2020 Georgia Code
Title 52 - Waters of the State, Ports, and Watercraft
Chapter 7 - Registration, Operation, and Sale of Watercraft
Article 1 - General Provisions
§ 52-7-5. Numbering of Vessels; Requirements; Fees

Universal Citation: GA Code § 52-7-5 (2020)
  1. The owner of each vessel required to be numbered by this article shall file an application for a certificate of number with the department on forms containing such information required by the department. Upon receipt of the completed application and any other required information and documents, the department shall enter the application upon its records and issue to the applicant a certificate of number stating the number assigned to the vessel, the name and address of the owner, and such additional information as may be prescribed by the department.The department shall maintain electronic records of title and furnish a physical certificate of title to the owner or lienholder upon request.
    1. The identification number assigned to all registered vessels, except those documented by the United States Coast Guard, shall be permanently painted on or attached to each side of the forward half of the vessel, and no other number may be displayed thereon.Numbers shall read from left to right, be in block characters, be of a color contrasting with the background, and be not less than three inches in height nor more than one inch apart.There shall be a hyphen or space between the prefix letters and numerals and between the numerals and the suffix letters.The hyphen or space shall be equal to the width of any letter except I.
    2. On vessels so configured that a number on the hull or superstructure would not be easily visible, the number shall be painted on or attached to a backing plate that is attached to the forward half of the vessel so that the number will be clearly visible under normal operating conditions.
    3. The numbers shall be maintained in a legible condition.
    4. Vessels owned by manufacturers or dealers and being used as demonstrators or for testing on state waters may use the dealer's tag supplied with his or her registration in lieu of a permanently attached number.Such vessels owned by manufacturers and dealers and only used as demonstrators or for testing using a dealer's tag shall not be required to be titled.
  2. Expiration decals shall be assigned by the department to all registered vessels.Such decals shall be displayed one on each side of the bow preceding the prefix letters and maintained in legible condition.There shall be a hyphen or space separating each decal and the prefix letters which shall be equal to the width of any letter except I.

    After July 1, 2017, the General Assembly shall not increase the cost of any fee provided for in this subsection by more than 20 percent.

    1. The vessel is documented under the laws of the United States;
    2. The certificate of number or title becomes invalid because it is determined that a false or fraudulent statement was made in the application or the fees have not been paid; or
    3. The vessel is no longer used in this state.

(d) Applications shall be signed by the owner or owners of the vessel and shall be accompanied by the proper fee. Fees for numbering vessels for a registration period of three years shall be as follows:

(1) Vessels up to 16 feet in length ..........................$25.00 (2) Vessels 16 to 26 feet in length ...........................60.00 (3) Vessels 26 to 40 feet in length ..........................130.00 (4) Vessels 40 feet in length or longer ......................200.00

(1)Registration for vessels shall expire on the last day of the month of the owner's birth in the last year of the registration period and shall thereafter be of no force or effect unless renewed pursuant to this article; provided, however, that the registration for vessels not owned by individuals shall expire on December 31 of the last year of the registration period.Certificates of number may be renewed by the owner in the same manner provided for in the initial securing of such certificates.

Registrations may be renewed any time after October 1 prior to the year of expiration.If the certificate of number is allowed to expire, a renewal application may still be filed with the department so long as the applicant pays the registration fee prescribed in subsection (d) of this Code section along with a $10.00 late fee.

Any application which, due to failure of the applicant to provide additional information required by the department, remains incomplete 60 days after initial receipt of such application shall expire, and a new application and registration or title fee shall be required.

Should the ownership of a numbered or titled vessel change while a valid registration or title is in effect, the new owner shall file with the department a new application and pay the prescribed fee for a new registration or title.The number assigned upon transfer of ownership shall be identical to the previous number unless such number has been reassigned by the department during any expired registration or title period.

In the event that an agency of the United States government shall have in force an overall system of identification (numbering) for vessels within the United States, the numbering system employed pursuant to this article by the department shall be in conformity therewith. The provisions for titling employed pursuant to this article by the department shall be in conformity for approval by the United States Coast Guard under provisions of 46 U.S.C. Section 31322(d)(1).

The department may issue any certificate of number, expiration decal, marine toilet certification, title, or other permit or accept applications for registration or titling provided for in this chapter directly or may authorize any person to act as agent for the issuing or collection and maintenance of information thereof. In the event that a person accepts such authorization to issue certificates of title or number, he or she may be allotted a block of numbers and certificates or provided direction and instruction therefor which, upon assignment and issue in conformity with this article and with any rules and regulations of the department, shall be valid as if assigned and issued directly by the department.Any person acting as agent for the department may charge a fee for his or her services in an amount approved by the department not to exceed $10.00 per transaction.

All records of the department made or kept pursuant to this Code section shall be public records.

The owner shall furnish the department notice of the transfer of all or of any part of his or her interest, other than the creation of a security interest, in a vessel numbered in this state pursuant to this Code section, the theft or recovery of the vessel, or the destruction or abandonment of the vessel within 15 days thereof, in a manner specified by the department.

Any holder of a certificate of number or title shall notify the department in writing within 30 days if his or her address no longer conforms to the address appearing on the certificate or title and shall, as a part of such notification, furnish the department with his or her new address.

No number other than the number validly assigned to a vessel shall be painted, attached, or otherwise displayed on either side of the forward half of the vessel.

(1)A certificate of number or title once issued pursuant to this Code section shall be considered void upon the happening of any one of the following events:

The owner transfers all his or her interest in said vessel to another person or involuntarily loses his or her interest through legal process;

The vessel is destroyed or abandoned;

It is discovered by the department that the application submitted by the owner contains false or fraudulent information;

The fees for issuance are not paid by the applicant; or

The state of principal use is changed.

A void certificate or title shall be surrendered to the department within 15 days from the date that it becomes or is declared to be void.

The number placed on the forward half of the vessel by the owner shall be removed by the owner if:

The board shall be authorized to establish, by rule or regulation, a procedure to refund fees collected pursuant to this chapter which were collected in error or overpayment or to which the department or state is otherwise not entitled.

(Ga. L. 1960, p. 235, §§ 6, 7; Ga. L. 1965, p. 251, § 1; Ga. L. 1968, p. 487, §§ 3-6; Ga. L. 1973, p. 1427, § 6; Ga. L. 1976, p. 1632, §§ 5-7; Ga. L. 1977, p. 1182, §§ 2, 3; Ga. L. 1980, p. 738, §§ 2-4; Ga. L. 1981, p. 147, §§ 1-3; Ga. L. 1982, p. 3, § 52; Ga. L. 1987, p. 567, §§ 3, 4; Ga. L. 1992, p. 6, § 52; Ga. L. 1992, p. 470, § 3; Ga. L. 1992, p. 998, § 2; Ga. L. 1993, p. 351, § 1; Ga. L. 1996, p. 1276, § 1; Ga. L. 2011, p. 558, § 5/SB 121; Ga. L. 2013, p. 892, § 1/HB 497; Ga. L. 2017, p. 27, § 19/HB 208; Ga. L. 2019, p. 755, § 4/HB 314.)

The 2011 amendment, effective July 1, 2011, added subsection (o).

The 2013 amendment, effective July 1, 2013, rewrote this Code section.

The 2017 amendment, effective July 1, 2017, in subsection (d), substituted "$25.00" for "$15.00" in paragraph (d)(1), substituted "60.00" for "36.00" in paragraph (d)(2), substituted "130.00" for "90.00" in paragraph (d)(3), substituted "200.00" for "150.00" in paragraph (d)(4), and added the ending undesignated paragraph; in paragraph (e)(3), deleted "for renewal" following "Any application" at the beginning and following "be required" at the end, and added a comma following "shall expire"; in subsection (j), deleted "written" following "department" near the beginning, and added ", in a manner specified by the department" at the end. See Editor's notes for applicability.

The 2019 amendment, effective July 1, 2020, inserted "or title" in paragraph (e)(3), throughout subsections (f) and (k), and in paragraphs (m)(1), (m)(2), and (n)(2); in subsection (a), inserted "a certificate of" in the middle of the first sentence and added the third sentence; inserted "on" in the middle of the first sentence of paragraph (b)(1); in paragraph (b)(4), inserted "on state waters" in the middle of the first sentence and added the second sentence; inserted "or titled" near the beginning of subsection (f); added the second sentence in subsection (g); in subsection (h), in the first sentence, inserted "title," near the middle, inserted "or accept applications for registration or titling" in the middle, and inserted "or collection and maintenance of information" near the end, and, in the middle of the second sentence, inserted "title or" and inserted "or provided direction and instruction"; substituted "30" for "15" preceding "days" in the middle of subsection (k); and substituted "certificate of number or title" for "certificate or number" near the beginning of paragraph (n)(2).

Cross references.

- Identification numbers and letters for commercial fishing boats, § 27-4-117.

Identification numbers and letters on boats used for taking shrimp, § 27-4-133.

Editor's notes.

- Ga. L. 1992, p. 470, §§ 4 and 5, not codified by the General Assembly, provide: "The General Assembly declares its intent to use the increases and changes in fees provided in this Act to fund the acquisition and management of lands and waters, by and through the Department of Natural Resources, for fish hatcheries; for wildlife restoration, propagation, protection, preservation, research, or management; for public hunting, fishing, or trapping; and for related recreational areas. The General Assembly further recognizes the importance of wildlife related recreation and the need to provide greater opportunities for such recreation and public lands in the face of rapid woodland development and appropriation of existing wildlife habitat. The General Assembly further declares its intent to ensure that the funding provided by hunters and fishermen through the payment of these license fee increases and changes will fund the acquisition of fish and wildlife habitat and public recreational areas.

"This Act shall become effective on April 1, 1992, or as soon thereafter as it is approved by the Governor or becomes law without such approval; provided, however, that the fees which are increased in Sections 1 and 3 of this Act shall on March 31, 2012, be reduced to the level of such fees prior to the effective date of this Act."

Ga. L. 2009, p. 787, § 10, eliminated the automatic reduction of rates provided by Ga. L. 1992, p. 470, § 5.

Ga. L. 2017, p. 27, § 20/HB 208, not codified by the General Assembly, provides, in part, that the amendment of this Code section shall apply to all offenses occurring on or after July 1, 2017.

Ga. L. 2019, p. 755, § 1/HB 314, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that: "This Act shall be known and may be cited as the 'Georgia Uniform Certificate of Title for Vessels Act.'"

Ga. L. 2019, p. 755, § 2/HB 314, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that: "The General Assembly finds that:

"(1) Titles for vessels in this state would deter and impede theft;

"(2) Titles for vessels in this state would facilitate the ownership, transfer, and financing of such vessels; and

"(3) Titling of vessels would create equity and fairness for the selling of vessels by dealers, brokers, agents, private parties, and manufacturers."


When does change of ownership occur.

- In a boat buyer's suit alleging negligence by defendants, a marina, a boat yard, and the seller of the boat, the seller's claim that the buyer was the owner of the boat at the time of the incident in question because the buyer had paid more than half of the purchase price was not supported by O.C.G.A. § 52-7-5(a) since the boat was registered in the seller's name at the time of the incident and § 52-7-5(a) did not speak to when ownership occurred. Muhs v. River Rats, Inc., 586 F. Supp. 2d 1364 (S.D. Ga. 2008).


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 12 Am. Jur. 2d, Boats and Boating, §§ 19, 21, 22.

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