Pennsylvania and New York share a 225.86-mile border, with the counties that surround the east-west line being collectively known as the Twin Tiers.
If you live on the New York side of these Twin Tiers (or even if you do not) it can be worth buying your next car in Pennsylvania instead of New York. Buying in Pennsylvania has some notable advantages over buying over New York, including a more robust supply of new and used vehicles, and generally lower prices on used cars.
If you do decide to make this decision, congratulations. There are a few hoops to jump through depending on who you plan to buy the car from, but with an hour or two or preperation, you can handle it.
This guide will walk you through all the steps needed to make sure your new car purchase is handled correctly.
So let’s jump in.
Here’s What You Need To Know Before You Buy
Here’s the thing: if you are considering buying in Pennsylvania because of a perceived difference in price on a new car, it’s most likely just your mind playing tricks on you.
“I think it’s all in perception,” said Leo Kaytes Jr., co-owner of Leo Kaytes Ford in Warwick. “We all pay the same price for the car, so if a dealer says he’s going to sell it to you for thousands of dollars less, there’s something going on.”
Even then, the documentation fee (which can be as high as $599 in some states) is capped at $75 in New York. In Pennsylvania? Until 2020, it was capped at $114, however new legislation has allowed these prices to rise in accordance with the consumer price index, which can mean an increase of up to 200%.
Again, this only comes out to a $200-$300 dollar difference (plus the doccumentation fee is negociable).
So it’s fair to say that buying a car in New York is going to be about the same as buying a car in Pennslyvania at least in terms of cost.
Used cars on the other hand, tend to be slightly cheaper in Pennsylvania, due to an increased supply.
At the end of the day when people ask us “is it better to buy a car in new york or pennsylvania?” we usually tell them it’s a wash. Get the car you want, wherever it’s located. You’re not going to save all that much by buying in PA, even if you opt for a used car.
You Will Pay Sales Tax In New York, Not Pennsylvania
The New York State has a 4 percent sales tax rate, which applies to the sale of cars within the state. In addition to the statewide sales tax, cities and counties in New York have the option of levying local tax rates to the sale price of your new car.
For example you can expect to pay an extra 4.5% sales tax if you live in New York City, bringing your total sales tax up to 8.5%.
These taxes must be paid on the vehicle before registration is completed.
Okay, now that we have gotten the minor details out of the way, let’s get into the meat of the issue.
How To Buy A Car In PA When You Live In NY
There are 3 primary ways you can buy a car in PA when you live in NY. They are:
- Through a dealer (most common)
- Through a private party sale
- Through an auto auction.
The process is slightly different for each, so we will go into detail.
1: Buying Through A Dealer (Most Common)
If you buy your car from a licensed dealer, you don’t have that much to worry about. The dealer will handle the paperwork for you and will issue you a temporary tag which is usually good for 30 days. The dealer will assess you sales tax in line with what you should expect to pay in New York State.
Make sure you save a copy of the invoice because it can come in handy later.
Once you get back to New York State, you will have 30 days to apply for a New York Title, Plates, and Registration. Ideally you will want to handle this as soon as possible.
Transferring Your Car Title From Pennslyvania To New York
Once you are back in New York, use the document guide here to figure out what you will need to bring in order to register your car (and transfer the title) to New York.
Generally speaking, this means you will need:
- a completed Application for Vehicle Registration (PDF) (MV-82)
- a completed Statement of Transaction – Sale or Gift of a Motor Vehicle, Trailer, All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV), Vessel (Boat), or Snowmobile (PDF) (DTF-802) 1
- your New York State License/Non-Driver ID (must be current or not expired for more than 2 years) or other acceptable proof for New York State vehicle registrations or title certificates. If you are not registering the vehicle or trailer in person at a DMV office, you must submit a photocopy of your proof of identity – do not include the original.
- Bill of sale and proof of sales tax payment/sales tax form 2
- Original title (or other proof of ownership) – see acceptable proofs of ownership
- Payment of fees and taxes or proof of an exemption
- The current NY State Insurance ID card (auto liability insurance) – see NY State Insurance Requirements
2: Buying Through A Private Party
The process for buying a car through a private party and then registering it in New York is more or less the same as the above, but you will need to do a bit more leg work.
The biggest problem is getting the car back to New York State. You will have a few options:
Get A Set Of Temporary Tags In PA
In our opinion, the best way to get your car back to New York is by getting a set of temporary tags from the PA DMV. This will require some prior planning if time is an issue. To get temporary tags in PA, you will need:
- Pennsylvania wants all seller signatures to be notarized, and that means sellers must be present with their valid PA Drivers license or PA Photo ID so we can notarize their signature OR it must be properly notarized before coming into our office.
- Valid out of State Drivers License or valid out of State Photo ID.
- Current automobile insurance card or declarations page.
*It is very important that the buyers name is listed on the current out of State insurance ID card, otherwise we must have a copy of car insurance declaration pages showing buyers name as a listed driver on the policy with address displayed.
The original PA Title will be returned to the buyer so that the buyer can complete the processing with their resident State Department of Motor Vehicles. These transactions are usually completed online and the transaction is completed in real-time.
Once you have your temporary tags, you can drive back to New York. Then, follow the process above for transferring your car title to New York.
Get It Towed Back To New York
If you are buying a car right over the border, this can be an option. Otherwise we would not reccomend it because towing long distances can be pricy!
If you do decide to go this route, have the car towed back to your house and then apply for your temporary plates at the NY DMV closest to you.
Use Valid Plates From Another Vehicle (Not Reccomended, Is Technically Not Legal)
Please note, we are not endorsing this method as it is illegal. We are only mentioning it because we know that many people opt for this even considering the risks.
Again, use this at your own risk.
Grabbing the plates from another vehicle will allow you to appear to be registered correctly, which you can use to quickly drive back to your place of residence. This method does have risks. If you get pulled over or get into an accident, there could be legal ramifications which is why we do not advise doing this.
3: Buying Through An Auction
Depending on the auction you buy your car through, the auction will likely perform most of the paperwork for you, as well as issuing you a temporary tag which you can use to drive the vehicle home.
If they do not issue you a temp tag, follow the steps listed above to get one, and then the titling proceedure once you get back to New York State.
Make Sure You Protect Your Car With A Vehicle Service Plan
Buying a new or used car is already stressful enough, not to mention getting it between states. Once you’ve done all the paperwork and paid thousands of dollars for your new vehicle, the last thing you need is for it to break down.
Because when it does break down, you could be on the hook for a big repair bill that can keep you from getting where you need to go, whether that’s to work, to drop your kids off at school, or to otherwise enjoy your life.
That’s where a vehicle service contract from Protect My Car comes in.
A vehicle service contract provides the same great benefits as your car’s manufacturer warranty after it expires. That means coverage for the expensive mechanical parts of your car that can break down, plus 24/7 roadside assistance, and free oil changes and tire rotations.
That’s not to mention a vehicle service contract from Protect My Car also pays for your rental car, hotels/meals, AND gives you up to $150 a month in rewards at your favorite stores and restaurants.
If you are interested to see how easy it can be to protect your car, just fill out the form below to get started. Protect your investment with Protect My Car today. Don’t wait until it breaks down, because by then, it will be too late.