Alabama Motor Vehicle Registration and Title

Getting your car registered with the state of Alabame is simple and is quite similar to the same motor vehicle registration process other states require. Below are a few of the more commonly asked questions with regards to Alabama Motor Vehicle registration process.

All of this information can be found on their website located at http://www.ador.state.al.us/motorvehicle/index.html . Alabama Motor Vehicle Title forms can be found here http://www.revenue.alabama.gov/motorvehicle/TitleForms.html and downloadable forms for Motor Vehicle Registration can be found here http://www.revenue.alabama.gov/motorvehicle/RegistrationForms.html . Your Alabama DMV Offices can be found here /dmv/Alabama-DMV.html

Where do I go to register my motor vehicle in Alabama?

Motor vehicles are registered through the offices of county license plate issuing officials.  Trucks and truck tractors operating to points outside the State of Alabama are registered through the Department of Revenue, Motor Vehicle Division, Motor Carrier Services Section.

Motor vehicles owned by the State, a county, municipality, public utility department, or volunteer fire department are registered through the Department of Revenue, Motor Vehicle Division, Vehicle Services Section.

What are the prerequisites for registering a vehicle in Alabama?

For any motor vehicle requiring a certificate of title, the vehicle owner must apply for an Alabama certificate of title.  Title applications are completed through designated agents of the Alabama Department of Revenue.  The title fee is $15 plus any other commissions due the designated agents.

Vehicles being titled, for the first time in Alabama must be inspected by the designated agent before the title application can be completed.

After the inspection, the license plate issuing official will collect the necessary fees and taxes and issue a license plate.  The following link displays registration fees for the various Alabama license plates, www.revenue.alabama.gov/motorvehicle/mvforms/FeeSchedule.pdf. Additionally, the following link will display Alabama license plates, www.revenue.alabama.gov/motorvehicle/index.html.

When registering trucks and truck tractors with gross vehicle weight of 55,000 lbs or more, the registrant must provide proof of payment of the federal heavy vehicle use tax before the registration can be issued.  This tax is paid to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and a Form 2290 is received as receipt of payment.

The vehicle owner has twenty calendar days from the date of vehicle purchase or acquisition to register the vehicle.

Is the registrant required to prove that he/she has liability insurance when registering a motor vehicle?

Alabama law does not require registrants to show proof of insurance prior to registering a vehicle.  Registrants are required, however, to maintain liability insurance by a company licensed to conduct business in Alabama.  Registrants affirm, by signing the registration receipt, that the vehicle being registered is insured.

Is emissions testing a prerequisite to registration?

No.  Alabama law does not provide for emissions testing of motor vehicles.

In what months are license plates renewed?

Alabama registers vehicles under a staggered registration system, January through November, based on the first letter of the owner’s last name.  Motor vehicle registrations expire on the last day of the designated renewal month.  For example, someone whose last name begins with the letter F, G, or N is required to register his/her vehicle in the month of April, and the previous registration expires on April 30.  Leased, commercial and fleet vehicles are subject to renewal in the months of October and November and the registrations for these type of vehicles expire on November 30; provided, vehicles registered pursuant to the International Registration Plan (IRP) are assigned renewal registration months by the Department.

Do all counties mail registration renewal notices?

No. While many counties have received authorization through the Legislature to mail renewal notices, many counties do not mail the notices.  It is important to note that failure to receive a renewal notice does not relieve a vehicle owner from timely renewing the vehicle’s registration.

I have moved from my previous address and want to ensure that my renewal notice is received at my new address.  What do I need to do?

Please contact the county license plate issuing official in your new county and provide them with your address. For a complete listing of county addresses and telephone numbers, please visit the following website: http://www.revenue.alabama.gov/motorvehicle/statemap.html

Which counties in Alabama offer on-line registration renewals?

The following link contains a listing of counties offering on-line registration renewals: http://www.revenue.alabama.gov/motorvehicle/statemap.html

I am a State of Alabama resident and I just acquired a vehicle.  How many days do I have to Title and register this vehicle?

Alabama law provides that any person acquiring a new or used motor vehicle shall within 20 calendar days from the date of acquisition, obtain a license plate.  In order to register a vehicle subject to the Alabama title law, a title application must be completed before a registration can be processed.

I just moved to Alabama.  How long do I have before I must register my  vehicle?

Section 40-12-262, Code of Alabama, provides that the owner of a non-commercial vehicle which has a valid registration from another jurisdiction has thirty (30) days from the date the vehicle enters the state to register the vehicle.

I am in the military and will be moving to Alabama and I want to register my vehicle is Alabama.  What do I need to do?

First of all, you must title the vehicle in Alabama.  A registrant may apply for the title by mail by completing a Department of Revenue Form MVT 5-9 (Supporting Documentation to a Mail Order Application for Certificate of Title).  This form may be downloaded at the following website: http://www.revenue.alabama.gov/motorvehicle/TitleForms.html

Once the title paperwork is completed, it must be mailed to the county license plate issuing official’s office of the county of residency.  The state registration fee for a private passenger vehicle is $23 with a $1.25 issuance fee.  In addition, local fees and taxes may apply.

The following link displays the various specialty plates available in Alabama.  The annual additional fee for most plates is $50.  The link is http://www.revenue.alabama.gov/motorvehicle/specialty.html

When I sell or otherwise dispose of my vehicle, does the license plate remain on the vehicle?

Effective January 1, 1998, license plates are to be removed by the registrant upon sale or disposal of the vehicle, for possible transfer to a replacement vehicle.

If I move out of the State of Alabama, and register my vehicle in another jurisdiction, am I required to return the license plate to the State of Alabama?

No. Alabama law provides that no refund may be granted for the unused portion of registration fees.  Due to this requirement, registrants are not required to surrender Alabama license plates when they move to another jurisdiction.

In which situations does the State of Alabama charge a delinquent penalty for the registration of a motor vehicle?

A penalty of $15.00 is assessed for anyone who is:

  • Delinquent in registering newly acquired vehicles.
  • Anyone failing to timely transfer a valid license plate to a newly acquired vehicle.
  • Anyone failing to renew in his or her designated renewal month.
  • Anyone moving to Alabama who fails to register his or her vehicle in Alabama within 30 days from the date they enter the State of Alabama.
  • In addition to penalties being assessed, interest charges accrue on the 21st day after the purchase or acquisition date of the vehicle. 

What is the fee to transfer a license plate?

The state transfer fee is $1.25.  Additionally, a number of Alabama counties have imposed local issuance fees of $5 or more.

Does Alabama law require the vehicle operator to retain registration documents

within the vehicle for possible presentation to law enforcement?

Yes.  Act 96-733, (Code Section 40-12-260) effective January 1, 1998, provides that the vehicle owner shall retain, within the vehicle, the Motor Vehicle Registration Tag and Tax Receipt for possible presentation to law enforcement.  The fine, for failure to provide evidence of current registration to a law enforcement officer, upon conviction is a minimum of $50. 

If someone trades vehicles, he/she is required to retain within the vehicle, prior to transferring the registration, a copy of the title application, or the bill of sale (or a temporary tag if obtained).

How can I title and/or register my golf cart, ATV, or Scooter in Alabama?

  • Before any of the above listed vehicles can be titled or registered, they must meet all federal and state safety, emissions, and anti-theft standards.
  • If the vehicle meets these standards, an application for a certificate of title may be processed.  Once the title has been processed, the county license plate issuing official will issue a registration tag and tax receipt and license plate.  If the vehicle does not meet these standards it is not considered to be “street legal” and therefore, cannot be driven on the public roads or highways of this state. In order to determine if the vehicle meets all federal safety and emissions standards, this information should be listed on the Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (MSO). 

How does one obtain a personalized license plate?

The requestor may search and reserve a personalized message by visiting the following website:  https://www.alabamainteractive.org/dorpt/UserHome.str or by visiting the county license plate issuing official to determine if the requested letters and/or numbers are available for issuance.  If available, the issuing official will collect the appropriate registration fee(s) and taxes, issue a registration receipt, a sixty-day temporary license plate, and month and year decals to be placed on the new license plate.  The license plate will be shipped from the manufacturing facility to the registrant (usually within 4-6 weeks).

The fee to reserve a personalized license plate on-line is $2.00 and is charged to the requestor’s Visa or Mastercard credit card.  Once the message has been approved, the requestor has 5-business days to visit the county license plate issuing official’s office to place an order and pay all required fees.  If the requestor fails to register the message within the prescribed timeframe, the message becomes available to the general public.  If the Department of Revenue rejects the personalized message request, the $2.00 reservation fee will not be charged to the credit card.

What is the fee for a personalized license plate?

The registrant is subject to payment of the standard registration fees based on the vehicle type, plus an annual additional fee.  The annual additional fee for a standard personalized license plate or for a personalized motorcycle license plate is $50.  In addition to these personalized license plates, Alabama offers personalization for many types of distinctive license plates, and the annual additional fee may vary.  The following link contains registration fees and annual additional fees, when applicable, for Alabama license plates: www.revenue.alabama.gov/motorvehicle/mvforms/FeeSchedule.pdf .

What type vehicles are permitted to display distinctive and personalized license plates?

Alabama law authorizes the issuance of distinctive and personalized license plates to automobiles and trucks with a gross vehicle weight not to exceed 10,000 lbs, and, in many cases, motor homes.  It is important to note that military plates and license plates with the International Symbol of Access are restricted to trucks with a gross vehicle weight not to exceed 8,000 lbs.

Are all distinctive license plates available to the general public?

No. Some plates are available to members of sponsoring organizations only.  The following link will provide representations of each plate, www.revenue.alabama.gov/motorvehicle/index.html.  The message under each plate indicates whether the plate can be personalized, how many alphanumeric characters are permitted, and who is permitted to obtain the plates.

How does one obtain disability access parking credentials?

A person with disabilities obtains an application form from the license plate issuing official or it may be downloaded at the following website:  http://www.revenue.alabama.gov/motorvehicle/RegistrationForms.html.  The application form is to be completed by a physician wherein the physician certifies that the individual meets one or more of the federal criteria to obtain disability access parking credentials. 

In order to obtain the disability access license plates, the vehicle (or vehicles) must be fully or partially owned by the person with the disability.  It should be noted that to qualify for disability access parking credentials, the disability must be a mobility disability (the applicant must have problems in walking).  There is no limit on the number of license plates that may be obtained.  Anyone obtaining the disability access license plate may obtain one placard; anyone who does not obtain the license plate may qualify for two placards.  Temporary placards are available upon certification by the physician, using the application form, that the disability meets the federal criteria and is temporary. The maximum length of time for a temporary parking placard under federal law is six months.

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