Barry J. Schoch, P.E., Secretary, Department of Transportation
Selling a Vehicle
The following information will assist you with the proper procedures when selling a vehicle in Pennsylvania. The buyer and seller should meet at the office of an authorized agent, tag service, or motor vehicle dealer to ensure the title application is completed correctly. If you financed the vehicle you’re trying to sell, the certificate of title in your name would be held by your lienholder. You would have to obtain the certificate of title from your lienholder in order to sell the vehicle.
Vehicle ownership documents issued by vehicle manufacturers and titling jurisdictions that provide specific vehicle information and used as the legal document to transfer ownership of the vehicle are known as “proof of ownership” documents. The following are the acceptable proof of ownership documents:
Manufacturer Certificate/Statement of Origin (MCO or MSO)
Pennsylvania Certificate of Title
Out of State Certificate of Title
Certificate of Salvage Court Order
The seller must indicate the mileage of the vehicle in the appropriate spaces provided on the ownership document. After the title is transferred,
the seller must remove the license plate from the vehicle. The license plate should be returned to PennDOT at Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Return Tag Unit, P.O. Box 68597, Harrisburg, PA 17106-8597, unless the seller is planning to transfer the plate to another vehicle. More information may be viewed in our Buying or Selling Your Car in Pennsylvania fact sheet.
Department of Revenue: Motor Vehicle Understated Value Program
When purchasing or selling used vehicles (including motorcycles) in Pennsylvania, many taxpayers are unaware that sales tax due to the Department of Revenue is a percentage of the fair market value of a vehicle, rather than a percentage of the purchase price.
When a purchase price is set considerably lower than fair market value – as often happens in transactions between family members - the PA Department of Revenue has the authority to review the transaction to determine and collect the correct amount of sales tax due.
For more information, please visit the Motor Vehicle Understated Value Program page on the PA Department of Revenue’s website.