If you’ve bought, or are thinking about buying, a car with a lost title in Georgia you’ve come to the right place. We’ve documented our recent hands-on experience and the process where we bought a car without a title, got it it inspected, obtained a title bond, insured it and registered it.

This process is known as obtaining a Bond Title, or more specifically – obtaining a title based on a Surety Bond. A Surety Bond is essentially insurance where the bond company is guaranteeing to pay for the car in the event you didn’t truly own the vehicle or requested a title under false pretenses.

This isn’t a difficult process, but one that is challenging and time consuming enough to encourage you to do everything you can find to the original title (or seller), as well as to prevent people from using the process to illegally obtain a car they don’t own. We should also note this process does not apply to abandoned cars or trailers 2000 lbs or less. So, if you just found the car on the side of the road, this wouldn’t work for you.

Buyer Beware – Be Sure Of The Seller

Before we start, a little word of warning. There are numerous legal and financial risks to taking on this process. We are not attorneys, so this isn’t legal advice. However, to avoid the potential problems we generally only recommend this process if you know the seller. There are unfortunately a lot of scammers out there, and you don’t want to mistakenly purchase a stolen car or a car that still has a lien. There are plenty of sellers who will try to sell a stolen car as a “lost title” or get out from paying their debts by selling a car with a loan (lien) on it but not paying it off.

What happens if it turns out you bought a car that is stolen, even if you didn’t know? You will be out the money you paid for the car, the bond will be revoked, and they’ll repossess the car and return it to the rightful owner. Which means you are out literally EVERYTHING – the money you paid for the car and the bond. It’s not worth the risk if you are not sure of the seller.

Why You Might Buy A Car Without A Title In Georgia?

While for the general public there is probably little reason to buy a car without a title, for car enthusiasts it’s not a terribly uncommon thing. Less desirable cars, like those without titles, salvage titles and other blemishes make great race, drift or track car platforms. There is often little sense in buying a full priced car just to race. In some of those cases, you may not even to get a license plate. Still, for proving you are the legitimate owner you’ll want to address the title issues.

Also, many rare and collectible cars are known as “barn finds”. But since they have sat for years or decades, titles may have been lost. The owners can request a replacement title, which we recommend if possible. There are costs, which go up with the value of the car, so this process can get expensive. Still there are a variety of reasons it may not be practical to do so.

Who And What Cars Are Eligible For Title Bonds In Georgia?

You can buy a car without a title via the Bond Title process based on a Surety Bond under the following conditions, quoted directly from the State of the Georgia.

  • The buyer must be a legal resident of Georgia
  • The vehicle must require a Georgia title
  • Cannot be a 1985 or older year model vehicle (see our section on cars older than 1985 below)
  • Cannot be an abandoned vehicle

Steps To Obtain A New Title and Tag

Below we document the 8 major steps, including all documentation, needed to obtain a new title and tag, the latter is required for street driven vehicles. These steps are in order based on how we’d recommend doing it having gone through the process end to end several times.

At the end we have a checklist and recap of the documentation needed for ease. The process takes about 2 weeks end to end, but can be completed more quickly. You may ultimately have up to 6+ months of time to complete this process, but for a number of practical reasons, such as insurance and avoidance of additional fees or penalties, we recommend completing the process in 30 days maximum.

Let’s get to the process.

Step 1: Get The VIN And Validate The Car It Isn’t Stolen Or Have An Unresolved Lien

We highly recommend that you get the VIN number from the seller and get a VIN check report to validate it isn’t stolen or doesn’t have an unresolved lien. In addition we only recommend you buy from a known seller, and even in that instance we still recommend getting a VIN check. Running a VIN check is required as part of the process, so this step will not be wasted effort.

While the state and most guides will tell you this is one of the last steps, we actually recommend doing this first. As in before or at the time you are buying the car, not after.

As part of the process the state requires you to get a report based on National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS). This report will tell you the original owner, whether there are any liens reported on the vehicle, and whether the vehicle has been reported stolen. As a later step in the process, law enforcement will also check their database to ensure it has not been reported stolen as well.

You can find a number of sites that offer NMVTIS reports at the follow site: https://vehiclehistory.bja.ojp.gov/nmvtis_vehiclehistory#w7o24a. We used Clearvin.com because we’ve had luck with their service before and find the reports easy to read, but in our experience there isn’t a lot of difference between the sites.

The report prices vary but ours cost $15.

We should also note that this check will tell you if there are any unpaid or uncleared liens. If you buy the car you’ll need to address any before getting a title, which means you may be on the hook.

Step 2: Buy The Car And Get A Bill Of Sale

Buying the car and getting a bill of sale from the seller is step number two. While you can make your own bill of sale, we highly recommend in Georgia you use the official state Bill of Sale form. This will speed the process along when you get to the tag office. It will also help as documentation for the law enforcement inspection in an upcoming step.

Be sure to get the seller to sign the Bill Of Sale.

You have 30 days from the date of the Bill OF Sale to register the vehicle. If you have insurance on an existing car then you’ll automatically get 30 days of insurance. We discuss insurance in more detail below.

Step 2b: Get Additional Information From Seller

When getting the bill of sale you’ll need some additional details for future documentation that you must get from the seller. Specifically, you’ll need to swear to the reason you could not obtain the title from the seller. We highly recommend you get, and even document, the explanation provided. You’ll swear under penalty of a Felon to the the reason.

  • Reason you cannot get a replacement title
  • Drivers license number of the seller
  • Whether there are any unpaid Liens

Note: If there are any unpaid liens discovered in the process you will need to clear them before getting the replacement title.

Step 3: Get A Title Bond (aka Surety Bond)

Once you’ve purchased the car you’ll need to obtain a title bond, known as a “surety bond”. A surety bond is essentially insurance that if you did obtain the car incorrectly the original owner can be made whole for the value of the car, plus any expenses.

There are a few things to know about getting the Title Bond for a car in Georgia:

  • The bond amount must be two (2) times the state assessed value of the vehicle, but not less than $5,000. You can call the DMV at 1-855-406-5221 with the VIN and request the bond amount. They usually tell you the bond amount, already doubled, but be sure to ASK what was quoted so you can get it right. If the bond amount is wrong they will reject your title.
  • The bond issuer must be authorized to offer title bonds in the state of Georgia. When selecting a bond company be sure to get one that is authorized to offer title bonds and will provide the correct paperwork.

Getting the bond itself is pretty easy. Most insurance brokers in Georgia, like ourselves, can help you get one. There are also a number of online services. As we note above though, just make sure you get a company that is authorized in Georgia and will give you the correct paperwork in the correct amount.

Usually bond amounts under $25,000 have little to no underwriting, and bonds $50,000 and usually have a straight forward underwriting process. You just provide the necessary information, it’s briefly reviewed and executed in 1-2 business days. Expect for high value vehicles over $50,000, like a collectible cars, to have more extensive underwriting and validation.

While not a quote or offer for services from us, but as a general rule of thumb bond prices generally range from $100-$1000 for vehicles under $50,000. You can expect to pay 2-3% of the requested bond amount as a premium. Above $50,000 can vary greatly and generally require some additional information and underwriting review. Shift Brokers offers very competitively priced Title Bonds in Georgia, starting at just 1% of the bond amount. Of course, you mileage may vary, even greatly from the rules of thumb here so be sure to talk to a licensed agent about your specific situation.

The bond company will provide you with the MV-46 Certificate of Title Bond and the MV-46A Certificate Of Title Bond Affidavit, which will need to be completed and notarized by you. More on that at the next step.

You have 6 months from the bond issue date to obtain the title in the state of Georgia.

Step 4: Fill Out Remaining Forms And Notarize Paperwork

After obtaining the bond you’ll need to fill out a few forms to be ready for the final steps.

  • You’ll need to sign the MV-46 Certificate Of Title Bond. This form should have been provided by and notarized by your bond company.
  • You’ll need to fill out, enter the reason the seller can’t provide a title, sign and get notarized the MV-46A. This form will generally also be included in the package from your bond company.
  • You’ll need to complete any fields on the Bill of Sale and sign, this was covered in Step 2.
  • Fill out a MV-1 Application For Title/Tag Application
  • Fill out T-22B Certificate Of Inspection and prepare to have the car inspected by law enforcement.
  • Get your NMVTIS VIN check completed if you do not do so prior to purchasing the vehicle in Step 1.

Step 5: Get Insurance

While not technically required if you do not intend to get a tag or drive the vehicle on the street, we do think getting insurance before driving it on the street for the inspection is the proper thing to do. Most insurance companies will cover a newly purchased vehicle for up to 30 days automatically, given you don’t have a title on the vehicle we wouldn’t recommend driving without named insurance. It’s also one more piece of validation to the state and the law enforcement inspection that no matter what is discovered in the process, you intention was to purchase and register the vehicle legally.

If you are purchasing this vehicle to be an 2nd/3rd pleasure or enthusiast vehicle, or track or race car, we can help you with a number of great insurance options that may offer better coverage and lower rates than just adding insurance through your traditional mainstream carrier.

Note: Georgia DMV will only accept insurance electrically registered with the state, so while you’ll want to print your insurance card and bring it with you in case there are any questions, you’ll need to get insurance early enough in the process so it can show in their systems in order to get your tag.

Step 6: Get The Car Inspected By Sworn Law Enforcement Officer

If you didn’t already, fill out a T-22B Certificate Of Inspection and call your local police department or Sheriff’s office. They will need to physically inspect the car for the VINs. They are not necessarily assessing road worthiness, at least in our experience.

We should note we’ve had a few different experiences with how this process went. In the City Of Atlanta, the office came out within about 30 minutes of making a call to the non-emergency number and inspected the vehicle in front of our place of residence. In Sandy Springs, we had to take the vehicle to the police department headquarters building. When advised the vehicle did not have a tag, they just said to bring your paperwork with you in case you got pulled over for no tag while heading to the police headquarters. Not wanting to waste law enforcements time potentially pulling us over, we ultimately towed the car to the SSPD where the office performed the inspection, but we wanted to share the experience. This is also why we highly recommend, even if you’ve done this before elsewhere, calling and confirming the process with your specific police department and assessing the legality of driving the car for yourself, if applicable.

The inspection itself was relatively quick, usually taking about 5 minutes. Officers check to ensure the VIN numbers on the vehicle match the paperwork provided. They will also do a state level stolen vehicle check. While this processes is somewhat covered by the VIN report step you should have already completed, law enforcement will have more update to date records than the national database.

Step 7: Review Your Paperwork

Here is a quick checklist of all of the forms and paperwork you should bring with you the DMV:

  • Completed and Signed MV-46 Certificate Of Title Bond (Step 3)
  • Completed, Signed and Notarized MV-46A Certificate Of Title Bond Application (Step 3 & 4)
  • Completed and Signed Bill OF Sale (Step 2)
  • Completed and Signed MV-1 Application For Title/Tag (Step 4)
  • Completed, Signed by you and Signed by a sworn law enforcement officer for Georgia T-22B Certificate Of Inspection (Step 6)
  • Insurance Registered With The State (Step 5), if applicable
  • NMVTIS VIN Check Print Out (Step 1)

Step 8: Get A Title (And Tag)

Now that you have all of your needed paperwork, head down to your local tag office and turn in your paperwork. Be patient with the people working there, based on our experience, many of the people working at the DMV did not regularly see these types of applications. They generally needed to get their own checklist out and/or ask a supervisor to review. So plan for a little additional time at the DMV and don’t go when you are pressed for time.

The process will go much smoother if you are completely prepared in Step 7, ensuring you have all of your paperwork in order and completed, signed and notarized (where applicable).

You Should Now Have A Title And Tag

That’s in. Your title will be sent to you in the mail in a few weeks. You should get your tag (if for a street driven car) immediately on the spot. You can enjoy the car as normal and you’ll be able to sell the car in the future with a title. In fact, you may have just increased the value of the vehicle because most buyers probably wouldn’t buy a car without a title.

Appendix: Checklist of Documents With Links

Here is a quick list of the documents you’ll need to complete, with links to the form as a reference.

Vehicles Prior To 1985 With No Title

Vehicles prior to 1985 with no title fall into one of two categories:

  • Title Not Required – Vehicles Prior up to 1962
  • Titles Optional – Vehicles Between 1963 and 1985

Note the information below is primarily based on information sourced from official documents, unlike the title bond process above Shift Brokers has not independently verified each step recently.

Title Optional In Georgia (Vehicles Between 1963 and 1985)

Vehicles between 1963 and 1985 are known as Title Optional. Generally speaking if you have a title in your name or have be signed the title by the owner on an official title, you will receive a new title in your name.

If you purchase a car in this age range without a title, you can register the vehicle because titling is optional. A title will not be issued for the vehicle. Your registration, insurance (if street driven) and Bill of Sale are your proof of ownership.

  • The Georgia DMV has an app called Drives that lets you register the details of the vehicle
  • Go to your local DMV office with a Bill of Sale (we recommend you use the official state Bill of Sale form)
  • Pay the tag fee and tax (all vehicles 1962 are assessed at $100 in value no mater the actual vehicle value)
  • You’ll be given a license plate if the VIN is clean and obtain insurance

Title Not Required (Vehicles 1962 And Before)

For vehicles 1962 and older you will get what is known as a conditional title. A condition title is one that simplify indicates that the title may not reflect all liens or details on ownership, but grants the older the ability to register the vehicle. The process is relatively simple if you are buying a vehicle and requesting a conditional title.

  • The Georgia DMV has an app called Drives that lets you register the details of the vehicle
  • Go to your local DMV office with a Bill of Sale (we recommend you use the official state Bill of Sale form)
  • Pay the tag fee and tax (all vehicles 1962 are assessed at $100 in value no mater the actual vehicle value)
  • You’ll be given a license plate if the VIN is clean
  • A conditional title will be mailed to you and obtain insurance

With a Title Not Required or Conditional Title you do not need a Title Bond.

Shift Brokers Can Help You Navigate

Shift Brokers is car insurance for car enthusiasts. We can help you understand the how different carriers will value your specialty car. In addition, we can help you select from insurance companies that will get you the kind of service and coverage you need. And because we are car enthusiasts and specialize in policies for car enthusiasts, we can help you navigate the unique needs and situations only car enthusiasts find themselves in. The best part is, because we are brokers, we represent you, not the insurance companies. There is never any obligation to work with us.

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Informational Purposes Only

As with all of our blog posts with tips and suggestions about car insurance for enthusiasts, these are intended as general information. The specifics of your policy and carrier may differ. The information in this blog post is not intended to be formal insurance or legal advice. However, if you’d like to talk to a licensed agent about your specific needs or questions, get a quote.