Laws and Regulations

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The following laws and regulations govern preservation and archaeology programs and projects in Georgia.

Full texts of codes can be found by searching for the code number on the Official Code of Georgia citations website.


  • Office of the State Archaeologist (1969); 12-3-53
    Establishes the duties of the State Archaeologist to carry out state-mandated archaeology programs.
  • State Archaeologist's Duties (2001); 12-3-621
    Strengthens state laws for the protection of archaeological sites by clarifying law enforcement provisions and confirming private property owners rights.
  • State Antiquities Act (1969): 12-3-52
    Provides for the protection of archaeological sites on state-owned lands, except for the Board of Regents; authorizes permits to be issued for approved archaeological investigations.
  • Submerged Cultural Resources (1985); 12-3-80 et seq.
    Defines submerged cultural resources; establishes state ownership and agency responsibilities; provides for permits for survey and research.
  • Cave Protection, Archaeological Sites (1977); 12-4-140 et seq.
    Prohibits damage to archaeological sites within caves.
  • Artifact Collecting (2016); 12-3-10
    It shall be unlawful for any person to use in any park, historic site, or recreational area any electronic device for the detection of metals, minerals, artifacts, or lost articles or for treasure hunting.

Burials and Cemeteries

  • Council on American Indian Concerns (1992, 2002); 44-12-280 et seq.
    Creates a Council on American Indian Concerns to advise on repatriation issues.
  • Grave Protection and Repatriation (1992); 44-12-260/264; 12-3-620 et seq.; 31-21-6; 31-21-44 et seq.
    Establishes policies for burials, skeletal material and funerary objects regarding archaeological research, public display, buying/selling artifacts and repatriation.
  • Abandoned Cemeteries and Burial Grounds (1991); 36-72-1 et seq.
    Strengthens cemetery protection laws by authorizing local governments to preserve and protect abandoned cemeteries, and to issue permits prior to any disturbance of burials.

Economic Incentives

  • State Preferential Property Tax Assessment (1989); 48-5-7.2
    Provides an 8-year property tax freeze on historic commercial and residential properties that have had a substantial rehabilitation and that are listed in the Georgia Register or the National Register.
  • Specimen Trees (2000); 48-5-7.2
    Authorizes property tax freeze to include costs incurred in preserving specimen trees.
  • Local Option Tax Incentives (1989, 1992); 48-5-7.3
    Provides property tax freeze in local government jurisdictions that have enacted local preservation ordinances. Substantial rehabilitation is not required.
  • Grants and Financial Assistance (1998, 2003); 12-3-58
    Provides state authorization to HPD for preservation grants and financial assistance for preservation activities.
  • Historical and Cultural Museum Assistance Program (1998); 12-3-57
    Creates a financial and technical assistance program for museums.
  • OneGeorgia Authority (2000); 50-34-1 et seq.
    Creates the OneGeorgia Authority to administer the OneGeorgia Fund that supports economic development, including historic preservation.
  • State Income Tax Credit (2015); OCGA 48-7-29.8 and DNR Rules 391-5-14 SITC
    Provides a state income tax credit of 25% of rehabilitation expenses for properties listed in the Georgia Register, either individually or in a Georgia district. The credit is capped at $100,000 for residences and $300,000 for income-producing properties..Two additional categories of up to $5 million and up to $10 million are available for large income-producing projects completed in the years 2017-2021, but with only $25 million in credits allowed per calendar year. The state tax credit for all categories is allowed for the taxable year in which the certified rehabilitation is completed, but preapproval is required for the credit above $300,000.
  • Historic Preservation License Plate (2005); 40-2-86
    Authorizes a special license plate to benefit historic preservation funding. The net proceeds of the sale of these plates will fund preservation activities through the Georgia Heritage grant program.
  • Georgia Land Conservation Act (2005); 36-22-1 et seq.
    Provides a comprehensive program of funding and tax incentives to protect a broad range of natural and historic properties through land acquisition and/or conservation easements.


  • Georgia Planning Act (1989)
    Requires local governments to prepare comprehensive plans. Historic resources must be addressed.
  • Georgia Environmental Policy Act (1991) 12-16-1 et seq.
    Requires state agencies to prepare environmental assessments on actions that impact the environment, including historic properties.
  • Georgia Mountains and River Corridor Protection Act (1991); 12-2-1
    Requires minimum standards to be established for land use development on mountain ridges and along river corridors, including the protection of historic properties, through coordinated planning procedures.
  • Georgia Surface Mining Act (1969,1992); 12-4-70 et seq.
    Requires that mining land use plans address properties listed in the National Register.

Preservation of Historic Properties

  • State Historic Preservation Office (1986); 12-3-50.1
    Establishes historic preservation as public policy and authorizes the Historic Preservation Division of the Department of Natural Resources to carry out a statewide historic preservation program, similar to those duties outlined in the National Historic Preservation Act.
  • Georgia Historic Preservation Act (1980, 1989); 44-10-20 et seq.
    Establishes uniform guidelines for local governments in creating historic preservation commissions and designating historic properties.
  • Georgia Register of Historic Places (1989); 12-3-50.2
    Provides state designation for historic properties. The criteria for designation are the same as the National Register.
  • Façade and Conservation Act (1976, 1992); 44-10-1 et seq.
    Establishes guidelines and standards for easements, consistent with nationwide standards.
  • Uniform Act for the Application of Building and Fire-related Codes to Existing Buildings (1984); 25-2-13
    Authorizes alternatives to fire and safety codes for historic buildings; provides for designation of landmark museum buildings.
  • Disclosure of Records (1995); 50-18-72
    Authorizes protection of records containing information about historic properties if disclosure would create substantial risks.
  • Historic School Buildings (1997); 20-2-260
    Allows state funding for rehabilitation of schools that are still used for educational purposes and that were listed in the National Register before December 31, 1994.
  • A Plus Education Reform Act (2000); 20-2-260 (c) (10)
    Calls for guidelines regarding funding for and use of schools that are listed in the National or Georgia Registers.
  • State Agency Historic Property Stewardship (1998); 12-3-55
    Requires state agencies to prepare preservation plans for historic properties for which they are responsible; creates the state stewardship awards program.
  • State Agency Use of Historic Buildings and Historic Districts (1998); 12-3-56
    Encourages state agencies to locate state offices in historic buildings or historic districts.