Titling Process in Pennsylvania

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    Crossing Rebecca

    The complexity of this process took me by surprise, so I thought I’d write something up that might help other builders.

    I will note that as I have a metal-working son, he decided to build the actual metal trailer from parts rather than have us buy one.  In terms of dealing with state law, this undoubtedly made life more complicated for us.  Not impossible, just more time-consuming.

    From the standpoint of Pennsylvania law, this is now a specially constructed RECT (recreational trailer.  We decided to put the lights on the back of the teardrop itself, for greater visibility.

    This means that you need to get the trailer inspected at a special station. There is a list of these stations on the DOT website.  Not all special inspection stations inspect all vehicles.  Before you go, ask them about getting it weighed.  I  think some inspection stations have scales.  Mine needed a weight slip that could be obtained at a local metal scrap dealer.  They didn’t tell me to go there first.  You need to have all your receipts gathered together for the titling process, to prove that you did not steal this vehicle.  Of course for the inspection you need to be sure to have all of your signal lights working.  We didn’t flunk inspection but getting this to work delayed our inspection by a week.  It was harder than we expected it to be.

    You can then take the paperwork to a tag place.  It has to be one of the special places that handles this kind of work (another list on the DOT website.). NONE of them will be able to give you instant tags, despite what happens with cars, and regardless of what connections they have online.  I wasted some time shopping around the different tag places.  This needs special review in Harrisburg where they will put things in the mail.

    Because we were anxious to get things going and (not surprisingly) the last minute important details had taken longer than we expected, I elected to drive 2 hours to Harrisburg and present my paper work personally.  The person at one tag place thought that they could review it instantly and issue the tags (NO–They will not do it.  I will concede that I did not attempt bribery.  Don’t know whether that would have worked or gotten me arrested.  Didn’t want to try.). The very nice person at the desk reviewed my paper work, and took it to the reviewer upstairs for processing.  They kicked it out because we did not have reflectors.  Bring it back with photos of mounted reflectors.All four sides of camper with reflectors circled

    I’m sure the inspector should have caught this problem.  He did not.  Had this gone by mail or even messenger service, it would have been quite a while before I got the notice that I had to fix this before I could get tags and titles.  So I’m glad that I made the drive to Harrisburg.

    The kind counter person told me to bring it back to her personally with the photos showing that we had complied.  She told me that she would take it upstairs and beg for instant processing so that we could get the plate right away and be able to drive it legally.

    I did this.  It was reviewed instantly, but the supervisor informed us that it was not possible to get the plates instantly–they had to be mailed.  She promised they would go out that day.  We’ll see what happens.

    Another aspect of this whole process is that Pennsylvania looks at those receipts and collects sales tax on anything that has been purchased out of state on which you have not already paid sales tax–like the kits that were shipped from CLC.  I know that strictly speaking this sales tax is owed to Pennsylvania on anything that you buy mail order without paying tax on–but I don’t know anyone who actually gathers up invoices and finds the forms and pays these taxes.  Here is one situation in which they collect the tax.  I’m sure all of this varies by state.  But others may want to be aware that this is a time and money eating situation that could crop up at the end of your build.


    went through this and went to Harrisburg twice and waited 3 months for the tag

    Crossing Rebecca

    Oh my!  I’m sure hoping it won’t take me that long.

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