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 required for all 1986 and newer year model vehicles. 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. 

On the other hand, if the vehicle is older than 1986, a Bill of Sale must be provided to register the car in your name. So, if the used car you are considering purchasing is a 1985 model or older, then bringing the Bill of Sale along with a VIN inspection form completed by law enforcement 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 Revenue 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 www.vehiclehistory.gov

Visit dor.georgia.gov/motor-vehicle-titles-and-registration or www.dor.ga.gov for more information and Tag office locations. 

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