What is an Alabama Vehicle Registration?

The state of Alabama requires all residents’ vehicles to be registered with a local county registration office if they plan on operating them on Alabama’s highways and roadways. The vehicle registration process is monitored by the Alabama Department of Revenue (DOR) Motor Vehicle Division (MVD).

Before Alabama residents can register their vehicle, they must have a valid Alabama title and have an active auto insurance policy with an insurance company that provides services in the state of Alabama.

New Residents of Alabama

New residents of Alabama need to register their vehicle within 30 days of establishing residency in the state. Before individuals can register their vehicle, they need an Alabama title for the vehicle in question and a valid Alabama auto insurance policy.

Registering a Non-Leased, Out-of-State Vehicle in Alabama

Individuals who are new to Alabama and do not lease their vehicle (a vehicle that is owned or is being paid off via car loan), need to appear at the county leasing office and present:

  • The vehicle’s title
    • All owners of the vehicles must appear on the vehicle’s title or present a power of attorney for the owners who are not present.
  • The current out-of-state vehicle registration
  • A complete vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection

Drivers will need to pay all applicable fees (see “Vehicle Registration Fees” below). For more information please visit the Alabama Department of Revenue.

Registering a Leased Out-of-State Vehicle in Alabama

Individuals who want to register a leased vehicle (a vehicle the individual does not own) must visit the county licensing office. The steps an individual needs to take depends on if the individual is in possession of the title or the leasing company has the title.

For specific information regarding leasing a vehicle from out-of-state, individuals can contact their local county leasing office or the Motor Vehicle Division in Alabama at (334) 242-9000.

Registering a Vehicle in Alabama

Alabama residents who purchase a vehicle from a dealership or private party have 20 days after they take ownership of the vehicle to register it.

Vehicles Purchased from an Auto Dealer

Alabama car dealerships can submit the title application when an individual purchases a vehicle. Individuals are required to have documentation stating when the vehicle was registered. Individuals can also register their vehicle in person by visiting the county licensing office and presenting:

  • A completed vehicle title
  • If a vehicle title is not required, and only a vehicle registration is provided, individuals must present:        
    • The Bill of Sale showing itemized sales tax information
    • A dealer’s affidavit (if the dealership is located in a different state)
    • A valid VIN/Ownership Documentation Inspection
  • A valid driver’s license issued by the state of Alabama that proves the individual resides in the county where the individual is requesting to register the vehicle.
  • Proof of a valid auto insurance policy (only if the licensing office is not able to confirm the individual’s insurance policy online)
  • Any and all license plates an individual wishes to transfer to the new vehicle
  • An Odometer Disclosure Statement for vehicles that are less than 10 years old
  • Payment for all applicable fees (see “Vehicle Registration Fees” below)

Vehicles Purchased from a Private Party

Individuals who purchase a vehicle from a private party will need to transfer the title and register the vehicle at the time same time. In the state of Alabama, titling fees and taxes are charged along with the vehicle registration fees. To register a vehicle purchased from a private party, individuals must go to the county licensing office and:

  • Submit a completed vehicle title from the previous owner
    • Vehicles that possess out-of-state titles need to have a VIN/Ownership Documentation inspection performed.
  • Alabama residents must bring any and all license plates they wish to transfer to the new vehicle.
  • Provide proof of residency by showing an Alabama driver’s license that shows proof of residency in the county of registration.
  • Submit proof of a valid Alabama auto insurance policy (if the licensing office can’t confirm there is an active insurance policy online).
  • Provide documentation of the most recent registration for the purchased vehicle
  • If the vehicle is less than 10 years old, an odometer reading statement must be provided
  • Pay all applicable fees (see “Vehicle Registration Fees” below)

Registering a Leased Vehicle

Individuals who lease a vehicle must have:

  • The power of attorney form from the leasing company that allows them to register the vehicle
  • A copy of the vehicle lease agreement

Vehicle Registration Fees in Alabama

The fees associated with car registration depend on various factors. Here are the vehicle registration fees for the state of Alabama:

  • Type of vehicle (truck, car, motorcycle, etc.)
  • Vehicle weight
  • Registration renewal month
    • The registration renewal month is based on the first letter of the vehicle owner’s last name. The initial registration fee is pro-rated to reflect the number of months until the vehicle registration is renewed.
  • County surcharges and taxes

To receive an estimate for the vehicle registration fees in a particular situation, individuals can use the Alabama DOR website.

Vehicle Inspections for Registration in Alabama

The state of Alabama does not require its residents to subject their vehicles to emissions inspections to register their vehicles.

Out-of-state vehicles that do not require a title must have a VIN/Ownership Documentation Inspection before the vehicle can be registered in Alabama. This step is required to ensure the VIN is an exact match to the numbers on the out-of-state title.

Registering a Motorcycle in Alabama

Whether individuals purchase a motorcycle from a dealership or private party, the state of Alabama requires this type of transportation to be registered.

Residents New to Alabama

Alabama residents have 30 days after they purchase a motorcycle to register it at the county title and registration office.

Before a motorcycle can be registered with the state of Alabama, individuals must:

  • Apply for an Alabama certificate of title
  • Provide proof of a valid Alabama motorcycle insurance policy

AL residents need to visit their local county and title registration office and submit the following:

  • The motorcycle’s title and current out-of-state registration
  • A completed vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection
  • Payment for all applicable taxes and fees (see fees below)

Registering Leased Motorcycles in Alabama

Individuals who have a leased out-of-state motorcycle are not required to apply for a title before registering the motorcycle in Alabama, as long as:

  • The individual was not issued a title by their previous state of residence, and the physical title is in the lienholder’s possession.
  • The individual is listed as the owner or operator on the motorcycle title.
    • A copy of the motorcycle’s title from the leasing company may be required.
  • There is a lien on file.
    • If there is a lien on file, a copy of the lease agreement may be required.

Alabama residents who meet these qualifications will follow the same steps listed above with the exception of Alabama’s title requirements.

Purchasing a New or Used Motorcycle in Alabama

Individuals who recently purchased a new or used motorcycle have 20 days after the purchase date to register it with the Motor Vehicle Division. Prior to applying for a motorcycle registration, individuals must apply for a title in their name. Sometimes this step can be completed at the same time.

Motorcycles Purchased from a Dealer

Most of the motorcycle dealerships in Alabama handle the titling paperwork. As far as the registration is concerned, the dealership may or may not be able to help with that.

If a motorcycle dealership in Alabama does not handle the registration documentation, individuals will have to handle this matter on their own. Individuals can follow this general guideline to help with registering their motorcycle. AL residents need to go to their local county title and registration office and present:

  • A copy of the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO) or the title
    • Individuals need to make sure an odometer disclosure is recorded.
  • Bill of Sale with itemized sales tax information
  • A copy of the temporary registration issued by the dealer
  • If the motorcycle was purchased in a state other than Alabama, residents of Alabama must submit a dealer’s affidavit.
  • Provide proof of an active Alabama motorcycle insurance policy
  • Get a vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection
  • Pay all fees and taxes

Leased motorcycles require a power of attorney from the current leasing company as well as a copy of the lease agreement.

Motorcycles Purchased from a Private Seller

Motorcycles purchased from a private seller need an Alabama title that’s registered in the new owner’s name.

To register a motorcycle purchased from a private seller, individuals must visit the title and registration office and provide:

  • A completed title that is signed by the seller, and an odometer disclosure is required.
  • Proof of a valid Alabama motorcycle insurance policy
  • Current motorcycle registration
  • Payment for all applicable fees and taxes

Individuals who want to transfer an existing license plate to their new motorcycle must bring the plate at the time of registration and submit it to the MVD.

Motorcycle Registration Taxes and Fees in Alabama

Listed below are the titling and registration fees for motorcycles in the state of Alabama.

  • Title application: $20
    • A commission fee of $1.50 may be added
  • Motorcycle registration:
    • 1 year: $15
  • Vintage motorcycle registration: $10
  • Local county surcharges and taxes: varies according to the county
  • Late registration penalty: $15

Registering a Boat in Alabama

Alabama boat owners may be required to register their boat with the Marine Patrol Division of Alabama and obtain a boat operator’s license.

Vessels That Require Registration in Alabama

The state of Alabama requires the following types of boats to be registered:

  • Boats for hire
  • Sailboats
  • Mechanically propelled vessels

For further clarification regarding Alabama boat registration, individuals can contact the Marine Patrol Division at (334) 517-2950.

Boat Registration Exemptions in Alabama

The Alabama Marine Patrol Division doesn’t require boat registration for vessels that:

  • Have valid temporary certificates of number
  • Are currently registered in a different state (as long as individuals don’t intend on using the vessel longer than 90 consecutive days).
  • Are registered in a different county, temporarily being operated in Alabama.
  • Are owned by a government entity (local, county, state, federal)
  • Is a ship’s lifeboat
  • Is not propelled by machinery (with the exception of sailboats and boats for hire)
  • Are documented as commercial with the U.S. Coast Guard

Boats that are documented as pleasure do not require registration. Also, boat trailers do not require registration.

Alabama Boat Registration and License Fees

Below are the fees associated with operating a boat in the state of Alabama:

  • Class 1 (16 ft): $18
  • Class 2 (16 ft to 26 ft): $23
  • Class 3 (26 ft to 40 ft): $73
  • Class 4 (40 ft or longer): $98

Replacement registration certificate: $3

Vessel transfer fees:

  • With current Alabama registration: $3
  • Without current Alabama registration: $3

Class 5 boating license: $23

  • Application fee: $5

Individuals need to be prepared to pay the additional $2 insurance fee.

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