The three state problem

So here’s the deal:

My sister just graduated from New York and got a job in Illinois. In the mean time she’s staying with me in PA. Her driver’s license is from NY, but she’ll move to Illinois next month. We’re planning to buy her a car from a private source here in PA. I don’t know how I should go about doing all the proper paperwork. Please help!

Call your PA DMV.


If you’re buying the car in PA it will be titled in PA. Your sister will have to switch the registration when she moves.

Your local auto tag service or AAA will help you sort it out.

She will almost certainly have to pay taxes in every state she registers it in. I know that PA has a safety inspection, so there’s an extra expense. If NY has a similar inspection, she’ll have to pay for that one. On way around double taxes and double safety inspections is to buy the car just before moving and drive it to IL with temporary tags. Contact the PA Department of Transportation and find out how they would handle a sale like this. Here they are now:

If the answers aren’t there, click on the ‘contact’ button on the bottom of the screen.

Currency Exchanges take care of plates and plate renewals in IL. She can get a temporary 30 day permit in IL without a license. Call a Currency exchange in the place she is going to, They can walk you through the details. My only suggestion is when you title it in IL new to her they will charge sales tax based on the value of the car if more than the sale price. If you pay sales tax on the transaction you may end up double taxed vs having her buy the car (even with your funds)directly

Depending on the value of the car, and the tax/registration penalties…

  1. Could she rent an “extended stay” room in IL, long enough to get the car titled? Then she’d be “visiting a friend” in PA and not need to xfer over.

  2. Could she get a mailbox (private co, not P.O. box, as independent co’s are more “ethically malleable”)? Note that this is most likely illegal, but homeless people do it all the time…

EDIT: The more I think about it, she’ll be on “T-Plates”* for at least 90 days…by which time she’ll be in IL. I did the opposite–bought a car in IL and drove it to PA–but I just went plateless, with the hope that my PA DL, combined with a day-old bill of sale, would dissuade any would-be ticketor (never found out).

*“T-plates” from back in the day where on drove with a “T” sticker on one’s plate showing they were operating on a temporary registration. Nowadays, one gets a piece of paper to hang in one’s rear window, with a date 90 days from sale…have to have a dated sticker on your plate by then.

After she is settled in Illinois, at some point, she will have to get both an Illinois drivers license and car tags…How quickly she does that is pretty much up to her…If she gets a traffic ticket, the 30 day clock starts running. Maybe you can get a 30 day permit in PA, long enough to transport the car to Illinois.

She will almost certainly have to pay taxes in every state she registers

No true…at least for Sales tax.

If she paid a sales tax in PA then there won’t be a sales tax in Ill (IF YOU HAVE A CERTIFIED RECEIPT).

The EASIEST thing to do is buy the car in PA…then get a 20-day temp tag. This will be good until she moves to Illinois. Once there then she should register the car. You DON’T pay any sales tax UNTIL you register the car…which in this case will be Illinois.