Owning a car is more than just having a vehicle to take you places. It comes with a lot more responsibility. For your vehicle to be considered legal in Pennsylvania, you must have certain documents you can produce when asked.
Vehicle registration is the most important document any car owner should have. The registration links to you and your location. This is why changing your address must be followed by an update of your vehicle registration information.
This means that you must register your vehicle before taking it on the road, and in Pennsylvania, new residents are also required to register their out-of-state vehicles. Additionally, you cannot register your new vehicle without proof of insurance. So, if you do not have that already, you should work on it.
Vehicle registration is very important as it enables the government to keep track of vehicle owners. This information helps them track criminal activities and evaluate taxes. It also helps vehicle owners to protect themselves better.
Why is this information important?
There are two main reasons why you will need to perform a PA registration lookup.
Before purchasing a used vehicle
Before purchasing any vehicle, you should find out all you can about the vehicle. Doing a vehicle registration check will let you know the true owner of the car if the car has been involved in any crime or accident, or if it was recalled. It will also help you know if the details of the vehicle you were given are correct. This is mostly used by insurers or businesses to determine whether the information offered by a vehicle owner was true.
To ensure the vehicle is safe to use
The Pennsylvania DMV office usually inspects vehicles annually to ensure they are safe for the owners and other road users. Only PennDOT Inspection Stations can officially conduct safety inspections and only inspected vehicles are allowed on the road.
When there is an accident
In case there is an accident, you can track the vehicle using the vehicle registration number. You can choose to do this yourself or have your insurance company do it on your behalf.
How can I access vehicle registration information in PA?
The DMV in Pennsylvania keeps all vehicle registration information for 10 years. Therefore, if you are looking for information older than 10 years, you may not be able to get it.
To access vehicle registration information, you will need to lodge a formal request for vehicle information. This is done by filling in Form DL-135. The form requires you to know information including:
- Name, address, city, and contact information of the vehicle owner. You will need to provide the physical address of the owner. The DMV will not accept a P.O. Box.
- Your name, address, city, and contact information
- Their signature. The signature may not be required if you are getting your own information.
- Vehicle information, including the tag number or license number, the title number, and the vehicle identification number, or VIN. You cannot use a tag or license number alone to get the information you need.
If you are looking for the history of your vehicle, you will not be required to notarize the form. Notarization is only required when accessing another owner’s information, which can be done by having them sign the form (to give you access to their records).
The PA DMV takes the privacy of its citizens seriously and will not give out information without permission from the owner. The only way you can access vehicle registration information without consent is if:
- You work for an insurance company and need the information for settlement purposes or to analyze the vehicle.
- You are a government agent or a law enforcement agent and are accessing another’s vehicle details on behalf of a Federal, state, or local agency.
- You are looking to confirm if the details given by your employees are correct, and the details will be needed in case of fraud or to pursue legal recourse.
- The vehicle information is needed in court or arbitration.
- You seek to inform the owner that their car has been towed.
- You will use the information for research or are creating statistical reports. However, any personal information should not be used to contact the owner, published, or shared in any way.
How much does it cost?
You will be required to pay a non-refundable $12 fee for every record you check. If you require the information to be certified, each record will cost $38. This amount cannot be paid in cash.
You will need to write a check or make a money order payable to the Commonwealth of PA and send it to the Department of Transportation’s address:
Bureau of Driver Licensing
Vehicle Record Services
P.O. Box 68691
Harrisburg, PA 17106-8691
Though you can request vehicle information, PA DMV can deny your request, especially when they deem your request unauthorized.