Dear Consumer Ed: 

I recently bought a used car from a dealership.  It has now been four weeks since the purchase and I still have not received my registration.  Now, my temporary dealer plate is set to expire in the a few days and I don’t have my permanent license plate.  What can I do?

Consumer Ed says: 

There are a number of reasons why you might not yet have received these documents.  First, when a dealer transfers a vehicle to the buyer, the dealer has 30 days from the date of purchase in which to apply for a new title in the buyer’s name.  Based on the fact that you bought the vehicle about 28 days ago, the dealer is just reaching the end of this time period.  If the dealer hasn’t submitted the application yet, this would explain why you can’t get your new tag.  Another possibility is that the dealer applied for the new title in your name, but the application was rejected because it was not properly submitted.  When this happens, the dealership submitting the application is given 60 days from the initial rejection date to resubmit its application.  Also, keep in mind that if you financed the vehicle, the new title will be issued in your name, but sent to the finance company to hold until you’ve paid for the vehicle in full. 

Failure to submit the application and supporting documents within the initial 30-day time period will result in a $10.00 fee assessed against the dealer.  Additionally, if the dealership willfully fails to obtain a title for you, it may be subject to having its dealer license suspended or revoked.    Assuming that the dealer is in the process of applying for your title, you should immediately apply for an extension to the initial registration period.   Under Georgia law, you are entitled to a one-time, 30-day extension if you meet the following requirements:

1.    Owner purchased the vehicle from a new or used motor vehicle dealer;
2.    The new or used motor vehicle dealer has issued the buyer a temporary dealer license plate with an expiration date 30 days after the date of purchase;
3.    A new title has not been issued in the name of the purchaser 25 days after the date of purchase; and
4.    The dealer temporary license plate has not expired.
Since you appear to meet all of these requirements, you should be eligible.  You’ll need to print and fill out an extension application, (by going to the Motor Vehicle Division section of the Georgia Department of Revenue’s website at motor.etax.dor.ga.gov), then bring the application, along with your original bill of sale from the car dealer and the temporary license plate, to your county tag agent.  The county tag agent will then issue you a temporary 30-day operating permit free of charge.

If you’ve contacted the dealership, haven’t received a straight answer about your title application’s progress, and have reason to believe that the dealer has willfully failed to apply for your title, you should seek advice from an attorney.  You can also file a complaint with the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection at www.consumer.georgia.gov (or by calling 404-651-8600), and the Georgia Secretary of State at http://sos.georgia.gov/plb/usedcar/complaint.htm.

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