The Georgia Department of Drivers Services is responsible for administering and overseeing the state's vehicle licensing regulations and vehicle registration records. The Motor Vehicle Division within the Georgia Department of Revenue is responsible for administering the vehicle titling requirements for personal property tax purposes. According to Georgia law, residents can use a bill of sale to transfer vehicle ownership but may not use it to obtain an original title.
Under Georgia law, residents cannot use a bill of sale to obtain a Georgia title unless their vehicles fall within Georgia's titling exceptions. Georgia law requires that certain residents obtain a title for their vehicles, depending on the type of vehicles they purchase or receive as gifts. The Georgia Department of Revenue uses the titling information to assess ad valorem or personal property taxes on residents. An individual's property tax liability depends on the number and types of vehicles she owns.
Georgia residents are required to obtain a vehicle title for property tax purposes within 30 days of purchasing a new vehicle or transferring ownership from an existing owner to a buyer. Georgia law places a legal duty upon a buyer to transfer ownership of the vehicle and register it, if required by law. The division assesses a $10 penalty fee for failure to register a vehicle pursuant to Georgia law within the 30-day period. The Georgia Department of Revenue requires residents obtain a title before registering their vehicles if their vehicles were manufactured after 1985. Although some vehicle owners are not required to obtain a Georgia title -- including owners of boats, boat trailers, airplanes, travel trailers and tow dollies that weigh less than one ton -- they may voluntarily title their vehicles.
Permissible Title Laws
For owners who are not required to title their vehicles, a bill of sale is sufficient to obtain a title from the Georgia Department of Revenue. However, for vehicle owners or car buyers who are required to obtain a title, they cannot use their bill of sale to transfer ownership. In this case, the vehicle owner can only obtain title only after producing the original title from the previous owner transferring ownership. For new car purchases, vehicle buyers must produce the vehicle dealer's original title or obtain a replacement title from the Georgia Motor Vehicle Division.
Acceptable Bill of Sale
Taxpayers who are not obligated to obtain a title can voluntarily obtain a title using their bill of sale documents. The Georgia Department of Revenue only accepts bill of sale documents with certain information included in them. As such, the Department of Revenue offers a free downloadable sample bill of sale form that qualifies as an acceptable proof of ownership when transferring title. A bill of sale must include the sale date, the names of buyer and seller, the odometer reading at the time of sale, the vehicle identification number and description of the vehicle, signatures of buyer and seller, and applicable lien information.
Since tax laws can frequently change, do not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in Georgia.
Jill Stimson has worked in various property management positions in Maryland and Delaware. Stimson worked for the top three property management companies in the commercial industry and focuses her career on property building logistics and tenant relationships. She holds a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Science in psychology.