Whether you’re new to Pennsylvania, buying a new bike, or buying a used motorcycle in PA or out of state, you have a limited amount of time to have your bike inspected, get a Pennsylvania title, and register your motorcycle.
Make sure you’re aware of the requirements ahead of time, especially when it comes to buying a used motorcycle. The last thing you want to worry about is being unable to register a motorcycle in PA because it doesn’t have a title, you didn’t get the right signatures, or a lienholder refuses to release the title.
Here’s everything you need to know about the PA motorcycle registration process including everything you need to bring and potential issues you may encounter.
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Pennsylvania Vehicle Title Transfer & PA Title Application
To register a motorcycle in PA, you must have a Pennsylvania vehicle title. The dealer is responsible for sending the title application to PennDOT when you buy a new motorcycle. Otherwise, you will need to complete the application yourself as a new resident or when buying a used motorcycle. If you are a new resident of Pennsylvania, you are required to apply for a Pennsylvania title and registration within 20 days of establishing residency.
There are two Pennsylvania title application forms. The correct form depends on whether the motorcycle has been previously titled in Pennsylvania.
For new residents
Within 20 days of moving to Pennsylvania, you must title and register your out-of-state motorcycle. Here is what you will need:
- Form MV-1, Application for Certificate of Title
- VIN tracing attached to Form MV-1
- Out-of-state title surrendered to PennDOT
- Proof of identification
- Proof of insurance
If you have a lien, the lienholder must be listed on the form. Make sure you contact your lienholder before filling out the form. Many lienholders will not release the Certificate of Title to another state until the lien is satisfied. You may need to pay the lien in full or refinance the balance with a Pennsylvania lender.
In some cases, the lienholder may be willing to release the title directly to PennDOT. In this case, you can contact the PennDOT call center at 717-412-5300 to have a letter sent to your lienholder. You can learn more in this PennDOT Fact Sheet.
Transferring a Pennsylvania motorcycle title
PennDOT recommends buyers and sellers meet at a motor vehicle dealer or notary public to make sure the title application is completed properly. The transfer process must be completed by an authorized PennDOT agent, tag service, or motor vehicle dealer.
The following must be completed:
- The seller must disclose the odometer reading, sign and print their name, and fill out the buyer’s name and address in the presence of an authorized agent
- The buyer must sign in the space provided in the presence of the agent
- The buyer must complete Section D on the front of the title including lien information, if applicable
- The lienholder’s FIN must be included if they participate in the Electronic Lien and Title Program
Sections A and D must be signed and notarized to complete the title transfer. Note that all named owners must sign the vehicle title.
You will use Form MV-4ST, Vehicle Sales and Use Tax Return/Application for Registration to get a PA Certificate of Title for a motorcycle already titled in Pennsylvania.
If you are buying a motorcycle out-of-state, the odometer reading must be provided and the seller must sign in the appropriate place. Some out-of-state titles require the seller’s signature be notarized. You can then apply for a PA motorcycle title through an authorized PennDOT agent.
To receive a Pennsylvania motorcycle title, you will need to complete VIN tracing or verification. This is necessary when a vehicle was previously registered or titled in another state or to a non-resident. You must attach the VIN tracing to Form MV-1, Application for Certificate of Title. Otherwise, a certified inspection mechanic, notary public at a dealership or full agent can inspect and verify the VIN.
You will need:
- Form MV-1, Application for Certificate of Title (only available from authorized PennDOT agents)
- Out-of-state title signed by the seller (and notarized if required) with the odometer reading
PA Motorcycle Registration – Steps for Registering a Motorcycle in PA
Obtaining a Pennsylvania vehicle title establishes your ownership of your bike, but you must still register the bike and get a registration plate. Registering your motorcycle is a straightforward process as long as you have all the paperwork you need. Note that the same form to apply for a title is also used to apply for registration.
PennDOT Motorcycle Registration Requirements
Here are the basic documents you will need to register your motorcycle.
- Proof of identification (PA driver’s license, temporary driver’s license, or other credential on this list)
- Proof of insurance (see valid forms)
- Form MV-1, Application for Certificate of Title or Form MV-4ST, Vehicle Sales and Use Tax Return/Application for Registration
Don’t forget that vehicles newly registered in Pennsylvania must have a safety inspection performed within 10 days of the registration date! If the motorcycle was already titled in Pennsylvania, you do not need a new inspection as long as the inspection stickers are valid.
Pennsylvania DMV Title Transfer Process
Once you have the motorcycle titled, you will complete the registration process at the same time. If you already have a PA registration plate, you can transfer it to the motorcycle you are buying. If the bike is already titled in Pennsylvania, Form MV-4ST is completed by an authorized agent to indicate whether you are transferring a plate or want a new plate.
If you are not transferring a registration plate, you can receive a temporary registration plate for your motorcycle which is valid for 90 days. Issuing a temporary plate or transferring a plate requires acceptable proof of insurance.
Your new PA motorcycle registration will expire in 12 or 24 months depending on eligibility.
Pennsylvania Title & Registration Fees for Motorcycles
Be aware of the following fees to title and register a motorcycle in PA.
- Pennsylvania motorcycle registration fee: $21 for one year or $42 for two years
- Registration plate transfer fee: $9
- Certificate of Title fee: $58
- Recording a lien fee: $28
The Pennsylvania registration fee includes a standard registration plate for a first-time registration. Specialty registration plates have additional fees that vary with an extra cost for personalization. You can see all PennDOT title and registration fees here.
PA Motorcycle Inspections
If you’re a new resident, you may not be aware of the PA motorcycle inspection laws. Pennsylvania requires annual vehicle safety inspections for almost all vehicles, but some vehicles like school buses must be inspected even more often.
A PA motorcycle inspection must be performed at an official PennDOT Inspection Station which is usually an auto repair garage. You can click here to find PA motorcycle inspection stations near you.
You will need your valid registration card when the inspection is performed.
Note that enhanced vehicle safety inspections performed by designated inspection stations are necessary for reconstructed, collectible, modified, flooded, specially constructed, and recovered theft vehicles.
What does a Pennsylvania motorcycle inspection cover?
The motorcycle inspection PA checklist includes:
- Braking system
- Wheels and tires
- Electrical and lighting systems
- Fuel system
- Exhaust system
- Warning devices and horns
Vehicle Equipment & Inspection Regulations Subchapter H provides all the equipment standards for motorcycles operated in the state. Section 175.160 explains how the inspection is performed, what is acceptable, and a list of rejection criteria for motorcycles.
How often is a PA motorcycle inspection done?
A safety inspection is required when initially registering a motorcycle in PA. You are required to pass a safety inspection every year when you renew your Pennsylvania motorcycle registration.
Annual motorcycle inspections are conducted on a schedule between May and October. No motorcycle inspections are performed from November to April. If your inspection is due to expire within three months and it’s outside the inspection schedule, six months will automatically be added to the expiration date.
You can see the PA motorcycle inspection schedule here.
What is the cost of motorcycle inspection in PA?
The PA motorcycle inspection fee varies by inspection station. Official PA motorcycle inspection stations must post their inspection fees. You may pay anywhere from $20 to $150 for a test plus additional fees. PA motorcycle inspection stickers are $9 which may or may not be included in the inspection cost. This does not include any costs for necessary repairs for your bike to pass the safety inspection.
Do motorcycles need to pass emissions testing in Pennsylvania?
A Pennsylvania vehicle inspection is done at the same time as PA emissions tests. You can visit the Drive Clean Pennsylvania site to learn more about emission test requirements by region.
Motorcycles are exempt from Pennsylvania emissions testing.
Now you know how to take care of your PA motorcycle registration, transfer a title, and pass the inspection. Are you in the market for a new bike? If you’re buying a used bike in Pennsylvania or out-of-state, Federal Motorcycle Transport can help with the logistics of getting it home. We have more than 30 years of experience as a trusted motorcycle shipper! Get started with a free quote on reliable Pennsylvania motorcycle shipping service.