Motor Vehicle Registration

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Georgia law requires that each motor vehicle operated on the roads and highways in the State of Georgia be registered.

When Should I Register My Vehicle?

New Resident - New residents are required to register their vehicle in Georgia within thirty (30) days of moving into the state. New residents must register his/her vehicle in the Motor Vehicle Office in the county in which they reside. Failure to register the vehicle within thirty (30) days of establishing residency may result in fines from law enforcement and late fees and when the vehicle is registered.

Georgia Residents - Georgia residents are required to register their vehicle within seven (7) days from the date of purchase for a casual sale (individual to individual). Motor vehicle registrations must be completed at the Motor Vehicle Office in the county where the vehicle owner and/or lessee resides. Failure to register the vehicle within seven (7) business days may result in fines from law enforcement.

Motor vehicle dealers are required by law to temporarily register vehicles they sell by issuing a temporary operating permit (TOP). This allows the vehicle to be operated legally while the Georgia certificate of title is being processed. Once the Georgia title has been processed the Georgia resident must have a Georgia license plate issued or transfer an existing valid license plate to the vehicle.

Penalties - Failure to register a vehicle within the specified time limits listed above may result in fines from law enforcement and late fees at registration.

 

Motor Vehicle "Owners" Exempt from Registration in Georgia

Non-residents - Motor vehicles owned by non-residents* may be used and operated on the public streets and highways of this state for a period of 30 days without registering provided these vehicles are properly registered and visibly display valid license plates (tags) from the owner(s)’ home state.

Visitors - Motor vehicles owned by visitors  may be used and operated on the public streets and highways of this state, for pleasure purposes only, for a period of 90 days without registering provided these vehicles are properly registered and visibly display valid license plates from the owner(s)’ home state.

Non-resident Military Personnel - As a non-resident military person stationed in Georgia pursuant to the military orders, you are not required to register your vehicle(s) in this state as long as your vehicle visibly displays a valid license plate from your home of record state. 

If you choose to register your vehicle(s) in Georgia, you must comply with all requirements of vehicle registration and apply at the Tax Commissioner's Motor Vehicle Office in the county where you reside. 

Non-resident Students - As a non-resident student attending a Georgia College or University, you are not required to register your vehicle(s) in this state as long as your vehicle visibly displays a valid license plate from your home state. 

 

When and Where Do I Renew My License Plate?

After the initial registration, your vehicle's registration must be renewed annually at the Motor Vehicle Office in the county where you reside during your registration period. In Columbia County your registration period is 30-45 days prior to the primary owner's (first person shown on the vehicle's title or tag registration) birthday (person's name). The registration must be renewed on or before the primary owner's birthday (not the end of the birthday  month) to prevent penalties. Failure to renew your registration during your renewal period may result in penalties and fines if stopped by law enforcement.

Failure to renew your vehicle's license plate during your registration period will result in the following penalties:

  • 25% of the license plate fee
  • 10% of the ad valorem tax

For a business owned or operated vehicle, the vehicle's registration must be renewed annually at the Motor Vehicle Office in the county where the business is located during the owner's registration period. The registration period for a vehicle titled and registered in a business name is the last day of the month based on the business name. Below are the months of the year correlated to the first letter of the business name. See below:

 

 A - B  = January  M - N  = July
 C - D  = February  O - P  =  August
 E - F  =  March  Q - R  =  September
 G - H  =  April  S - T  =  October
 I - J  =  May  U - V- W  =  November
 K - L  =  June  X - Y- Z  =  December

 

The registration period is 30-45 days prior to the last day of the registration month (see above). The registration must be renewed on or before the expiration date to prevent penalties. Failure to renew your registration during your renewal period may result in penalties and fines if stopped by law enforcement.

Failure to renew your vehicle's license plate during your registration period will result in the following penalties:

  • 25% of the license plate fee
  • 10% of the ad valorem tax

For additional information please refer to the links below or you may call the Columbia County Motor Vehicle Office at (706) 868-6884 during regular business hours. Office Hours are: Monday - Friday from 8a.m. - 5p.m. (excluding holidays)

 

Insurance Requirements

Renew Over the Web or Telephone

Methods of Payment

  

 

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