Boat Registration and Licenses in Alabama
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- Boats for hire, and
- Mechanically propelled vessels
Titles aren't needed for registering watercraft.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources provides a list of vessels exempted from the registration requirements.
You must register a new boat within 72 hours, or register a currently registered used boat within 15 days. Here's how:
- Complete the boat registration form.
- Locate the previous registration and bill of sale. If you do not have a bill of sale, you may, depending on your county, need to provide an affidavit listing the purchase price.
- Have the registration fee ready (see below).
- Go to your local probate judge's office or license commissioner's office.
- Keep the registration certificate on board your vessel, and put the current year decal on an easily noticable spot of the bow.
If you have a receipt showing you paid your sales and use tax, you may also register at the Marine Police Division office in Montgomery. (If you're a dealer, you must register at the Marine Police Division office.)
Note: There is NO grace period if you purchase a used boat with an expired registration. The boat MUST be registered before taking it out on the water.
Your registration fee depends on the length of your boat (measured from the outermost point of the bow to the rearmost point of the stern), as follows:
- Class I: Less than 4.9 meters (16 ft.): $20
- Class II: 4.9 meters (16 ft.) to less than 7.9 meters (26 ft.): $25
- Class III: 7.9 meters (26 ft.) to less than 12.2 meters (40 ft.): $75
- Class IV: 12.2 meters (40 ft.) and longer: $100
NOTE: All listed fees reflect an additional $2 issuance fee.
If the boat was previously registered in AL you'll also need to pay a $3 transfer fee (the fee is waived if you purchased the boat out-of-state).
Registrations are valid for one year. Renew your registration by going to your local probate judge's office or license commissioner's office and paying the renewal fee. Your renewal fee is the same as your original registration fee.
The first letter of your last name determines the month you'll need to renew your registration; the state provides a staggered schedule. (Dealer boats, liveries, and all boats registered under company names need to be renewed in October.)
Replace Lost AL Boat Registration
You can receive a replacement registration certificate by submitting a completed boat registration form along a $5 payment.
Who Needs One
To legally operate a boat in the state, you must be at least 12 years old and have an operator's license. (If you were at least 40 by April 28, 1994, you are exempt from taking a course. Provide proof of your age at an AL driver's license office to receive your boating certificate.)
If you're younger than 14, you must have a currently licensed boat driver in the vessel. That person must be at least 21 years old, and able to take immediate control of the boat, if necessary.
How to Obtain a Boating License
There are several ways to obtain a license:
- Pass a course by an approved third-party provider, such as BoaterExam.com.
- Successfully complete a boating course given by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the U.S. Power Squadron, or the Alabama Marine Police.
- Pass the written boating exam at one of the Department of Public Safety Driver License offices. The test costs $5.
Once you've accomplished any of the above, you'll receive a Class V designation on your license, indicating that you're eligible to drive a boat. Your boat operator license will be renewed whenever you renew your driver's license.
If you don't have a driver's license, you'll receive a vessel license instead. It costs $23 and is valid for four years.
As mentioned above, you can obtain a license by completing a variety of state-approved boating courses. The class hours vary with the provider.
Some providers, allow you to study the course and take the test online. If you pass the test, you'll receive a completion certificate, which you must take to a driver's license office to obtain your boating license.
Other Topics in This Section
- Register Car
- Registration Renewal
- Registration & Insurance
- Replacing a Lost Registration
- RV & Motorhome Registration
- Custom Built Car Registration
- Boat Registration and Licenses
- Title Transfers
- Replacing a Lost Title
- Salvaged Vehicles
- Special Vehicles
- Drivers with Disabilities
- License Plates & Placards
- Smog & Emission Checks
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