The owner of a car must have a title to it in their name. When you buy from a dealership in Georgia, the dealer will handle this process (and the bank will hold the title if you’re not paying the car off). However, if you’re buying a car from a private seller, then you’ll need to take the right steps to transfer the title into your name. This also applies if you’re receiving a car as a gift, or if you’re inheriting a vehicle from a family member who has passed away.
For buyers in Georgia, the process of transferring a title is pretty straightforward. You’ll need to complete the following steps:
- Check that the title is complete. If it is blank, you cannot accept it. Georgia law prohibits this (both you and the seller will be in violation of the law).
- Make sure that the seller provides you with a lien release for any liens on the title.
- Sign the title to acknowledge the odometer reading unless the vehicle is exempt. Exemptions include:
- The vehicle is 10 years old or older.
- The vehicle weighs over 16,000 pounds.
- There are other exemptions but they do not apply to private buyers.
- Get insurance coverage on the car and provide proof of that coverage.
- Complete the Motor Vehicle Title/Tag Application.
- If you live in Fulton County or the 12 counties surrounding Fulton, you will need to have an emissions inspection completed and provide proof.
- Bring all this information, plus the title and the required fees to the DMV office. Fees include:
- $18 for the transfer fee
- $20 for the registration fee
- The ad valorem tax. The state of Georgia has a calculator that you can use to determine how much tax you will owe.
- Not getting a lien release from the seller
Like buyers, sellers in the state of Georgia have specific steps to complete in order to transfer a car title. They are as follows:
- Complete the back of the title, including all applicable fields. These include your name and address, the date of the sale and the odometer reading, unless the vehicle is exempt (see exemptions above).
- Print your name and sign the title.
- Provide the buyer with a lien release for each lien on the title.
- Provide a bill of sale (note that this is optional, but a good idea).
Gifted and inherited vehicles
The process for transferring a title for a gifted vehicle is the same as for buying one outright, and will require the same paperwork and fees. For inheriting a vehicle, the process is similar, but you will need to provide an Affidavit of Inheritance of a Motor Vehicle, as well as a copy of the Letters of Testamentary/Administration and a copy of the death certificate. If the will does not go through probate, you will need to provide a copy of that as well.
For more information about how to transfer a car title in Georgia, visit the state’s DOR website.