When learning Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code, one of the first easy-to-understand principles is that personal property filings are filed at the central level, typically a Secretary of State, and real estate-related liens or fixture filings are filed at the local level.
Easy enough, right? Not quite! There are exceptions to this rule. One of the biggest exceptions is the state of Georgia.
What makes the Peach State so unique when it comes to UCC?
UCC Filing in Georgia
In Georgia, all filings are made at the local level regardless of the lien type. UCCs, fixtures, mortgages and deeds are all filed at the county. Instead of having the Secretary of State as its central filing office for UCCs, the state utilizes an outside vendor, the Georgia Superior Court Clerks' Cooperative Authority, also known as the Clerk’s Authority or GSCCCA. The GSCCCA itself is not a filing office. (Fun fact: Georgia was the first state to privatize the indexing of their UCC system to a third-party vendor in 1993.)
Due to this unique approach, filers have options! Georgia statute does not dictate which county to file in, so it’s not necessary to file based on the debtor’s address or where the collateral is located. You may submit personal property filings to any of the state’s 159 counties and have them successfully filed. (Another fun fact: Prior to 1995, filers had to file in all counties to achieve protection statewide – imagine those filing fees!)
Where to File UCCs in Georgia
With so many options on where to file, how do you choose? Some filers select their county filing office based on turn-around time alone. High volume counties, like Fulton, experience longer turn-around times, which can be less appealing to filers, whereas filing offices in more rural or suburban counties, such as Fayette and Bibb Counties, may complete the review and filing process the same day that the UCC financing statement is received.
Note that once a UCC1 is filed in a particular county in Georgia, filers are not committed to file related UCC3 amendments in that same county. Since all filings are reported to the Clerk’s Authority, the UCC3 can be filed in any county, again allowing filers the opportunity to select their filing offices based upon time and convenience.
Filers who prefer to file a UCC3 in the same county as the initial financing statement can determine where the UCC1 was filed based on the file number. GSCCCA file numbers begin with a series of three digits corresponding to the county where the lien was filed. The sequence begins with 001 for Appling County and ascends by county name alphabetically.
Transmitting Utility Filings in Georgia
When it comes to Article 9 transmitting utility filings, Georgia also stands apart from every other state in the nation. Where transmitting utility filings remain effective in other states until terminated, Georgia adopted a non-uniform version of Section 9-515 that leaves transmitting utility filings effective for only five years. Like other personal property related UCCs, these filings need to be continued every five years to avoid lapsing.
Georgia UCC Searching
After filings are submitted to a county in Georgia, the local superior court clerk has 24 hours to transmit the UCC filing to the GSCCCA. The GSCCCA then has 24 hours to add the filing to the statewide index, a one-stop shop where due diligence searchers can conduct UCC and state tax lien searches.
Quick Recap of UCC Filing and Searching in Georgia
- Personal property and real estate-related liens are filed at the county level in the State of Georgia.
- Filers can choose their county filing office without any restrictions.
- All UCCs filed in Georgia counties are reported to the statewide index, the GSCCCA.
- UCC searches done at the GSCCCA capture liens filed in all 159 counties.
- Transmitting utility filings in Georgia are issued a five-year lapse date. UCC3 continuations are needed for the lien to remain effective.
This content is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered, or relied upon, as legal advice.