For military members, renewing licenses and registrations can be downright impossible, particularly if you’re stationed outside of Pennsylvania, or even outside the country. Thankfully, the state makes things relatively simple for active duty military members and their families. There are also some perks offered to the state’s veterans.
License and registration tax and fee exemptions
There are a couple of exemptions offered in the state of Pennsylvania, but they primarily apply to active duty service men and women, as well as their immediate family if they’re stationed outside the state and live within the same household.
The most important benefit here is that you don’t have to worry about renewing your license as long as you’re stationed out of state. Pennsylvania waives the required renewal, although you may renew your license every four years if you want to do so. In this instance, you’ll just need to mail back the letter the DOT sends you, and then the camera card they send on receipt of your reply. Note that this applies to all immediate family members living in the same household, as well, so military spouses and children of driving age are also covered.
The state also offers an exemption from emissions testing if your car stays registered in the state while you are stationed outside of Pennsylvania. With that being said, the state does NOT waive the annual registration fee. However, they do make it possible to register your car (and pay for the registration) online, so you can do this from anywhere around the world with Internet access. You can register your car online here.
Driver’s license veteran designation
As of 2012, the state of Pennsylvania offers veterans the opportunity to have their status and past service noted on their driver’s license. The veteran designation takes the form of an American flag above the word “Veteran”. To apply for this designation, you must be a qualifying veteran (you must have an honorable discharge) and proof of your service. The state accepts the DD-214 form, as well as several others, including:
- NGB Form 22
- Federal VA medical ID card
- Retired military ID
Note that there is no fee for the designation, but you will need to pay the associated fees for issuing the license (either a duplication fee or a new license fee, depending on your situation). To apply for the designation, you need to check the “veteran” box on the driver’s license application and provide proof for the DOT.
Military honor plates
Pennsylvania offers a very wide range of military honor license plates that veterans can purchase to display on their cars. These range from conflict specific plates to medal and award recipient specific plates. Each plate comes with its own eligibility requirements. For instance, to obtain the Combat Action Ribbon plate, you must have been awarded the Combat Action Ribbon and provide proof. In addition, each plate has a separate form that must be completed and supplied during the registration process, and each has its own costs. You can find a full list of all military honor plates, as well as links to each plate’s specific form here.
Note that Pennsylvania also offers the Honoring Our Veterans plate series, which is different. These plates can be purchased by any resident of the state during vehicle registration, not just veterans, and a portion of the sales goes to support veteran-specific benefits programs.
Military skills test waiver
Like most other states in the country, Pennsylvania offers current military and reserve members the chance to have the skills test waived when applying for their CDL. This also applies to those who have been recently honorably discharged. All applicants must have at least two years of experience operating military equipment, and must complete Form DL-398 as well as the standard state CDL license application. Note that the same fees apply to military members, and the waiver only allows you to skip the skills test. You’ll still need to take the knowledge test.
Driver license renewal while deployed
The state of Pennsylvania does not require you to renew your license if you are deployed outside of the state. This is an indefinite extension, although you will have 45 days to renew your license when you return. The same applies to your emissions testing, although you’ll only have 10 days to have your vehicle tested when you return to the state. Note that this does not apply to your car’s registration, which must still be renewed each year.
Non-resident military personnel driver license and vehicle registration
Pennsylvania does not require military members from out of state to register their cars or obtain a state-issued driver’s license. However, you will need to pass emissions testing. You will also need to ensure you have a valid license and registration from your home state.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in Pennsylvania and was authored by Valerie Johnston.