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Do I have to have a Pennsylvania driver's license to buy a car in PA?


No, normally to buy a car you do not need to have a driver's license however to register, title and insure a car you will usually need a license or at least identification. In Pennsylvania you should be able to buy a car without a license or with an out of state license however you will need a PA license or PA accepted identification to title and register a car in Pennsylvania.

The Driver and Vehicle Services section of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) states that individuals are required to have a valid form of Pennsylvania identification in order to make application to title and register a vehicle in PA.

PennDOT notes that the Department of Driver Services will only allow agents to issue title and registration documents to customers who provide one of the following credentials for identification purposes:

  1. a valid Pennsylvania Photo Driver's License
  2. a valid Pennsylvania Photo Identification Card
  3. a valid Pennsylvania Photo Exempt Driver's License
  4. a valid Pennsylvania Photo Exempt Identification Card
  5. a valid U.S. Armed Forces Common Access Card - Dependents of Armed Forces Personnel must provide a valid United States Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card (DD Form 1173)

So, you do not need a Pennsylvania driver's license but you will need to show a valid form of ID from the list above so that you can title and register a car in this state. If you are unable to get a PA driver's license for some reason you should check into getting a PA identification card to show was an authorized type of ID to register your car. If you have an out of state license but now live in PA you should change over your license to a Pennsylvania driver's license so that you can title and register a newly purchased car in your new state.

If you are without a driver's license from PA or out of state then you may be able to purchase, title and register a vehicle but getting auto insurance will be a bit difficult normally. Car insurance companies require you to have a valid driver's license normally since your driving record is a major rating factor when deciding your auto insurance premiums.

When registering a car you must show proof of Pennsylvania auto insurance. This means all motor vehicles subject to registration such as cars, vans, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, trucks and buses must have liability insurance. You are in compliance with the PA law if you have liability insurance in the following amounts:

  • $15,000 for injury or death of one person in an accident
  • $30,000 for injury or death of more than one person in an accident
  • $5,000 for damage to property of another person

This insurance is referred to as 15/30/5 and you may want to get higher limits to better protect yourself and your assets. Also if you have a lien holder on your vehicle they will normally require you to have collision coverage and comprehensive coverage on the vehicle as well.

While PA may only require an accepted form of ID for you to get a car registered and titled most all insurance companies require you to have a valid driver's license as we noted earlier. Without a valid driver's license an insurance carrier will not normally want to insure you since you should not be driving a car. If you have a reason for not having a valid driver's license you may be able to find an insurer what will exclude you as a driver and list the person that will be driving the vehicle as the primary driver.

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2 Responses to "Do I have to have a Pennsylvania driver's license to buy a car in PA?"
  1. fred

    I live in Pennsylvania and Florida. My primary residence is Florida with a Florida insured and Florida registered car. My other car is insured and registered in Pennsylvania. Am I fully covered and legal in Pennsylvania and having a Florida drivers license?

    1. Norman November 07, 2019 at 9:05 AM

      How did you get that done since Pa requires you to have a pa license and insurance to register a vehicle in pa. You also need pa insurance on that vehicle and insurance companies usually check your license and driving record fior the state your applying in. I have the same issues where I live in Maryland and Pennsylvania and my vehicles are registered in Md. I am looking to buy a car in pa with current inspection and it would stay at my Pa home but im told I can only do that if I have a pa license and insurance

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