer the car ownership from an out-of-state car title, several documents are necessary. You must have the out-of-state vehicle title signed over by the previous owner. You will also need an Application for Certificate of Title. The Vehicle Identification Number must have its history attached to the application. Of course, your valid drivers license is also required. Transferring car title documents also asks for proof of auto insurance. This can be your valid insurance card, the declaration page or a copy of a valid insurance binder from your insurance carrier. Payment for the transfer of title and the taxes on your car is the last item you will need to complete the transaction. If the vehicle has a lien with an out-of-state lienholder, you must contact the lienholder to receive clearance for the car title transfer to Pennsylvania. Learn more about out-of-state car title transfers by downloading our comprehensive guide.

New Pennsylvania Resident Car Title Transfer

A car title transfer for those who are new residents of Pennsylvania must be applied for within 20 days of taking up residence. It is important to note that you must first have your PA driver's license before you apply to transfer title papers. The exception to this rule is if you have a valid U.S. Armed Forces Common Access Card. You typically follow the steps to apply for your title and registration at the same time.

Visit your local PA DOT office to initiate the process. Transferring a car title will require your current vehicle title, along with an Application for Certificate of Title, which you can obtain at the DOT office. You will need your drivers license or U.S. Armed Forces Common Access Card, as well as proof of insurance. Transferring a car title will require a trace of the VIN or a VIN verification obtainable from the dealer or PA DOT agent.

Gifted, Donated and Inherited Vehicles in Pennsylvania

Where to transfer car title documents for those who received their vehicles as gifts in Pennsylvania is also important information to know. For vehicles received as gifts, both the giver and receiver must take care of the car title transfer documents at a PA DOT office. To transfer title papers, you will need an Affidavit of Gift and the documentation required for a private sale and auto transfer for either an in-state or out-of-state title transfer. Many organizations, such as nonprofits, accept vehicles as donations. If you decide to donate a car or another vehicle to a charity in Pennsylvania, you must complete the car title transfer paperwork for that charity.

Inherited vehicles have two possible routes for a car title transfer. If you are a co-owner, as in the case of your spouse passing away, you will need several items to complete the process, including the following:

  • A vehicle title without any writing on it
  • The original death certificate of the other car owner
  • A Notification of Assignment/Correction of Vehicle Title Upon Death of Owner
  • The title transfer fee

If you inherit the vehicle through a will, the executor of the will can transfer title documents in PA to you. You must submit the new title, along with a Short Form Certificate from the Register of Wills and the appropriate forms for taxes, the fees for the transfer of title and the taxes. There is also a fee to transfer license plates. Download our free and informative guide to read more about car titling and registration in PA.