2021 Georgia Code
Title 40 - Motor Vehicles and Traffic
Chapter 3 - Certificates of Title, Security Interests, and Liens
Article 2 - Certificates of Title
§ 40-3-21. Application for First Certificate of Title

Universal Citation: GA Code § 40-3-21 (2021)
  1. The application for the first certificate of title of a vehicle in this state shall be made to the commissioner's duly authorized county tag agent on the prescribed form. Except as provided in subsection (b) of this Code section, the application shall be submitted to the appropriate authorized county tag agent by the owner of the vehicle within 30 days from the date of purchase of the vehicle or from the date the owner is otherwise required by law to register the vehicle in this state. If the owner does not submit the application within that time, the owner of the vehicle shall be required to pay a penalty of $10.00 in addition to the ordinary title fee provided for by this chapter. If the documents submitted in support of the title application are rejected, the party submitting the documents shall have 60 days from the date of rejection to resubmit the documents required by the commissioner for the issuance of a certificate of title. Should the documents not be properly resubmitted within the 60 day period, there shall be an additional $10.00 penalty assessed, and the owner of the vehicle shall be required to remove immediately the license plate of the vehicle and return the same to the authorized county tag agent. The license plate shall be deemed to have expired at 12:00 Midnight of the sixtieth day following the initial rejection of the documents submitted, if the documents have not been resubmitted as required under this subsection. Such application shall contain:
    1. The full legal name, driver's license number, residence, and mailing address of the owner;
    2. A description of the vehicle, including, so far as the following data exist: its make, model, identifying number, type of body, the number of cylinders, and whether new, used, or a demonstrator and, for a manufactured home, the manufacturer's statement or certificate of origin and the full serial number for all manufactured homes sold in this state on or after July 1, 1994;
    3. The date of purchase by the applicant and, except as provided in paragraph (2) of subsection (c) of this Code section, the name and address of the person from whom the vehicle was acquired and the names and addresses of the holders of all security interests and liens in order of their priority; and
    4. Any further information the commissioner reasonably requires to identify the vehicle and to enable the commissioner or the authorized county tag agent to determine whether the owner is entitled to a certificate of title and the existence or nonexistence of security interests in the vehicle and liens on the vehicle.
    1. As used in this subsection, the term "digital signature" means a digital or electronic method executed or adopted by a party with the intent to be bound by or to authenticate a record, which is unique to the person using it, is capable of verification, is under the sole control of the person using it, and is linked to data in such a manner that if the data are changed, the digital or electronic signature is invalidated.
    2. If the application refers to a vehicle purchased from a dealer, it shall contain the name and address of the holder of any security interest created or reserved at the time of the sale by the dealer. The application shall be signed by the owner and, unless the dealer's signature appears on the certificate of title or manufacturer's statement of origin submitted in support of the title application, the dealer, provided that as an alternative to a handwritten signature, the commissioner may authorize use of a digital signature so long as appropriate security measures are implemented which assure security and verification of the digital signature process, in accordance with regulations promulgated by the commissioner. The dealer shall mail, deliver, or electronically submit the application to the authorized county tag agent in the county where the vehicle will be registered within 30 days from the date of the sale of the vehicle. If the application is not submitted within that time, the dealer, or in nondealer sales the transferee, shall be required to pay a penalty of $10.00 in addition to the ordinary title fee paid by the transferee provided for in this chapter. If the documents submitted in support of the title application are rejected, the dealer submitting the documents shall have 60 days from the date of initial rejection to resubmit the documents required by the commissioner for the issuance of a certificate of title. Should the documents not be properly resubmitted within 60 days, there shall be an additional penalty of $10.00 assessed against the dealer. The willful failure of a dealer to obtain a certificate of title for a purchaser shall be grounds for suspension or revocation of the dealer's state issued license and registration for the sale of motor vehicles.
    1. If the application refers to a vehicle last previously registered in another state or country, the application shall contain or be accompanied by:
      1. Any certificate of title issued by the other state or country; and
      2. Any other information and documents the commissioner reasonably requires to establish the ownership of the vehicle and the existence or nonexistence of security interests in it and liens against it.
    2. If the application refers to a vehicle last previously registered in another state and if the applicant is the last previously registered owner in such state, the application need not contain the name and address of the person from whom the vehicle was acquired.

(Ga. L. 1961, p. 68, § 8; Ga. L. 1962, p. 79, § 6; Ga. L. 1964, p. 436, § 2; Ga. L. 1981, p. 883, §§ 1, 2; Code 1981, §40-3-22; Ga. L. 1982, p. 3, § 40; Ga. L. 1985, p. 149, § 40; Ga. L. 1985, p. 1271, § 2; Ga. L. 1986, p. 438, § 1; Code 1981, §40-3-21, as redesignated by Ga. L. 1990, p. 2048, § 3; Ga. L. 1994, p. 741, § 2; Ga. L. 1995, p. 809, § 13; Ga. L. 1997, p. 739, § 5; Ga. L. 2003, p. 500, § 1; Ga. L. 2007, p. 652, § 8/HB 518; Ga. L. 2018, p. 287, § 4/HB 329.)

The 2018 amendment, effective July 1, 2019, deleted "or the authorized county tag agent" or "or authorized county tag agent" following "the commissioner" throughout this Code section; in subsection (a), substituted "shall be made to" for "shall be made by the owner to the commissioner or" in the first sentence, substituted "application shall be submitted to" for "application must be submitted to the commissioner or" near the middle of the second sentence, and substituted "return the same to" for "return same to the commissioner or" near the end of the fifth sentence; added a comma following "changed" near the end of the last sentence of paragraph (b)(1); and, in paragraph (b)(2), substituted "so long as" for "as long as" in the middle of the second sentence, and substituted "The dealer shall mail, deliver, or electronically submit the application to the authorized county tag agent in the county where the vehicle will be registered" for "The dealer shall promptly mail or deliver the application to the commissioner or the county tag agent of the county in which the seller is located, of the county in which the sale takes place, of the county in which the vehicle is delivered, or of the county wherein the vehicle owner resides so as to have the application submitted to the commissioner or such authorized county tag agent" in the third sentence.

Code Commission notes.

- Pursuant to Code Section 28-9-5, in 1986, "exist" was substituted for "exists" in paragraph (a)(2).

Editor's notes.

- Ga. L. 1995, p. 809, § 22, not codified by the General Assembly, provides: "Any local law enacted pursuant to Code Section 40-2-21, which is in conflict with the provisions of this Act shall stand repealed on the effective date of this Act." The act became effective January 1, 1997.

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Jurisdiction of federal court.

- O.C.G.A. §§ 9-4-1,9-5-1,40-2-8,40-3-6,40-3-21 and48-2-59 provide plaintiff challenging automobile "title transfer fee" with "plain, speedy and efficient" pre-tax and post-tax remedies by which a taxpayer could challenge the constitutional validity of a state tax, and so satisfied the criteria of the Tax Injunction Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1341, so as to bar jurisdiction of the federal court. Johnsen v. Collins, 875 F. Supp. 1571 (S.D. Ga. 1994).

Title passage when certificate not previously issued.

- Former O.C.G.A. § 40-3-31 (see now O.C.G.A. § 40-3-32) cannot serve to deny passing of right, title, or interest to a purchaser of a vehicle on which a certificate of title has not previously been issued, especially in light of the statutory scheme which contemplates a possible considerable lapse of time between the actual purchase of a new vehicle and the issuance of the certificate of title. Owensboro Nat'l Bank v. Jenkins, 173 Ga. App. 775, 328 S.E.2d 399 (1985).

Strict requirements for issuance of certificate of title.

- Requirements to be met for issuance of certificate of title are more stringent than those required to perfect a security interest and therefore an application may have enough information for the applicant to have a security interest perfected and yet not enough information for the applicant to receive a certificate of title. Harris v. Ford Motor Credit Co. (In re Smith), 10 Bankr. 883 (M.D. Ga. 1981).

Certificate of title from foreign state.

- Certificate of title from another state is not on same level as one from Georgia. Wielgorecki v. White, 133 Ga. App. 834, 212 S.E.2d 480 (1975).

Bank's security interest and 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).

Cited in Thornton v. Alford, 112 Ga. App. 321, 145 S.E.2d 106 (1965); May v. Macioce, 200 Ga. App. 542, 409 S.E.2d 45 (1991).

OPINIONS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

Establishing ownership through additional documents.

- Commissioner has broad discretion as to what additional documents will be required to establish ownership. 1965-66 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 66-200.

Priority of stolen vehicle's original owner's property right.

- Issuance of title to another cannot deprive stolen vehicle's original owner of that owner's property right. 1970 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U70-224.

RESEARCH REFERENCES

C.J.S.

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

U.L.A.

- Uniform Motor Vehicle Certificate of Title and Anti-Theft Act (U.L.A.) § 6.

ALR.

- What constitutes plain, speedy, and efficient state remedy under Tax Injunction Act (28 USCS § 1341), prohibiting federal district courts from interfering with assessment, levy, or collection of state business taxes, 31 A.L.R. Fed. 2d 237.

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