Georgia License Plates and Geogia Drivers License Requirements

March 5, 2012

Find out the basic requirments for getting Georgia license plates and other DMV documentation, such as a Georgia drivers license or registration.

Whether you need to purchase new Georgia license plates or if you're looking to renew your previous registration, you need to make your request with the Georgia state Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV. If you're new to the state, or have just purchased a new vehicle, or acquired a new vehicle as a gift, you need to register that vehicle within 20 days of the date of receipt or of your arrival in the state. Failure to do so may result in criminal or monetary penalties, citations and other punishments. Fortunately, registering a vehicle is typically a straightforward process.

Registering a New Vehicle
When you complete the vehicle registration process for the first time, you'll receive a set of Georgia license plates to attach to your car. You need to register any vehicle you will operate in the state or park on any public roads in Georgia. You need the following documentation and other forms in order to complete the registration procedure:

  • Proof of ownership of the vehicle (typically the vehicle title)
  • Proof of valid car insurance
  • Title/Registration Application form, available at the DMV
  • Smog or emissions check certificate
  • Bill of Sale (if the car is less than 10 years old)
  • VIN inspection certificate (if you've brought the car from another state where it was previously registered)
  • Proof of person (driver's license or state-issued photo ID)
  • Proof of residence (an unopened piece of mail addressed to you in Georgia will suffice)

You'll also need to pay a fee for the cost of registering a vehicle. The fee varies according to how you register the car and a few other stipulations, so it's best to check in with a DMV representative to determine exactly how much money you'll owe.

Once you've obtained all of the necessary documents and have filled out the appropriate paperwork from the DMV, bring all of the items listed above, as well as a method of payment, to your local DMV branch office for processing. There, you'll submit the registration materials and also select the license plate design you like the best.

While your license plates are being printed, you'll receive a paper copy of the registration receipt to place in the rear window of your vehicle. Once you receive the completed license plates, affix the registration stickers onto the plates, and then attach the plates to the front and back license plate areas on your car.

Renewing Registration
The state of Georgia will mail you a registration renewal notice when your car registration is about to expire. It is crucial you renew the registration before the previous one expires, as failure to do this properly may incur penalties as well. The process of renewing a registration is cheaper and simpler than the initial registration, and can often be done by mail.

Georgia Car Registration for New Cars

Car registration in Georgia is a requirement for all motor vehicles using public roads. Failure to register a motor vehicle within 30 days from the time one takes up residence in the state of Georgia will lead to vehicle being impounded and subsequent fines of over $100. In general, people are considered as residents in Georgia from the very day they have a permanent home in the state.

Business organizations are required to go to the tag office where their business is based for new car registration. For firms that lease vehicles, the county in Georgia where the firm is based is the right place to register. The same rule applies for commercial vehicles.

Requirements for car registration in the state of Georgia include proof of ownership (which could be represented by the car title), a manufacturer's certificate of origin and certificate of inspection, which is obtained after completing a T-22B Form. Also, a Georgia driver's license or Georgia identification card are needed for registration. Application fees and taxes are currently below $45, though fees are subject to changes without notice.

Applications forms (MV-1) must be completed and printed online. Be sure to use your full names exactly as they appear on the valid driver's license. People applying for a tag from another state have to submit their vehicle's original valid registration certificate, if they wish to stay beyond 30 calendar days in the state of Georgia.

Owners or operators of some vehicles, such as earth-movers, are exempted from vehicle registration in the state of Georgia. Other motor vehicles in the exemption list include semi trucks and gas tankers. In addition, motor vehicles owned by people from out-of-state do not require registration as long as the cars do not spend more than 30 days in Georgia, and have a valid car registration documents from their home state. Also, non-resident military personnel have the option of either registering their vehicle in their home state or in Georgia.

Non-resident students from out-of-state are not required by law to register their vehicle in the state of Georgia if they choose not to, as long as their vehicles have been properly registered in their home states and their vehicle plates are visible. Concealing the numbers on a plate for whatever reason is not allowed in Georgia.

Transfer of License Plate
There are times one may want to transfer vehicle license plate from an old car to a new one. The local county commissioner's office is the place to do this. The application must reach the tax commissioner's office within 30 days of purchase of the motor vehicle. There are some limitations involved, so consult your local county tax commissioner's office or inquire online.

How to Renew Your Car Registration in Georgia

Renewal can be done either through mail, in person or online (not all counties allow online renewal).

Insurance Coverage
The State of Georgia makes it mandatory for vehicle owners to have auto insurance coverage policies. In order to apply for vehicle registration you will be asked to produce proof of your automobile insurance coverage.

The fee charged is on a case by case basis. Even though there is a flat fee for motorcycles and standard passenger vehicles fixed at $20, there are a number of additional factors which can add to this base payment. Some of the special extras under which you are liable to be charged a supplementary amount are:

  • Personalized license plates
  • Replacement of existing license plate due to damage or other problem
  • Failed emissions test, resulting in being labeled as a "polluting car"
  • Some counties require a mandatory emission check prior to any proceedings. The cost of these checks can vary between $10 and $25, which is added to the base fee

Georgia Drivers License Test Requirements

To qualify for a license, you should be familiar with the Georgia driver's manual and must satisfy the drivers license test requirements. The manual contains all the information that you need in order to successfully obtain a license without issue.

License Test Requirements for New Drivers
There are certain requirements that a driver applicant must:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Pass the written examination
  • Hold a learners permit for one year before the road test
  • Pass the road test
  • Pass a vision test
  • Pass a hearing test

In addition to these requirements you must know your social security number, and a parent or legal guardian must sign an affidavit that at least 40 hours of on the road driving has been done with a parent or guardian. At least 6 of these hours must be done at night. These requirements are in addition to any driving done during a driver's education course. The cost of license is $10.00. The drivers license application must be signed by a parent or guardian.

As a new driver, you have to apply for a learner's permit. The Georgia drivers license test includes a written exam on traffic signs, motor vehicle laws and safe driving techniques. There is also a road test. You have to pass both written and practical exams in order to qualify for a license. Note that the road skills test is only given if you pass the written exam. For those who are under 18, the learner's permit has to be obtained one year before the actual road skills test. There is also the vision and hearing test that must be passed to fully qualify for a license.

Road Test
You must pass a Georgia drivers license road test. It is best to book an appointment time well in advance. Road tests can be booked up to 90 days ahead. Walk-ins cannot be guaranteed and will likely result in a lengthy wait time. The vehicle used for the road test must have proof of proper insurance as well as registration. A vehicle with an expired license plate will result in a canceled appointment.

License Test Requirements for New Residents
For those who come from other states and would like to get a Georgia driving license, you must do so within 30 days of establishing permanent residency in the state. The out-of-state license should be brought to the DMV as it is required to surrender it upon application for a new license in Georgia. If you are at least 18 years old and have a valid out of state license to surrender, or one that has been expired for less than two years, you will be exempt from taking a written and driving test. You will be required to have a valid social security number and pass a vision test.

Proof of residency will be required. These requirements can be satisfied by a bank statement, utility bill, rental contract or pay-stubs. Proof of identity will be required as well. In addition to your out of state license, you must present a birth certificate, passport or immigration papers. There are other documents that meet the requirements, check your local DMV site for a full listing.

The same rules do not apply for international drivers who would like to drive in Georgia. They should be able to pass the road skills testing and the written exam to be able to get a license.

How to Take a Georgia Permit Practice Test

A permit practice test is an excellent resource to prepare you for taking the actual permit test. A written practice test may be available at the Georgia DMV, but can also be found online at the Georgia Department of Driver Services website.

The Georgia permit practice test consists of several questions designed to give you a general idea of what to expect during the final examination. All information necessary to pass both the road signs test and the road rules general knowledge test is provided in the driver's manual. You will be asked several questions from each section to determine your readiness for the tests and for driving.

Questions are multiple choice and answers will be provided. If you're taking a written practice test at a Georgia DMV location, an answer key should be available. The online practice test can be submitted upon completion, and it will be scored immediately. You will be given your overall score, and the opportunity to review questions answered correctly and incorrectly. There is an option to clear your answers and begin again, retaking the test until you feel comfortable with the results.

General Knowledge Section
The general knowledge portion of the test quizzes you on Georgia driving laws. Expect questions pertaining to driving on exit ramps, maximum speed limits on certain types of roads, specific Georgia laws, such as the Georgia Implied Consent Law, and what to expect during certain weather conditions. You will need knowledge of ways to prevent an accident, how to react if car trouble or an accident has occurred, the proper ways to signal and turn, and what indications are meant by certain pavement markings, such as arrows, white stripes or yellow lines. Expect about 10 to 20 questions in this area.

Road Signs Section
The Road Signs section test gives you an indication of your knowledge level of any particular road sign that you may come across while driving. You will be shown five to 10 different pictures of road signs and given multiple choice answers giving possible definitions of the sign. You must choose the correct sign meaning. Expect to see examples and pictures of signs like "right turn permitted on red light," "slippery when wet," "school zone ahead," 'steep hill" and "winding road."

The Next Steps
Once you have passed the permit practice test with a comfortable grade, you are ready to take the final exam. Go to a DMV customer service center. You do not need an appointment, but you must arrive at least 30 minutes prior to office close time. In order to obtain your Georgia permit you must also pass a vision test, provide a birth certificate or equivalent, provide a Georgia DDS Certificate of Attendance or equivalent, and you must know your social security number. You must be at least 15 years of age and provide a fee of $10 for the permit.

Georgia Drivers License Renewal
The majority of Georgia citizens are eligible for online or by mail renewals. If you are eligible, the DDS will send a renewal application to you in the mail roughly 60 days prior to your drivers license expiration date. The application will be mailed to the last address on file and will not be forwarded, so it is important that the DDS has your most current address. The renewal application has a Resident Identification Number that you must have along with the month and day of your last issue date on your current license. Renewing your license is as simple as following the directions on the letter.

In order to be eligible for online or mail renewal, the DDS must have a valid photo and digital signature on file. There can also be no outstanding suspensions, revocations or cancellations on your driving record. The state of Georgia requires that anyone over the age of 64 must complete a vision test, so these people are not eligible for the auto renewal process.

There are no changes allowed to the information on your license, including your name, address or gender, if you are using the auto renewal process. If you need to make changes of this information on your license you have to visit a local office.

If you are not a citizen of the United States you must go to a local office to renew your license and must bring proof of your lawful presence.

When you renew your license by mail or Internet you can use American Express, Visa, MasterCard or Discover. The cost is $20 for a five year license or $35 for a 10 year license. The entire process should take five minutes or less, and you will receive your new license in the mail in about 30 days.

Normal Renewal
If you are not eligible for auto renewal, it is necessary to visit a local DDS office. The renewal process is easy and should not take long. The only hold up may be the wait to get to the front of the line. You should bring your current license and a form of payment.