2021 Georgia Code
Title 40 - Motor Vehicles and Traffic
Chapter 3 - Certificates of Title, Security Interests, and Liens
Article 2 - Certificates of Title
§ 40-3-20. Certificate of Title Prerequisite to Registration; Documentation Required to Register a Vehicle Purchased Outside State

Universal Citation: GA Code § 40-3-20 (2021)
  1. Except as provided in Code Section 40-3-4, every owner of a vehicle which is required by law to be registered in this state and for which no certificate of title has been issued by the commissionermay make application to the commissioner or to the tag agent in the county wherein the owner resides for a certificate of title to the vehicle according to the model of the vehicle.If a vehicle is owned by and used in connection with an established business, application may be made to the commissioner or to the tag agent in the county in which the business is located.Such applicationshall be made in the following manner: All 1963 model vehicles and all successive model vehicles thereafter shall have a certificate of title. However, once a vehicle comes within the exclusion provided by paragraph (14) of Code Section 40-3-4, a certificate of title shall no longer be required.
  2. The commissioner may by rule or regulation exempt from the requirements of this chapter vehicles owned by nonresident individuals or corporations that are properly titled in the state of such owner's residence where the vehicle is required to be registered in this state because:
    1. Georgia has no reciprocity agreement on registration and licensing of motor vehicles with the owner's state; or
    2. The vehicle is used in both interstate and intrastate transportation.
  3. When the owner of a vehicle is required to have a certificate of title, the tag agent or the commissioner shall not register or renew the registration of such vehicle until a certificate of title has been issued or applied for.
  4. No application for a certificate of title for a vehicle purchased outside the State of Georgia shall be accepted or processed unless the applicant shows, by a valid bill of sale or contract of purchase or by such other documentation satisfactory to the commissioner, that state and local sales and use tax has been paid or is not due. If state and local sales and use tax is owed on such vehicle but has not been paid, the local tag agent shall return the unprocessed application to the applicant informing him or her of the requirements of this Code section.

(Ga. L. 1961, p. 68, § 6; Ga. L. 1962, p. 79, § 4; Ga. L. 1963, p. 32, § 1; Ga. L. 1964, p. 436, § 1; Ga. L. 1967, p. 451, § 1; Ga. L. 1981, p. 617, § 2; Ga. L. 1990, p. 2048, § 3; Ga. L. 2005, p. 1132, § 1/HB 364.)

Cross references.

- Filing to perfect security interests, generally, § 11-9-310.

Law reviews.

- For comment on Maley v. National Acceptance Co., 250 F. Supp. 841 (N.D. Ga. 1966), see 3 Ga. St. B.J. 248 (1966).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Security interest perfected only by filing under section.

- Only way to perfect a security interest in any automobile since the enactment of the Uniform Commercial Code (see now O.C.G.A. T. 11) is by filing under former Code 1933 § 68-406 (see now O.C.G.A. § 40-3-20.) Harper v. Avco Fin. Servs., Inc., 124 Ga. App. 6, 183 S.E.2d 89 (1971), but see In re Chappell, 224 Bankr. 507 (Bankr. M.D. Ga. 1998).

Retroactive validity of late- perfected security interest.

- Late-perfected security interest is not retroactively valid against an innocent third party who acquired the automobile for value. Harper v. Avco Fin. Servs., Inc., 124 Ga. App. 6, 183 S.E.2d 89 (1971), but see In re Chappell, 224 Bankr. 507 (Bankr. M.D. Ga. 1998).

Use of unregistered trade name.

- Use of an unregistered trade name as the owner's name does not defeat a creditor's search for, and the giving of notice to the world of, the existence of the bank's security interest and does not therefore invalidate the bank's security interest. In re Firth, 363 F. Supp. 369 (M.D. Ga. 1973).

Permanently attached mobile home.

- "Double-wide" mobile home unit which has become permanently attached to the land on which the mobile home is placed ceases to be a "vehicle" under the Motor Vehicle Certificate of Title Act, O.C.G.A. § 40-3-1 et seq., so that a security interest is obtained by recording a security deed to the land and the "improvements thereon" rather than placing a lien on the mobile home under the vehicle title act. Walker v. Washington, 837 F.2d 455 (11th Cir. 1988).

Because a Chapter 13 debtor's evidence as to the condition of a mobile home established that the wheels, axles, and tow tongue were still attached, that the home was not sited on a permanent foundation, and that the home could be removed without real damage either to the home or to the underlying realty, the home was not a fixture within the meaning of O.C.G.A. § 44-1-6(a), the presumption in O.C.G.A. § 40-3-20 that the mobile home was a vehicle was not rebutted, and a secured creditor's interest therein was not protected from modification by 11 U.S.C. § 1322(b)(2). INGOMAR, L.P. v. Collins (In re Collins), Bankr. (Bankr. S.D. Ga. Sept. 14, 2006).

Debtors' mobile home was no longer personal property but instead was a fixture to the realty based on evidence that the debtors removed the tongue device for hitching the mobile home, had placed a curtain around the base of the home, and had made improvements such as landscaping and a car port attached to the mobile home on the land. Although a mobile home is initially a vehicle and a lien interest must be noted on the title, once a mobile home becomes a fixture a security interest may be perfected under real estate law. Williamson v. Wash. Mut. Home Loans, Inc. (In re Williamson), 387 Bankr. 914 (Bankr. M.D. Ga. 2008).

Time delay does not exempt vehicle title requirement.

- Fact that the time for obtaining a certificate of title is delayed does not make a vehicle referred to as required to have a certificate of title one that is not required to have a certificate of title. Peoples, Inc. v. DeVane, 114 Ga. App. 597, 152 S.E.2d 649 (1966).

Cited in Maley v. National Acceptance Co., 250 F. Supp. 841 (N.D. Ga. 1966); Green v. King Edward Employees' Fed. Credit Union, 373 F.2d 613 (5th Cir. 1967); Gwinnett Sales & Serv. v. Trust Co., 130 Ga. App. 31, 202 S.E.2d 255 (1973); Hopkins v. Kemp Motor Sales, Inc., 139 Ga. App. 471, 228 S.E.2d 607 (1976); General Fin. Corp. v. Hester, 141 Ga. App. 28, 232 S.E.2d 375 (1977); Citizens & S. Nat'l Bank v. Georgia Steel, Inc., 25 Bankr. 796 (Bankr. M.D. Ga. 1982); May v. Macioce, 200 Ga. App. 542, 409 S.E.2d 45 (1991).

OPINIONS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

Commissioner may title older vehicles.

- Commission (now the commissioner) may accept the applications for the titling of older model vehicles at any time and may elect to title vehicles as security interests are created with respect thereto. 1963-65 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 244.

Obtaining title in foreign state.

- Vehicle owner whose vehicle is engaged in interstate transportation may, at the owner's option, elect not to title the vehicle in Georgia, but may rely on the permissive exemptions and title the vehicle in some other state. 1963-65 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 425.

Manufactured homes are subject to the Motor Vehicle Certificate of Title Act, O.C.G.A. § 40-3-1 et seq., and owners thereof are required to obtain a motor vehicle certificate of title. 2000 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 2000-8.

RESEARCH REFERENCES

Am. Jur. 2d.

- 7A Am. Jur. 2d, Automobiles and Highway Traffic, §§ 29 et seq., 88, 90.

C.J.S.

- 60 C.J.S., Motor Vehicles, §§ 75 et seq., 96 et seq., 283.

U.L.A.

- Uniform Motor Vehicle Certificate of Title and Anti-Theft Act (U.L.A.) § 4.

ALR.

- License tax or fee on automobiles as affected by interstate commerce clause, 25 A.L.R. 37; 52 A.L.R. 533; 115 A.L.R. 1105.

Civil rights and liabilities as affected by failure to comply with statute upon sale of motor vehicle, 58 A.L.R.2d 1351.

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