Can car dealer sell vehicle without title?

August 20, 2018

Dear Consumer Ed:

I am trying to purchase a used car from a dealer in North Georgia. There is no lien on the car, but he told me that the title was in Atlanta and that when I purchase the car, he will give me a Bill of Sale, which I can use to get my tag and registration. Without the title, how can this sale be legal?

Consumer Ed says:

In Georgia, titles are not required for vehicles manufactured in or prior to 1985, but a Bill of Sale must be provided to register the car in your name. If the car is newer than 1985, a title is required.  So, if the used car you are considering purchasing is a 1985 model or older, then bringing the Bill of Sale to your local County Tag Office will suffice to register the car in your name. If you decide to move forward with this purchase, the Georgia Department of Driver Services recommends getting a vehicle history report on the vehicle, which provides a title search, accident report, lemon report, odometer check, and registration details. For a vehicle history report, visit: or

On the other hand, if the car is newer than 1985 and does not have a title, you won’t be able to register the car, which would leave you stuck with a vehicle you can’t legally drive. For that reason, you may want to consider purchasing a different vehicle from a different seller. 

Submit your own question to Consumer Ed.  Remember…we do not give legal advice. Always consult a lawyer about legal issues.