A camper or camper trailer is commonly known as a recreational vehicle (RV). It is usually attached to a hitch in the middle of a truck bed or on a ball hitch. The closest term to a camper in Pennsylvania statutes is “recreational trailer,” defined as a trailer designed or adapted to provide temporary living quarters for noncommercial recreational, camping or travel use.
Pennsylvania requires that a recreational trailer be registered and titled. An owner can submit an application for Pennsylvania title and registration for a recreational trailer at their nearest Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office.
Documents Necessary to Register Campers
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) requires that a new resident of the state submit an application for Pennsylvania title and registration of a motor vehicle within 20 days of establishing residency in Pennsylvania. This requirement extends to recreational trailer registration.
The documents needed to title and register an out-of-state vehicle or recreational trailer in Pennsylvania include:
- Proof of ownership in the form of valid out-of-state certificate or title.
- Manufacturer certificate of origin (MCO) or manufacturer statement of origin (MSO).
- Certificate of salvage, provided when a vehicle is declared a total loss.
- Court order for a recreational trailer that is subject of involuntary transfer of ownership.
Providing Proof of Ownership
If titling a leased recreational trailer, a leasing company must also submit an application for lessee information (form MV-1L). Pennsylvania does not require an applicant for titling and registration to submit a bill of sale.
A vehicle owner should provide one of the types of proof of ownership provided above to satisfy this requirement, rather than a bill of sale. In addition, the owner must provide PennDOT with proof of identification in the form of a valid Pennsylvania:
- Photo driver’s license.
- Photo ID card.
- Photo exempt driver’s license.
- Photo exempt identification card.
- U.S. armed forces common access card.
Proof of Financial Responsibility
The vehicle owner must also show proof of financial responsibility, meaning vehicle insurance, in the form of:
- Valid insurance identification card issued by an insurance carrier or be self-insured.
- Declaration page of an insurance policy.
- Copy of a valid binder of insurance, defined as a temporary policy that serves as a placeholder until the formal policy is issued.
- Copy of application for insurance to the Pennsylvania Assigned Risk Plan, a program that provides coverage for high-risk drivers who have been unable to find other insurance.
Additional Registration Requirements
The owner must submit an application for certificate of title. The owner and all co-owners are required to be present for signature and notarization purposes. Form MV-1 must be completed in full by an authorized PennDOT agent and contain a verified Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
The owner should attach a tracing of the VIN plate or have the VIN verified in section A of form MV-1 or in section B of form MV-41 by an authorized Pennsylvania notary public employed by a dealer, full agent or a Pennsylvania certified inspection mechanic.
If required, county sales tax must be paid. If a person has owned a recreational trailer less than six months, sales tax is due; if the person has owned the recreational trailer more than six months, they may use the sales tax exemption and no sales tax is due.
Trailer Registration Fees
The fee to register a recreational trailer depends on the weight of the trailer. A trailer of 13,000 lbs. or less may be registered for periods of one year or five years. A recreational trailer that weighs:
- 8,000 lbs. or less has a $12 fee for one-year registration and a $60 fee for five-year registration.
- Between 8,001 and 13,000 lbs. has a $36 fee for a one-year registration and a $180 fee for a five-year registration.
- 13,001 lbs. or more has a $94 fee for a one-year registration. The five-year registration option is not available for this weight of recreational trailer. A permanent registration option is available for $442.
A trailer or semi-trailer is distinct from a recreational trailer. This type of trailer costs less to register. The fee for a trailer or semi-trailer is also based on weight.
Specially Constructed Vehicles
A specially constructed vehicle is a vehicle that was not originally constructed under a distinctive name, make, model or type by a generally recognized vehicle manufacturer. A homemade trailer fits into this definition.
A specially constructed vehicle must undergo an enhanced vehicle safety inspection. This procedure is performed at an enhanced vehicle safety inspection station.
Make and Model Year of a Specially Constructed Vehicle
PennDOT will not assign a model year to a specially constructed vehicle, and the Pennsylvania certificate of title and registration credentials for such a vehicle will not list a model year. The make of the vehicle will be designated as “specially constructed.”
If an odometer was serviced, repaired or replaced during the construction of the vehicle, the odometer reading must remain the same as before the service, repair or replacement.
After the vehicle is titled and registered, a specially constructed vehicle, with the exception of a trailer with a registered gross weight of 3,000 lbs. or less, is subject to periodic safety inspections. A periodic inspection can be performed at any inspection station in Pennsylvania. A vehicle must be inspected only at an enhanced vehicle safety inspection station for initial titling.
Getting a Duplicate Title in Pennsylvania
When a person owns a recreational trailer on which a lien has been satisfied, and they need to obtain a duplicate title, they must complete form MV-380. The completed form must be submitted to PennDOT with the appropriate fee.
As of October 2022, the fee for a duplicate title is $58. If the owner is applying for a duplicate title in another state and is using an out-of-state address, they must also submit a copy of the applicant’s out-of-state driver’s license and a utility bill, bank statement, credit card statement or tax records with the applicant’s name and out-of-state address.
A vehicle owner can apply for a duplicate registration card online. They can also get this card for free if they renew their registration online. There is no fee to get a duplicate vehicle registration card if the owner applies online.
- Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes: Title 75, Vehicles
- Pennsylvania Bureau of Motor Vehicles: Schedule of Fees
- Pennsylvania Department of Transportation: Fact Sheet: How to Title and Register Your Out-of-State Vehicle in Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania Department of Transportation: Motor Vehicle Information for New Residents
- PennDOT Driver & Vehicle Services: Buying or Selling a Vehicle
- Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles: Fact Sheet: Specially Constructed Vehicle Titling Procedure
- PennDOT Driver & Vehicle Services: Duplicate Motor Vehicle Products
- Pennsylvania Department of Transportation: Application for Duplicate Certificate of Title by Owner
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.