Selling a Car in Pennsylvania

When you’re selling a vehicle in Pennsylvania, there are some state-specific requirements that you have to meet. We’ve collected the appropriate information here about these requirements so you can be fully prepared to experience an easy vehicle sale.

1. Title Information

In Pennsylvania, you can only sell a vehicle if you have total ownership of it. In other words, any “lien” (loan) on the vehicle must be paid off before you can sell the vehicle. If you have paid off a lien, double-check your title to make certain that the lien has been released. If not, have the lienholder submit a lien release to the state. You will not be able to sell the vehicle until the lien release has been accepted by Pennsylvania.

You should also make certain that you have the actual title. If you cannot find the title, you’ll need to request a replacement title from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT). You will need the physical title so that you can fill out the necessary information for the buyer as proof of the transfer of the vehicle. Both your signature and the buyer’s signature will be necessary and must be notarized. Pennsylvania suggests having both the buyer and seller fill out the form at a DOT office.

Also be aware that in Pennsylvania, owners can have electronic titles. If you have one and intend to sell your vehicle, you must first get a paper title.

2. Bill of Sale Requirements

Pennsylvania requires a Bill of Sale for any vehicle sale. Make sure the Bill of Sale includes these elements:

  • The new owner’s name
  • The full address of the new owner, which cannot be a P.O. box
  • The seller’s name
  • The full address of the seller, which cannot be a P.O. box
  • The date of the sale
  • The sale price
  • A full and detailed vehicle description, including the vehicle’s make, model, year, series number (if applicable) and body type (2-door, 4-door, sedan, etc.), as well as the vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • The vehicle odometer reading at the time of sale
  • The signature of the seller
  • The signature of the buyer

3. Inspections

Pennsylvania requires vehicle safety inspections on a yearly basis. All vehicles are subject to this safety inspection. Until 2004, the inspection had to coincide with the annual registration renewal, but this is no longer the case. The two can happen at any point in the year. You must make certain that the inspection is current before selling your vehicle.

Several counties in Pennsylvania require vehicle emission testing that coincides with the safety inspections. The testing must be done at one of the DOT stations.

4. License Plates

In Pennsylvania, when you sell a vehicle, its license plates stay with you rather than with the vehicle. Transferring the plates is entirely legal within the state and is possible as long as the new vehicle is registered in the same name as the plates. If you are not going to transfer the plates to a new vehicle, make sure you return them to a DOT office before you cancel your insurance or you could face unintended fines or liability for the vehicle after you’ve sold it.

5. Odometer Disclosure Requirements

Pennsylvania requires you to formally disclose the vehicle odometer reading when you sell a vehicle that is 10 years old or newer. Filling out the odometer section on the title fulfills this requirement.

6. Other Information

If you have questions or want more details on vehicle selling, check out the website for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.