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  • Writer's pictureJeff Guymon

Georgia car registration: a helpful, illustrative guide

Updated: Aug 13, 2020

To legally drive through and enjoy the beauty Georgia has to offer, you must first register your vehicle. If you just moved here or are looking to renew your motor vehicle registration in Georgia, this article will help answer your questions.

This article will address the following questions:

  • What does Georgia registration look like, and how do I get a car registered in Georgia for the first time?

  • How do I re-register or update the registration for a vehicle in Georgia?

  • What fees might be involved in Georgia registration?

  • Can I complete my car registration online?

  • What sort of inspection is needed?

Complete your car registration renewal in Georgia Online

As of 2019, Georgia offers online motor vehicle registration at its online platform, Georgia DRIVES e-Services.

To be eligible for this service, you must:

  • Be located within a participating county.

  • Have a valid insurance policy on file

  • Have passed an emission test if your vehicle required one

  • Have a car that weighs less than 8,500 lbs

  • Not require a change of address

  • Not have a specialty plate that requires additional documents.

You can also check your renewal notice to see what options for renewal are available to you. This document is mailed to the address the county tax office has on file 30 to 45 days before your registration expires. Note, you can renew up to 90 days before the vehicle owner’s birthday. It will also include information about your vehicle, fees due for the registration period, your registration expiration, and your renewal ID (also known as your letter ID).

To complete your registration online, you will need the following items:

  • License Plate Number or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

  • Driver's License Number or Letter ID

  • Any fees due (registration, taxes, and/or convenience fees that apply)

    • Can pay with: credit card, debit card, or electronic check

Passing emissions inspection (counties where it's required)

To login to the site, you will need either the license plate number or VIN to identify your vehicle and your Georgia Driver's License number or Letter ID number to validate your identity. If you do not have a DL or your letter ID, you can enter your residential street address instead. If the vehicle belongs to a business, you can use the business address.

After filling out the information online, you will receive a confirmation email and will receive your decal and/or plate within 5-10 business days.

To see more information on fees and taxes, see “How to calculate and understand fees and taxes for car registration in Georgia” section below.

Other Registration Renewal Options in Georgia

The state of Georgia offers three alternatives to online car registration renewal: in-person, mail, and self-service kiosks.


The service is available at your local County Tag Office. To have a successful visit, you will need:

  • Renewal notice

  • Valid Georgia State Driver's License or I.D. card

  • Proof of liability insurance on file (if applicable)

  • Vehicle Emission Inspection on file (if applicable)

  • Payment for fees and/or taxes due

    • Forms of payment that are accepted vary by county, so check with your local County Tag Office.


You will need to mail in your documents to the address listed on your renewal notice. The items you will need to send in are the same as above, except you will not need to send in your Driver’s License or ID.


Self-Service Kiosks are available in participating counties: Grady, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Henry, and Cobb. On average, the transaction takes two minutes to complete, and the kiosk will print your new tags and decals immediately after. All locations accept credit or debit cards, but only some have cash as an option. You will need the same documents as you would need in person. To find a kiosk in your area, please visit the Georgia MVD site.

If you have any additional questions regarding the use of kiosks, please watch the video below:

How to Complete Your Out-Of-State Car Registration

Welcome to the state of Georgia! If you are looking to register your vehicle, the first step is to establish residency.

To be eligible for Georgia Residency, You Must:

  • Change your address with the IRS Form 8822

  • Establish permanent residency (buying a home, signing a lease)

  • Reside in the state for 183 days or part-days in the past 365 days before

  • Registered to vote in the state

  • Send your kids to a public school

Once you are an established resident, you will need to register your vehicle and obtain a Georgia License or ID card within 30 days. Most County Tag Offices require new residents to appear in person to complete these items, so check the rules for your specific location.

Driver’s License

To successfully obtain a Georgia driver's license/ID, you will need to bring:

  • Identity Documentation (Birth Certificate, U.S. Passport, Certificate of Naturalization, I-551)

  • Social Security Card

  • A valid license from another state

  • Two documents showing proof of Georgia Residency dated within the past six months (need to confirm a street address)

  • Pass the vision exam

  • If a non-US Citizen, view this document to review what is needed

Also, bring a debit or credit card for payment because DDS customer service centers do not accept checks, cashiers checks, or money orders. The fees you will need to pay may vary on the type of license or ID that you want.

If your out-of-state license has been expired for more than two years, you will be required to pass the written, road, and vision exams. On top of this, you will need to provide a certified copy of your motor vehicle report (MVR) or driving record from the state your previous license was issued. More information can be found through the DDS website.


To register your vehicle and have a successful visit, you will need the following items:

  • Completed MV-1 Title/Tag Application.

  • Original valid title issued in your name

  • Out of state/country valid registration certificate (if applicable)

  • Completed Form T-22B Certification of Inspection (VIN Inspection)

  • If a 1986 or newer vehicle and the previous state or country does not issue titles, you must submit:

    • Form T-22B Certification of Inspection completed by a Georgia law enforcement officer.

    • Current out-of-state registration from the appropriate out-of-state agency must be:

      • Issued in the applicant(s) name. If it is not, the Bill of Sale will be required.

    • Vehicles purchased from Massachusetts, Mississippi, or Minnesota, must provide a certification from the appropriate motor vehicle agency, indicating that the car was not titled in that state.

  • Georgia liability insurance reported by your insurance company and on record.

  • Emission Inspection Certificate (if applicable)

  • English translations (if originals are not in English)

  • Copy of Georgia driver's license or I.D.

  • Payment of all fees and/or taxes due:

For the Verification of VIN:

A VIN verification is a physical inspection to ensure the vehicle's 17-digit unique identifier, or VIN, matches the one listed on the registration and/or title document. These inspections are performed by a Constituted Georgia Law Enforcement Officer or a Georgia County Tax Commissioner. Form T-22B will be completed during the examination. Schedule an appointment ahead of time with your county tag office.

For liability insurance:

Georgia requires all motor vehicle owners to have Georgia liability insurance coverage on active registrations. Some popular auto insurance companies are State Farm, GEICO, and Allstate. The following are the minimum requirements:

  • Bodily Injury Liability: $25,000 per person

  • Bodily Injury Liability: $50,000 per accident

  • Property Damage Liability: $25,000 per accident

How To Complete Your New Motor Vehicle Registration In Georgia

If you have purchased a new vehicle and need to complete your car registration yourself, you will need to go to your local county tag office.

To be successful, you will need:

  • A valid Georgia driver's license or identification card

  • Proof of Ownership

  • The original title for the vehicle

    • Bill of sale if the vehicle is a 1985 model or older and does not require a title

    • Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin (MSO) or registration certification from non-title state/country, if the title is not available.

    • A completed Form T-22B Certification of Inspection if from a non-title state or country.

  • Form MV-1 DOR Motor Vehicle Title Application / Tag Application

  • Proof of residency in the form of a lease agreement, paystub, or utility bill.

  • Proof of Inspection

  • Proof of Insurance

    • Acceptable forms:

      • Filed by an insurance company in the Department of Revenue's database

      • Rental agreement

      • Fleet Insurance Policy Card

To save a bit of time, you can fill out the MV-1 DOR form online before heading into the physical office. The only information you will need for this is your VIN and vehicle information.

If purchasing from a dealer:

In Georgia, dealers will only apply for your title for you but are not required to register your vehicle. It is your responsibility to submit all the necessary documents within 30 days of purchase. The dealer should give you a temporary operating plate that allows you to drive legally during this time. Failure to register your vehicle within this time frame will result in a $100 fine.

If purchasing from a non-dealer:

You will have seven days from the purchase date to transfer the title and register your vehicle. Ensure the seller reports the sale of the car to the MVD and signs the title to transfer ownership to you before leaving the deal.

How to calculate and understand fees and taxes for car registration in Georgia

Georgia has a Title Ad Valorem Tax (TAVT) and an Annual Ad Valorem Tax.

A TAVT is a one-time tax paid when the vehicle changes ownership, is first registered in GA from out-of-state, and for cars purchased in GA on March 1, 2013, or after. The TAVT rate for recently purchased GA vehicles is calculated by multiplying the rate in effect on the purchase date by the vehicle's fair market value, which is currently 6.6%. For new residents, the TAVT is calculated on 3% of the fair market value for the vehicle. To estimate the TAVT for your car, you can use this calculator provided by the Georgia MVD.

Reductions are made for trade-ins sales by dealers, but not during private sale transactions. Applications for title and TAVT payments are submitted to the county the buyer resides in. There is a 30 day period starting from the date of purchase to apply for a title. If the application is late, there is a 10% penalty based on TAVT liability plus a 1% penalty for each additional day. If purchasing a vehicle from a dealer, they must accept your Application for both the title and TAVT payments and deliver them to the County Tag Office.

Annual Ad Valorem taxes are for vehicles purchased before the TAVT went into effect on March 1, 2013. These taxes are due annually during the registration renewal process. This tax is assessed every year and is based on county and vehicle value during your registration period. You can calculate your Annual Ad Valorem Tax here.

If you fail to register your vehicle on time, a $5 penalty plus a 10% penalty on the ad valorem tax (if applicable) is applied. More information can be found through the Department of Revenue.

Smog and Emission Testing

The Metro Atlanta area implemented smog and emission testing because of the rising concern of pollution health-related issues. Thirteen counties within this area are now required to get a yearly emission test before renewing their vehicle. These counties are Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding, and Rockdale. If you have recently moved into one of these areas, you have 30 days to have your vehicle tested and registered.

Vehicles that are exempt from emissions testing:

  • Vehicles 25+ years old (1995 or earlier)

  • Vehicles that operate only on - natural gas, propane, battery electricity, hydrogen

  • Models from 2018, 2019, and 2020

  • Motorcycles, recreational vehicles (R.V.s), and motor homes

If you are required to get an emission test, you can find the nearest testing location on Georgia's Clean Air Force website. Due to COVID-19, gov Kemp and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) require all visitors to wear a mask and practice social distancing of six-feet when in the facilities.

If a vehicle fails the inspection the first time, the car must be repaired and pass a retest within 30 days of the initial examination.

Inspection Fees

The fees are specific to each station but are posted on signs at the locations. It can cost up to $25.

Your car is registered, now what? Lower your payments!

Now that you feel the stress and confusion of vehicle registration vanishing, it’s time to take a look at how to improve another aspect of your car-ownership experience: your loan. This is where can be helpful.

If you received your vehicle loan from a dealership and have made all of your payments on time - you are likely overpaying. Most people, maybe even you, can save money by refinancing their loans from the comfort of their homes. If you don’t want to waste any more time or money, follow these simple steps.

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