PAA: 2019 Documentary Fees Increase

Jan 21, 2019 | Member News

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) was announced on January 11, 2019, increasing the maximum documentary fee from $118 to $120 for processing titlework manually (from $141 to $144 if dealers perform on-line registrations with an on-line provider (such as Cox/Dealertrack). The increase is effective immediately.

The documentary fee:

•             is non-taxable;

•             may be excluded from a dealer’s advertised price for the sale of a vehicle;

•             is a negotiable item, so the actual dollar amount may not be pre-printed on the buyer’s order;

•             is a dealer-imposed charge, not a state-mandated fee; and

•             must be disclosed on a sign in the dealership.


The documentary fee is currently adjusted annually in accordance with the Federal Consumer Price Index.

If a dealership’s documentary fee exceeds the permissible charge, the Attorney General’s Office may consider it to be deceptive, as to what services are being performed, and may find it subject to enforcement action.

“Online Dealer Fee” Clarification Before 2009, when the Documentary Fee was statutorily provided for in law, dealers performing on-line registrations had three separate fees itemized on their buyer’s order: 1.) the documentary fee, 2.) the on-line registration fee, and 3.) the on-line dealer fee (in addition to other applicable fees). 

The on-line registration fee is the actual fee charged by the provider (i.e. Cox/Dealertrack) for services and can be passed on to the customer. It cannot be marked-up.

The online dealer fee was, prior to 2009, a market driven fee for the dealership’s processing of the online transaction.  When the Documentary Fee was provided for in law, dealers who perform online registrations became able to charge the higher documentary fee amount, which encompasses the online dealer fee. Dealers should no longer itemize and charge an “Online Dealer Fee”.

Messenger Fees

Messenger fees can also be charged if a messenger service is used to process the titlework. The amount is the actual cost charged by the messenger service. This fee cannot be marked-up. It must be passed directly through to the customer, and it must be separately itemized.

Please update the information posted

in your dealership as needed.

Occasionally, financial institutions will require a dealership to submit proof in writing of the documentary fee increase.  The state franchise law permitting an annual adjustment based on the CPI can be found at Or information is available through the Department of State at: For calculation information, contact Melanie Stine, Pennsylvania Automotive Association, [email protected].


Source: Pennsylvania Automotive Association