Certificate of Title
The Certificate of Title is an important legal document that conveys ownership of a motor vehicle and also serves to protect the interest of lienholders. Most vehicles model year 1986 and newer must be titled in Georgia. When a title is required (see later discussion of cases when a title is not required), a vehicle cannot be registered (tagged) until a title application has been processed. In most cases, titling is the first for the new resident or for a new owner. Georgia law requires you to register your vehicle within 30 days of purchase date or date you moved to Georgia, so you need to apply for a Georgia title in time to meet that deadline.
Certificates of Title are issued by the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicle Safety (DMVS). The Tax Commissioner is an agent of the DMVS Commissioner for the purpose of accepting title applications from Habersham County residents.
Although it takes about two weeks to receive a title after application is submitted to the state, you can tag a vehicle after you apply for a title; it is not necessary to wait until the title document is received.
The following vehicles do not require a title in Georgia:
- 1962 and prior year model vehicles
- Boats and trailers
- Home made trailers
- Vehicles owned by out-of-state residents with the following exceptions:
- Vehicles obtained through inheritance and repossessions with a Georgia title on record
- Vehicles owned by out-of-state residents that are based in Georgia and used routinely as a personal or business vehicle
- Off-road vehicles (example: ATV-All Terrain Vehicles.)
- Self-propelled wheelchairs or invalid tricycles
- Utility trailers with an unladen gross weight of 2,000 pounds or less; this does not apply to a travel trailer or camper, regardless of its unladen gross weight, unless it is model year 1985 or older
- A vehicle that is other than a mobile home or crane, the model year of which is prior to 1986; mobile homes and cranes must continue to be titled unless the year model of the vehicle is prior to 1963
The Tag Office will assist you in making sure the legal document is properly and accurately filled out. Be careful and follow instructions. Do not make any marks on the face of the title. On the reverse, the seller(s) should sign the name(s) shown on the face. The buyer should sign in the same way the new title is to be issued, which should agree with the name on the driver's license. Beware that the mileage figure cannot be altered. Do not include tenths, only whole miles. Everything else can be handled at the Tag Office by the buyer.
What to bring to apply for a title in your name:
- Existing title, if required (see above), in the seller's name assigned to you on the reverse. (1986 model or newer)
- Bill of sale if a title is not required. (1985 model or older)
- Complete name and street address of the lienholder if the title is held by the lienholder
- Lien release from seller's lienholder (may be signed off on the title, or a letter from lienholder will suffice with vehicle identification stated in the letter)
- If the vehicle will be jointly owned, both parties must sign the title application, or provide a notarized Power of Attorney
- Copy of driver's license for owner(s)
If you purchase from an automobile dealer, the dealer will apply for a Georgia title in your name. He will give you a receipt showing that the $18 title fee has been paid. Registration (tagging) is the next step. Either you or your dealer must come in to register your new car. Don't assume the paperwork is done just because the dealer puts your old tag on the new car. Ask about the title and the registration. If taxes are not due, the dealer may transfer your tag for which there is a fee of $5. Be sure this is handled properly.