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Certificate of Title for a Motor Vehicle
Self Help - Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas

This is the procedure you must follow when you wish to obtain a certificate of title to a motor vehicle. A key part of this procedure is to notify the last known owner and any bank, company or person that holds a lien ("lienholder") on the vehicle before the title can be awarded to you.

The form links below are available in PDF or Word format. There is no difference in the content of the forms, you may choose the format you prefer to work in.

State and Local Court Rules Must Be Followed.

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We recommend that you use the printable checklist.

General Instructions To Parties With No Lawyer

There are complex rules of law that everyone who comes to court must follow. You must follow these rules even though you are not a lawyer because the rules exist to provide an orderly process to reach a fair conclusion. Click here

Section 1 - Last known vehicle owner

If you do not know the name and address of the vehicle's owner and any lienholder you must complete Step 1 and Step 2 in Section 1.

If you have the vehicle owner's information proceed to Section 2 - Petition for Certificate of Title.

Step 1. Motor vehicle's owner record
  • To obtain a certified copy of the motor vehicle's owner record complete form DL-135
  • Follow PennDot's instructions page 2 of the DL-135 form
Step 2. Response from PennDOT

You will receive a response from PennDOT.

  • If the information you receive does not provide the name of a person with an interest in the motor vehicle, then you must obtain the history of the vehicle from a commercial source.
  • If the information you receive includes the name of a lienholder that still may be owed money on a loan, you must:
    • Serve that lienholder: with the Petition for Certificate of Title and the Scheduling Order as indicated in Section 3.
    • OR
    • Obtain the lienholder's written, signed and notarized approval to have the title awarded to you and take the original approval to your hearing.
Section 2 - Petition for Certificate of Title
Step 1. Form Preparation
  • Complete the following form and print (1) copy. Do not print on both sides of the paper.
    • Petition for Certificate of Title form pdf | MS Word
Section 3 - Lehigh County Courthouse
  • Take the following items with you to the Lehigh County Courthouse located at 455 West Hamilton Street Allentown, PA:
    • Completed Petition for Certificate of Title
    • Any documentation proving ownership of vehicle
    • Any documentation from PennDOT
    • Any Vehicle History documentation obtained from a commercial source
    • Cash or Credit/Debit Card to cover filing fees; no personal checks will be accepted. For filing fees see Civil fee Schedule
Step 1. Requesting a Hearing from Court Administration

Go to the Office of Court Administration located in Room 614 of the Lehigh County Courthouse:

  • Give the Petition for Certificate of Title and any documentation proving ownership to an employee of the Office of Court Administration. They will prepare an order scheduling a hearing ("Scheduling Order") and give you that order to e-file with your petition.
Step 2. Filing - Clerk of Judicial Records

Go to the Clerk of Judicial Records located in Room 122 of Lehigh County Courthouse:

  • Give all paperwork to the Clerk and pay for all filing fees.
  • Proceed to Kiosk to e-file original document. (Clerk’s office will provide assistance)
  • Print the necessary amount of copies needed to serve all interested parties.
    • One (1) copy for your records.
    • One (1) copy is to be mailed to the last known address of the last known owner by certified mail, return receipt requested, restricted delivery.
    • One (1) copy each to any bank, company or person that holds a lien on the motor vehicle ("Lienholder"), by certified mail, return receipt requested, restricted delivery.
Section 4 - Serving

Manner of Service

To use these self-help forms, the manner of service must be Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, Restricted Delivery.

Step 1. Preparing for service
  • Address one (1) envelope to each interested party.
  • Put the following in each of the addressed envelope:
    • One (1) time-stamped printed copy from Kiosk of the Petition for Certificate of Title
    • One (1) time-stamped printed copy from Kiosk of the Scheduling Order
Step 2. Going to the Post Office
  • Take your printable Checklist that contains instructions on how to send Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, Restricted Delivery.
  • Take addressed envelopes containing the copy of the Petition for Certificate of Title and the Scheduling Order.
  • Take money for postage.
Step 3. Completing Domestic Return Receipt (green post card form 3811)
  • Obtain Domestic Return Receipts from the post office. One (1) for each addressed envelope.
  • Complete according to instructions on your printable checklist.
Step 4. Wait for green card form 3811 to be returned to you
  • If any of your certified mailings are returned as "unclaimed", proceed to Section 5.
  • If your certified mailings are returned as "claimed", proceed to Section 6.
Section 5 - Unclaimed Certified Mail - Notice of Publication

Because your certified mailing was returned as unclaimed you now must publish a Notice. 

Step 1. Legal Journal Advertising
  • Advertise a legal notice with proof of publication at least one (1) time in the legal journal of the county of the last known address for the last known owner and any lienholder.
    • Notice must contain the following information:
      • a specific description of the motor vehicle (year, make, model and Vehicle Identification Number);
      • the fact that the proceeding has commenced in the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County; and
      • the date, time, place (include the specific courtroom) of the hearing set forth in the Scheduling Order.
Step 2. Newspaper Advertising
  • Advertise a legal notice with proof of publication at least one (1) time per week for three(3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation where any person known to claim an interest in the motor vehicle may be located and where the motor vehicle is located.
    • Notice must contain the following information:
      • a specific description of the motor vehicle (year, make, model and Vehicle Identification Number);
      • the fact that the proceeding has commenced in the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County; and
      • the date, time, place (include the specific courtroom) of the hearing set forth in the Scheduling Order.
Section 6 - Hearing
  • Dress appropriately. The Court recommends that you dress as if you were attending a formal interview.
  • Arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled hearing.
  • Take your copy of the Petition and the following items with you to the Courthouse:
    • All returned "claimed" green post cards (Domestic Return Receipt Form 3811) from the last known owner and Lienholder.
    • If any green post card (Domestic Return Receipt Form 3811) certified mail return receipt cards are returned "unclaimed", provide copies of the notice and Proof of Publication from all advertising sources.
    • Any original signed and notarized written approval from the lienholder to have the title awarded to you.
  • Check in with Court Staff at assigned Courtroom.
  • When your case is called, present the Court with the documents listed above.
Section 7 - Court Order
  • If the Court grants your Petition, it will enter an Order.
  • Once the Order is filed, you will need to purchase a certified copy from the Clerk of Judicial Records located in Room 122 of Lehigh County Courthouse.
  • Complete MV-217 form.
  • Attach Court Order to form MV-217 and submit to PennDOT.

We recommend that you use the printable checklist.

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Disclaimer
The forms and instructions that are available from this website are not a substitute for professional legal advice. Court employees cannot give you legal advice or help you fill out /complete the forms. It is your responsibility to read and complete the forms and to take required steps to file and serve the documents. If you decide to use these forms in an actual action, be prepared to spend appropriate time gathering information, completing forms and following the Rules of Court. The Court assumes no responsibility for the use of these forms and accepts no liability for actions taken by using these documents, including reliance on the instructions and/or contents. To obtain legal advice and to insure the proper use of this material, you should contact a lawyer.

If you want to obtain the service of an attorney, but do not know whom to contact, you should visit the Lehigh Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service website.

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