Buying a Car in Georgia From Out of State

Buying a car in Georgia from out of state can be complicated, but registering an out-of-state vehicle is, luckily, pretty simple.
Written by Claire Beaney
Reviewed by Jaya Anandjit
To register a vehicle purchased from a dealer or individual out of state, Georgia residents must pay specific fees on the vehicle and submit the original title for transfer to the Georgia Department of Revenue.
Purchasing a car is already a convoluted process, and doing so from a state other than your own adds a new level of complexity.
If you have no idea where to start, don't stress—
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How to buy a car out of state as a Georgia resident

You're a Georgia resident who recently purchased a car in another state—now what? What are the steps to transferring the title to Georgia, where do you pay any fees and taxes, and how do you get the vehicle registered?
You can still register a vehicle in Georgia that was purchased in nearby
South Carolina
, or any other state; however, you will be required to submit certain forms and pay a number of fees to the Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR). It's a pretty simple procedure once you know all the steps involved.
First, it’s important to know that an
emissions test certificate
might be required, depending on which county you live in and the specific car you’re buying. All cars or light-duty trucks manufactured between 1994 and 2014 that weigh less than 8,500 lbs require a certificate—as long as you live in one of these 13 counties:
  • Cherokee County
  • Clayton County
  • Cobb County
  • Coweta County
  • DeKalb County
  • Douglas County
  • Fayette County
  • Forsyth County
  • Fulton County
  • Gwinnett County
  • Henry County
  • Paulding County
  • Rockdale County
In terms of documentation, no matter where you live in Georgia, you’ll need the following:
Original, legitimate title that was issued in your name or properly assigned to you
Out-of-state/country valid registration certificate, if applicable
Completed and signed
MV-1 Title/Tag Application
Proof of insurance
, as reported by your insurance company and on record with the DOR
You’ll also need a copy of your
Georgia driver’s license
or I.D.—there are no exceptions to this requirement, whether you are a resident, non-resident, or member of the military. Additionally, if any of your documents are not in English, you’ll need to submit an English translation.
If your vehicle is from 1986 or later, and the previous state or country does not issue titles, you must submit the following:
  • Form T-22B Certification of Inspection
    , completed by a Georgia law enforcement officer
  • Current out-of-state registration (a tag receipt) from the proper agency in that state. Must be:
  • Issued in the name of the applicant or correctly assigned to the applicant
  • If there are no assignment spaces, the applicant must submit a signed bill of sales
  • For cars bought in
    , or
    , you have to show proof from the state's motor vehicle agency that the car was not titled there.
Finally, you’ll have to pay all necessary fees and taxes, which are comprised of the following:
  • License plate fee: $20
  • Title fee: $18
  • Title Ad Valorem Tax (TAVT)
    : will differ depending on the fair market value of your vehicle
  • Any penalties due
When you bring all of your paperwork to your
County Tag Office
and submit it, you'll get a Georgia title and a set of
Georgia license plates
MORE: Georgia electric vehicle incentives
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How to buy a car in Georgia if you live out of state

What if you don't live in Georgia but want to buy a car there? The process is mostly the same, but it can vary depending on where you want to register the car. Most of the time, though, you'll have to:
  • Acquire a legal bill of sale when purchasing a vehicle (some states will require a notary stamp on the bill of sale)
  • Take the bill of sale, along with your driver's license or another identifying document, proof of insurance, proof of residency, and the odometer disclosure form to your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
  • Get your car registered in the state where you live
You may be required to pay local sales tax or the difference in sales tax between Georgia and the state where you want to register the vehicle.

What if I don’t have a physical title?

If you only have a digital copy of your title and would like a physical copy, you can use Georgia’s
Electronic Lien and Title (ELT) program
They provide paperless vehicle titles to financial institutions that work with them. The ELT program helps the Georgia Department of Revenue and financial institutions exchange information about liens through one of the service providers listed on their page.
MORE: Title transfer in Georgia

Tips for buying a vehicle out of state

If you can't find the car you want in your home state, or if you can take advantage of lower sales prices in another location, buying a car from out-of-state might be your best option. There are some challenges in the process, though, to keep in mind:
  • Always examine the vehicle history report. This is especially true if you are purchasing a secondhand car from a private owner.
    and other businesses offer vehicle history records that will notify you of any accidents or other difficulties in the vehicle's history. 
  • Get your car inspected in your home state. The state where you will actually be living, driving, and registering the car is the one whose inspection standards the car you buy must meet. Learn everything you need to know about Georgia's vehicle inspection guidelines right here.
  • Keep in mind your possible emissions inspection.
    Emissions testing in Georgia
    is required for some drivers, depending on their county and car make/model.
  • Learn the vehicle sales tax regulations in your home state. It is your home state's tax rate that applies when buying a car from another state.
  • Purchase car insurance before you hit the road! Don't leave without buying insurance if you plan on driving the car back to your home state. Even if you are still working out the details of your other documentation, you need coverage that satisfies
    Georgia's minimum insurance requirements

How to save on car insurance in Georgia

Acquiring car insurance is an important part of buying a vehicle regardless of where you live—but if you're juggling all of the paperwork needed for an out-of-state vehicle purchase, you may not have time to browse for the lowest price.
That’s exactly where
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