Pennsylvania

Driver and Vehicle Services
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
1101 South Front Street
Harrisburg, PA 17104
(800) 932-4600 | www.dmv.pa.us

Pennsylvania State Police
Headquarters
1800 Elmerton Avenue
Harrisburg, PA 17110
(717) 783-5599 | www.psp.pa.us

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT)
Keystone Building 400 North Street
Harrisburg, PA 17120
(717) 787-2838 | www.dot.pa.us

Title Application

Application for certificate of title must be made on a form provided by PennDOT.

Application must contain a full description of the vehicle, the vehicle identification number, odometer reading, date of purchase, the actual or bona fide name and address of the owner, a statement of title of the applicant, and any other documents that PennDOT may require.

Application for a certificate of title must be made within 20 days of the sale or transfer of a vehicle or its entry into Pennsylvania, whichever is later.

Any necessary fees and/or taxes must accompany the executed application.


Title Transfer of Ownership

The transferee must within 10 days of the assignment or reassignment of the certificate of title, apply for a new title.

Along with the application, the owner must execute a notarized assignment and warranty of title to the transferee in the space provided on the certificate of title.

The application must be accompanied by the certificate of title and all appropriate fees and any taxes required by PennDOT.

If the vehicle was previously titled or registered in another state, the following information must be included with the application: (1) the certificate of title issued by the state or county; (2) a tracing of the vehicle identification number; and (3) any other information or documentation PennDOT might request.

If PennDOT is not satisfied about the ownership of a vehicle PennDOT may register the vehicle but shall withhold issuance of a certificate of title until the applicant submits the documents which PennDOT deems necessary to issue the title.


Titles for Mobile Homes

Mobile homes must be titled. There is a $50.00 fee.

If a mobile home or manufactured home that has been anchored to the ground to facilitate connection with electricity, water and sewerage and that has been previously titled and used as a residence is offered for sale or transfer, the transferor shall obtain a tax status certification from the Tax Claim Bureau of the county in which the home is situated, showing the real estate taxes due on the home as shown by the Tax Bureau records as of the date of the certification. This tax certification shall be provided to the transferee and PennDOT in conjunction with the transfer of ownership.

If a new mobile home or manufactured home is being titled using the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO) as the proof of ownership, neither the tax status certification nor Form MV-16T is required.

Should taxes be due from the home, the transferor shall pay the delinquent real estate taxes in full or cause the taxes to be paid in full and an updated tax status certification must be obtained and provided to the transferee and PennDOT before the transfer is completed.

If the mobile home or manufactured home is not anchored to the ground to facilitate connections with electricity, water and sewerage or was not used as a residence, Form MV-16T, “Self-Certification of Exemption from Tax Status Certificate When Transferring Ownership of a Mobile Home or Manufactured Home,” must be provided in lieu of the tax status certification. Form MV-16T is to be completed by the transferors of the mobile home or manufactured home and provided to the transferee to be submitted with the completed application for a Pennsylvania Certificate of Title.

Registration Application

Application for original or renewal vehicle registration must be made on a form provided by PennDOT.

The application must contain the full name and address of the owner or owners, the make, model, year and vehicle identification number of the vehicle, and any other documents that PennDOT may require.

The vehicle title and a self-certification of financial responsibility must also accompany the application.

The self-certification form of financial responsibility requires: (1) the complete name, address, and telephone number of the applicant; (2) the name of the insurance company which is insuring the vehicle; and (3) the policy number, effective date, and expiration date of the policy of insurance insuring the vehicle.

There is no period of grace for late registration.


Registration for Non-Residents

A non-resident owner of an out-of-state vehicle can operate a vehicle in Pennsylvania without registering the vehicle in Pennsylvania provided that the vehicle is registered in another state. This out-of-state vehicle cannot be used for transportation services of persons of hire, or regularly operated in carrying on any business in Pennsylvania.

A person given a citation for not registering his or her vehicle in Pennsylvania must prove that he or she is not a Pennsylvania resident. If he or she can prove that he or she is a non-resident within 5 days of being given the citation, the citation will be dismissed.

Military personnel on active duty in Pennsylvania may maintain out-of-state vehicle registration.


Registration Type

Vehicle registration expires on the last day of the month as designated on the registration card.

Application for renewal of registration will be mailed to registrant at least 60 days before the expiration.

The returned application must be accompanied by a self-certification of financial responsibility and the applicable fees.

After PennDOT receives the completed application and appropriate fees, PennDOT will issue a renewed registration card.

Upon receiving the registration card, the registrant must sign his or her name to the card.

The registration card must be kept with the vehicle at all times.

Seasonal Registration offers flexibility to vehicle owners by providing for seasonal operation of a motor vehicle in Pennsylvania.  Vehicle owners or a lessee of a passenger vehicle, motorcycle, motor home, truck or farm vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of not more than 14,000 pounds may register for less than a full year and temporarily discontinue vehicle insurance without having to return the registration plate to PennDOT.


Emissions Inspection

PennDOT requires periodic emissions inspections for all motor vehicles except for the following:

  • A vehicle that was never permanently registered in any jurisdiction that has less than 5,000 miles on it for which an annual or temporary registration plate was originally issued within the past 12 months; this vehicle will be exempt from an emissions inspection for 1 year from the date of registration.
  • A vehicle never registered in any jurisdiction having less than 5,000 miles on it and having a registration plate transferred from another vehicle must pass an emissions inspection before the next registration but not within 9 months of the date of the purchase of the vehicle.

South Central: requires 1996 and newer models to have On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) and gas cap inspections and requires 1975-1995 models to have gas cap and visual inspections. Northern Region: requires 1975 and newer models to have gas cap and visual inspections. Pittsburgh Region: requires 1996 and newer models to have OBD and gas cap, and requires 1975-1995 models to have gas cap, tailpipe, and visual inspections. Philadelphia Region: requires 1996 and newer models to have OBD and gas cap inspections; and requires 1975-1995 models to have gas cap, tailpipe, and visual inspections. 42 County Non-I/M Region: requires all cars to have a visual inspection as part of the annual safety inspection.

Visit Drive Clean PA for more information on the state’s emissions inspection requirements.

OBD is utilized as part of the emissions inspection process.


Safety Inspection

Annual safety inspections are required for all passenger vehicles and light trucks, and upon registration from out-of-state.

Semiannual inspections are required for school buses, vehicles owned by or under contract to a school and used to transport students to and from school, vans transporting persons for hire or owned by a commercial enterprise for transporting employees, mass transit vehicles, and motor carrier vehicles; there is no set fee. All other vehicles, including passenger cars, light trucks, motorcycles, trailers over 3,000 lbs., emergency vehicles, and private non-commercial vehicles transporting students are inspected annually; there is no set fee. Proof of financial responsibility is required at the time of inspection.


Title and Registration Fees

AUTOMOBILE

Title Fee: $51.00

Registration Fee: $36.00

MOTORCYCLE

Title Fee: $51.00

Registration Fee: $18.00

DUPLICATES

Plate Fee: $11.00

Registration Fee: $2.00 at original registration, transfer, or renewal; $6.00 at any other time

Driver’s License Fee: $27.50 ($32.50 for Class M license)

Title Fee: $51.00

Special Plates: $25.00-$154.00

Plate Disbursement

PennDOT will issue 1 registration plate when a car is registered in Pennsylvania.

Registration plates and motorcycle decals are available to persons with disabilities and severely disabled veterans by application to the Bureau by completing Form MV145 or Form MV145V for veterans with a reduced fee of $11.00. Notarization is required.

No fee required for severely disabled veterans motorcycle decal.

Disabled parking placards are available by application to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. No fee is required. Notarization and Form MV145A.

The color scheme for registration plates is blue, white, and yellow, with blue letters and numbers.

It is unlawful to display on any vehicle a registration plate which is otherwise illegible at a reasonable distance or is obscured in any manner.

Transfer of Plates

Registration and registration plates can be transferred to another vehicle owned or leased by the registrant, or to a vehicle owned or leased by the spouse, parent, or child of the registrant.

If the transfer is within the same vehicle type, the transferee can keep the previously issued registration and registration plate, unless lost, stolen, or destroyed.

If the transfer is not within the same vehicle type, the transferee must return the registration  plate to PennDOT.

In order to transfer the registration plate, the transferee must apply for a temporary vehicle registration card and a transfer of registration.

Driver's License Examination

Every applicant for a driver’s license must be examined for the type or class of vehicle that the applicant desires to operate. The examination includes a physical examination, a screening test of the applicant’s eyesight (20/40 visual acuity required), and a knowledge test of the applicant’s ability to read and understand official traffic-control devices and signs, knowledge of safe driving practices, and knowledge of Pennsylvania’s rules of the road.

In addition to the knowledge test the applicant will be required to take a driving skills test that requires knowledge of controls, ability to parallel park, and an on road driving course where the driver’s compliance with driving rules of the road are examined.

Applicants for a commercial driver’s license are required to successfully pass required knowledge tests and a driving skills test that involve a pre-trip inspection, basic maneuver skills test, and an on road driving skills test.

If PennDOT finds it necessary to further determine an applicant’s fitness to operate a motor vehicle safely upon the highways the Department may require 1 or more of the following types of examinations: (1) a vision examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist; (2) a physical examination; or (3) a knowledge examination.


Graduated Driver’s Licensing

Pennsylvania has a system of graduated licensing for novice drivers.

At age 16, individuals are eligible for a learner’s permit.

  • A learner’s permit holder can operate the class of vehicle the permit allows him or her to operate under the direct supervision of a person who meets the following conditions: (1) is at least 21 years of age or, if a spouse of the permit holder, is at least 18 years of age; (2) is licensed in Pennsylvania to drive a vehicle of the class being driven by the holder of the learner’s permit; and (3) is seated beside the holder of the learner’s permit unless the vehicle is a motorcycle.
  • A learner’s permit holder must obtain certification, signed by the parent, guardian, or spouse of the minor, stating that the minor has completed 65 hours of practice driving, including 10 hours at night and 5 hours of bad weather.

Drivers under age 18 must hold a learner’s permit for that class of vehicle for at least 6 months before becoming eligible for an intermediate or junior driver’s license.

  • Junior driver’s license holders may not drive unsupervised between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • During the first 6 months of holding a junior driver’s license, individuals may not drive with more than 1 unrelated passenger under age 18, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. After the first 6 months, if crash and conviction free, individuals may drive with no more than 3 unrelated passengers under 18, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

At or after age 17 and 6 months, a driver is eligible for an unrestricted license if: (1) he/she completed an approved driver education course; and (2) for a period of 12 months after receiving a junior driver’s license was not the cause of a reportable accident, and has not been convicted of any driving violations.  Without completing driver education, drivers must wait until age 18 to be eligible for an unrestricted license.



Driver's License Renewal

U.S. citizens’ and permanent residents’ driver’s license expire on the day after the licensee’s birthday at intervals of 4 years or less, as determined by the Department. Driver’s 65 and older may choose a 2-year or 4-year renewal cycle.  Other non-U.S. citizens’ license expire on the same day as their immigration documents expire.

Licenses of active duty military personnel, their spouses, and children outside of the state are valid for the length of their active duty, 45 days after returning to the state, or 45 days after separation from the Armed Services. Service assignments must be carried with expired licenses.


Types of Driver’s Licenses

A Class A license allows a license holder to operate any combination of vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or more, provided the GVWR of the vehicle or vehicles being towed has a GVWR in excess of 10,000 lbs. The holder of a Class A license can also drive Class B and Class C vehicles.

A Class B license allows a license holder to operate any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or more or any such vehicle towing a vehicle having a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or less. The holder of a Class B license can also drive Class C vehicles.

A Class C license allows a license holder to operate any vehicle, or combination of vehicles 26,000 lbs. or less, or any combinations of vehicles, except combinations of vehicles involving motorcycles that does not meet the definition of either Class A or Class B.

A Class M license allows a license holder to operate a motorcycle.

Distracted Driving

Texting while driving is banned for all drivers and all local distracted driving laws are preempted by state law.


Emergency Radio/Cellular

Citizen band radio channel 9 is monitored for emergency calls by state police patrolling the turnpike system. Emergency phone number is *911.


Headsets

Wearing or using 1 or more headphones or earphones is not permitted while driving. Exempts the use of hearing aids, and the use of a headset in conjunction with a cellular telephone that only provides sound through one ear and allows surrounding sounds to be heard with the other ear.


Impaired Driving

All 50 states and the District of Columbia prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating beverages, with the illegal per se limit set at 0.08 percent blood alcohol content (.08 BAC). All 50 states and the District of Columbia set the legal drinking age at 21.

Every state’s chemical test law has ‘‘an implied consent’’ provision providing that any person operating a motor vehicle on a public highway, who is suspected of driving while intoxicated, consents to a chemical test to determine if he or she is inebriated. Failure to submit or pass such a test may cause the driver’s license to be suspended or revoked regardless of any court action finding the person innocent of the charge.

The most comprehensive resource on U.S. impaired driving laws is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Digest of Impaired Driving and Selected Beverage Control Laws.  NHTSA’s Digest is updated annually.

Pennsylvania requires the use of ignition interlocks for repeat or high-BAC impaired driving offenders only.


Move Over Law

State law requires drivers approaching an emergency response area, including areas in which a tow truck is offering assistance, to pass in a non-adjacent lane if safe and possible to do so, or slow to a safe speed. Also included in the law are utility vehicles within the first 72 hours after a declared emergency or until the expiration of a declared emergency, whichever is later.


Seat Belts

Seat belts are required for the driver and all front seat passengers age 18 and older.

Violation of the seat belt law is a standard offense.

Riding in the cargo area of a pickup truck is not permitted for persons under 18 or if the vehicle is traveling more than 35 mph; some other exceptions apply.


Child Passenger Safety

Children ages 8 until 18 must be restrained in all seating positions in a properly adjusted and fastened safety seat belt system.

Children ages 4 until 8 must be securely fastened in a booster seat.

Children under age 4 must be securely fastened in a child passenger restraint system.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


Railroad Crossing

The driver of a vehicle approaching a railroad crossing must stop within 50 feet but no less than 15 feet under the following circumstances: (1) a clearly visible electric or mechanical signal device gives warning of the immediate approach of a railroad train; (2) a crossing gate is lowered or a flagman gives or continues to give a signal of the approach of a railroad train; (3) a railroad train approaching within approximately 1,500 feet of the highway crossing emits a signal audible from that distance; and (4) the railroad train, by reason of its speed or nearness to the crossing, is a hazard.


School Buses

Color, yellow.

All vehicles must stop at least 10 feet upon meeting, from either direction, a school bus that is stopped for loading or unloading children and displays flashing lights and the stop signal arm. This rule does not apply if the bus is on the opposite roadway of a divided highway.

If convicted of violating Pennsylvania’s school bus stopping law, drivers will receive a 60-day driver’s license suspension, 5 points on their driving record and a $250 fine.

Bumper Height

Modification of original vehicle bumper is legal with parameters set by state.  Some part of the bumper must fall between 16 and 20 inches about the ground on passenger vehicles, and between 16 and 30 inches on multipurpose passenger vehicles and light trucks.


Headlight Use

Headlights must be used from sunset to sunrise, when wipers are in use, when visibility is less than 1000 feet, and in conditions of insufficient light/adverse weather. Headlights must be turned on in construction zones. Snow and ice must be removed from a vehicle prior to operation.


Hazard Light Use

Hazard light use is permitted while driving.


Tire Chains

Tire chains are permitted, though PennDOT has the authority to make regulations to restrict tire chain use to temporarily periods of a snow and ice emergency.


Studded Tires

Studded tires are permitted November 1 to April 15.


Glass/Window Tinting

No person may drive any motor vehicle with any sunscreening device or other material which does not permit a person to see or view the inside of the vehicle through the windshield, side wing, or side window of the vehicle.

This does not apply to a vehicle which is equipped with tinted windows of the type and specification that were installed by the manufacturer of the vehicle or to any hearse, ambulance, government vehicle, or any other vehicle for which a currently valid certificate of exemption has been issued in accordance with regulations adopted by the Department.

The Department can grant a certificate of exemption for a vehicle that is registered in Pennsylvania and is equipped with any prohibited sunscreening devices for a medical condition certified to the Department by a licensed physician or optometrist.


Telematics

It is unlawful to drive a motor vehicle equipped with a television, or television-type equipment if the television or television equipment is located where the screen is visible to the driver.

It is legal to use electronic displays if used in conjunction with navigation systems.


Radar Detectors

Radar detectors are permitted for passenger vehicles, but prohibited for commercial vehicles.


Windshield Stickers

Windshield stickers are permitted to be displayed if they are an inspection sticker, or an officially required sticker.


Other Equipment Rules

N/A

Motorcycle Equipment

Any motorcycle carrying a passenger, other than in a sidecar or enclosed cab, must be equipped with footrests and a handhold for the passenger.

All motorcyclists under 21 must wear a helmet. Motorcyclists 21 years of age or older who have either been licensed to operate a motorcycle for at least 2 years or who have completed the motorcycle safety program are exempt from wearing a helmet. If the motorcyclist is exempt, their passenger is also exempt as long as they are at least 21 years of age.

All motorcycle riders and passengers must wear protective eye gear.

An occupant of a 3-wheel motorcycle with an enclosed cab does not have to wear a safety helmet or protective eye gear.


Motorcycle Licenses

A motorcycle learner’s permit entitles the person to whom it is issued to operate a motorcycle between sunrise and sunset, and unless already licensed while under the instruction and immediate supervision of a licensed motorcycle operator. Motorcycle learner’s permit holder must not carry any passenger other than an instructor properly licensed to operate the motorcycle.  A person may apply for a motorcycle learner’s permit no more than three times in a five-year period and must successfully pass the motorcycle knowledge test each time he/she reapplies.

If an applicant has successfully completed an approved motorcycle safety course that meets the requirements of the motorcycle operator’s license examination administered by the Department, then the examination is waived.

For a person 16 or 17 years old, in addition to meeting the six-month eligibility period and the 65 hours of on-the-road training, to obtain a motorcycle license, he/she must complete a Basic Rider Course offered by the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program before licensure. The Basic Rider Course counts as 15 hours toward the 65 hours of on-the-road training.


Motorcycle Noise Limits

Every motorcycle must be constructed, equipped, maintained, and operated so that the vehicle does not exceed the sound level for the vehicle.

Every motor vehicle must be equipped with a muffler or other effective noise suppressing system in good working order. No muffler or exhaust system can be equipped with a cutout, bypass, or similar device.

A person must not modify the exhaust system of a motorcycle in a manner that will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the motor vehicle above the maximum levels permitted by Department regulations.


Mopeds & Other

Title, registration, and a license plate are required.

The minimum age to ride a moped is 16.

The following safety equipment is required: brakes, headlamp, tail lamp, side and rear reflex reflectors at night, license plate lamp, stop lamp, and parking lamp.

Trailer Dimensions

Total length: not stated; trailer length: not stated; motor home length: 40 feet; width: 8 feet 6 inches (excluding mirrors, and sunshades and tarps  up to 6 inches); height: 13 feet 6 inches.


Trailer Brakes

Every vehicle or combination of vehicles, except a motorcycle, operated on a highway shall be equipped with a parking brake system adequate to hold the vehicle or combination of vehicles on any grade and under all conditions.

Every vehicle and combination of vehicles operated on a highway must be equipped with a service brake system adequate to control the movement of and to stop and hold the vehicle or combination of vehicles on any grade and under all conditions of loading, and adequate to meet the braking performance standards established by PennDOT regulations.

Of every combination of vehicles operated on a highway, the towed vehicle which is equipped with brakes or which has a gross weight in excess of 3,000 lbs. shall be so equipped that, upon breakaway of the towed vehicle, the towed vehicle shall be stopped and held automatically, and the towing vehicle shall be capable of being stopped and held by use of its own service braking system.


Trailer Hitch/Signals

Whenever 2 vehicles are connected by a ball-and-socket type hitch, or pintle hook without a locking device, they must also be connected by 2 safety chains of equal length, each safety chain having an ultimate strength at least equal to the gross weight of the towed vehicles. The safety chains must be crossed and connected to the towed and towing vehicle and to the towbar to prevent the towbar from dropping to the ground in the event the towbar fails or becomes disconnected. The safety chains must have no more slack than is necessary to permit proper turning.


Trailer Lighting

Trailers and semitrailers do not have to be equipped with headlamps.

All trailer and semitrailer vehicles operated on a highway must be equipped with a rear lighting system including but not limited to rear lamps, rear reflectors, stop lamps, and a license plate light.


Trailer Mirrors

Mirrors may extend on each side a maximum of 6 inches beyond the width of the vehicle or load, whichever is greater.


Trailer Speed Limits

As posted. Fixed maximum limits as follows: (1) rural interstate highways – 65 mph; (2) residential districts on most local highways – 25 mph; (3) urban districts – 35 mph; and (4) in other locations – 55 mph.


Trailer Towing

When 1 vehicle is towing another, the connection must be of sufficient strength to pull all of the weight towed and the distance between the 2 vehicles must not be more than 15 feet.

If the distance between the vehicles is more than 5 feet, a red flag or cloth at least 12 inches square must be displayed on the connection between the vehicles. During the hours of darkness a red light shall be displayed at the same location in lieu of the flag or cloth.

Every trailer must be attached to the towing vehicle so that the path of the trailer’s wheels are no more than 6 inches from the path of the towing vehicle’s wheels.


Trailer Other Provisions

Riding in towed trailers is not permitted, except for a fifth wheel trailer with a communication link with the driver.

Accident Reporting

Crashes are required to be reported immediately in cases of death, injury, or when a vehicle is rendered disables.  All crashes must be reported within 5 days.


Bail Bonds

Mandatory recognition of AAA club guaranteed arrest bond certificates up to $200, for any motor vehicle law violation except violations involving driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquors, drugs, or narcotics, failure to appear for violations, driving on a suspended/revoked driver’s license, hit and run, failure to present evidence of insurance, illegal use or falsification of license or registration, engaging in a felony, attempting to elude/eluding police, or while driving a vehicle used for commercial purposes.


Liability Laws

Pennsylvania has compulsory liability insurance law, sale and purchase are optional.

Minimum liability insurance coverage must be at least $15,000 for injury or death of 1 person in an accident; $30,000 for the injury or death of more than 1 person in an accident; and $5,000 for damage to the property of another person.

Proof of financial responsibility must be furnished by filing evidence satisfactory to the Department that all motor vehicles registered in a person’s name are covered by motor vehicle liability insurance or by a program of self-insurance as provided by the Department or other reliable financial arrangements, deposits, resources, or commitments acceptable to the Department. Proof of coverage required at all times.

State has non-resident service of process law. Does not have guest suit law.


Weigh Stations

Regardless of size, the following vehicles are subject to inspection and weigh station examinations: (1) agriculture vehicles when using public highways; (2) passenger and specialty vehicles towing large trailers; (3) large recreational vehicles, and (4) trucks.


Bicycles

Bicycle helmets must be worn for riders under age 12.

Drivers passing a bicycle rider must pass with a space of 4 feet between the motor vehicle and the bicycle.  Drivers may cross the center line if safe to do so.


Other

Pennsylvania is party to the Non-resident Violator compact.

Except where necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic or to protect the safety of another person, it is unlawful to stop, stand, or park a vehicle on the roadway side of any vehicle stopped or parked at the edge of a curb, on a sidewalk, within an intersection, on a crosswalk, upon a bridge, on any railroad tracks, in the area between roadways of a divided highway, any place where official signs prohibit stopping, in front of a public or private driveway, within 15 feet of a fire hydrant, within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection, within 30 feet upon the approach to any flashing signal or traffic sign, where the vehicle would prevent the free movement of a street car, within 50 feet of the nearest railroad crossing, and within 20 feet of the driveway entrance to a fire station.