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. The registration plate and card must be surrendered to PennDOT in order to serve the suspension. Restoration fees and proof of insurance must be submitted prior to having your registration restored.
In lieu of serving a registration suspension, you have the option to pay a civil penalty. The optional civil penalty fee is $500. Additionally, you are required to pay a restoration fee. Please refer to Form MV-70S, “The Bureau of Motor Vehicles Schedule of Fees,” for the current fees. You may opt to pay the civil penalty in lieu of suspension no more than once in a 12-month period. Payment of the civil penalty, along with your restoration fee and proof of current insurance, will allow you to maintain registration on your vehicle without the requirement to serve a three month registration suspension. To use this option, visit PennDOT’s Online Services by using the link for Restorations followed by Pay Your Civil Penalty Fee in Lieu of FR Suspension. Complete the required steps, or you may mail your certified check or money order payable to the PA Department of Transportation, with current proof of insurance and completed Form MV-222 (PDF), “Application for Payment of Civil Penalty in Lieu of Registration Suspension,” to the address on the form. Please refer to Form MV-70S, “The Bureau of Motor Vehicles Schedule of Fees,” for the current fees.
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 and registration card to PennDOT at the time the insurance policy is cancelled or financial responsibility lapses. Registration plates and registration cards must be received by PennDOT no more than 30 days after insurance was cancelled. Registration plates and registration cards received by PennDOT after 30 days will result in a three-month registration suspension. To surrender the registration plate and registration 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.
- The customer may opt to pay the civil penalty in lieu of suspension no more than once in a 12-month period.
- 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 and registration card 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 the registration plate and registration card to PennDOT 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 and registration card.
- 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.
Proof of Insurance
WHAT CONSTITUTES ACCEPTABLE PROOF OF INSURANCE?
- A copy of the insurance identification (ID) card issued by an insurance carrier or by a self-insured.
- A copy of the declaration page of an insurance policy issued when a policy is created or renewed and is generally received at the same time as the insurance ID card. The declaration page generally lists what vehicles are covered in the policy as well as drivers or;
- A copy of a valid binder of insurance which contains all information required to appear on the ID card, excluding the policy number, and is signed by a licensed insurance agent or broker. Binders are issued when a new policy is created and serves as a temporary proof of insurance document. This is valid for 30 or 60 days. If the customer submits a binder, they will be required to submit proof of insurance again once the binder expires. If they cannot provide proof in the form of any acceptable forms of insurance, they will be required to serve the suspension or;
- A copy of an application for insurance to the Pennsylvania Assigned Risk Plan which contains all information required to appear on the ID card, excluding the policy number, and is signed by a licensed producer (insurance agent).
- A copy of a letter from the insurance carrier that verifies the proof of financial responsibility of the insured on official company letterhead signed by an underwriter of the insurance company.
What Motor Vehicles Are Covered By the Law?
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 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
Your insurance company sends you an insurance identification (ID) card valid for only the period for which coverage has been paid. Always carry your insurance ID card in your vehicle.
Failure to maintain liability insurance on a registered vehicle may result in a three-month suspension of your vehicle registration privilege. You can find out more information by downloading the Insurance Law Fact Sheet (PDF).