Tom Corbett, Governor Barry J. Schoch, P.E., Secretary, Department of Transportation

Financial Responsibility Overview

Pennsylvania law requires all Pennsylvania motor vehicle owners to maintain vehicle liability insurance (financial responsibility) on a currently registered vehicle. Vehicle liability insurance covers the property damage or injuries you may cause others in a crash.

A lapse in insurance coverage results in the suspension of your vehicle registration privilege for three months, unless the lapse of insurance was for a period of less than 31 days and the owner or registrant proves to PennDOT that the vehicle was not operated during this short lapse in coverage. If PennDOT determines that you operated your vehicle without the required insurance, your driver's license will also be suspended for three months. The registration plate, sticker, card and driver's license must be surrendered to PennDOT in order to serve the suspension. Restoration fees of $50.00 and proof of insurance must be submitted prior to having either registration or driving privileges returned.

You can go online to request and print a free vehicle registration restoration requirements letter, which outlines certain criteria that must be met before a vehicle's registration can be restored. To request and print your restoration requirements letter, visit "Request a VR Restoration Requirements Letter". Users will need to provide the first eight numbers of the vehicle title number, the last four numbers of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) if the VIN is more than four digits long and the first two characters of the owner's last name or the first two characters of the company's name if a company owns the vehicle.

Please note that insurance companies are required to notify PennDOT when an insurance policy is cancelled by the insured. Insurance companies are NOT required by law to notify PennDOT when a vehicle owner acquires a new insurance policy with the same or different insurance company. It is the vehicle owner's responsibility to notify PennDOT of the new insurance after receiving a proof letter from PennDOT. Failure to respond to PennDOT's proof letter will result in the suspension of the vehicle registration. A suspension may be avoided by the return of the registration plate, sticker and card to PennDOT at the time the insurance policy is cancelled or financial responsibility lapses. Registration plates, stickers and cards must be received by PennDOT no more than 30 days after insurance was cancelled. Registration plates, stickers and cards received by PennDOT after 30 days will result in a three-month registration suspension. To surrender the registration plate, sticker and card, mail them to:

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

Important: Any vehicle which is currently registered MUST have insurance (financial responsibility). Customers should always surrender their registration plate to PennDOT when insurance is not in effect, even if the vehicle is in for repairs or being stored and not being driven. Otherwise a suspension of the registration may occur.

Other Items

  • If a customer transfers their plate to another vehicle before or within 30 days of the cancellation, the record will be rescinded.
  • If a customer transfers their plate after 30 days of the cancellation, credit will start from the date the plate was transferred. The suspension is imposed against the vehicle, not the plate.
  • The customer has the right to appeal the registration suspension within 30 days of the mail date of the official notice. They cannot file the appeal after the 30 days.
  • If a suspension has been issued and the customer's plate has been destroyed, a notarized affidavit must be sent to PennDOT indicating the disposition of the plate and the date it was destroyed. Credit for serving the three month suspension will begin from the postmark date when the notarized affidavit is received by PennDOT.
  • If the plate has been stolen, a copy of the police incident report must be submitted to PennDOT.
  • If the vehicle was sold to a motorist in another state prior to the lapse of insurance, a copy of the bill of sales will rescind the suspension.
  • If the motorist returned the registration plate, card and sticker to PennDOT but PennDOT has no record of receiving them, then the customer must submit a notarized affidavit indicating that the registration plate was sent into PennDOT to begin a registration suspension. The affidavit must also include the registration plate number, Title Number or Vehicle Identification Number, your signature and date. Credit for serving the three month suspension will begin from the postmark date when the notarized affidavit is received by PennDOT.
  • If the registration plate was left on a vehicle that was sold, traded or transferred, send PennDOT a copy of the front and back of the Certificate of Title or bill of sale indicating the new owner. A copy may be obtained from the notary, messenger, agent or dealer who assisted with this transaction.
  • If your vehicle was repossessed and you are going to recover your vehicle, you must keep valid insurance on your vehicle. If you are going to cancel your insurance while your vehicle is repossessed, you must send to PennDOT the registration plate, card and sticker within 30 days of the cancellation date to avoid the vehicle registration being suspended.
  • If your vehicle was repossessed and you are not going to recover your vehicle, you can either transfer that registration plate to another vehicle or send PennDOT the registration plate, card and sticker.
  • If the plate was taken from the customer by a police officer, the customer should submit a copy of the acknowledgement of seizure letter issued by the police officer. The date provided on the copy of the acknowledgement of seizure letter and the date the police officer took the plate is one in the same.

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