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Paperwork When Buying a Car in Alabama

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When you purchase a vehicle in Alabama, you'll need to receive the required paperwork from the seller in order to complete the titling and registration process.

Use this guide to learn more about what paperwork the Alabama Department of Revenue (DOR) requires following the purchase of a vehicle.

Paperwork for Alabama Car Buyers

The paperwork you'll need for buying a car in Alabama differs based on whether you're buying a car from a dealership or a private seller.

When you purchase a vehicle from an Alabama dealership, they will usually handle all the necessary paperwork required for titling.

For cars purchased from a private seller, the following documents will be needed in order to title and register your vehicle at your Alabama county title and registration office:

  • A bill of sale.
    • Each Alabama county has slightly different rules regarding the bill of sale, including whether or not it needs to be notarized.
    • Check with your individual county title and registration office for more information.
  • A certificate of title, that includes:
    • Both the buyer and seller's signatures.
      • Some Alabama counties may also require notarization of the title.
    • The purchase price.
    • A current odometer disclosure written in the space provided.
      • If there is no space on the title, Alabama law will require you to fill out a separate odometer disclosure statement that includes the mileage.

For more information on titling, please visit our Alabama Title Transfers page.

Missing Titles

If the seller does not have a title, he or she will need to apply for an Alabama title by completing an Application for Replacement Title (Form MVT-12-1). Never agree to purchase a vehicle without a title. It is the owner's responsibility to receive a new title before the sale is made.

Bill of Sale

Depending on your county, you may or may not need to produce a notarized bill of sale in order to register your new vehicle.

The bill of sale must contain the following information:

  • The names, addresses, and signatures of the buyer and seller.
  • The sale date.
  • A description of the vehicle, including its:
    • Vehicle identification number (VIN).
    • Make.
    • Model or series number.
    • Body type.
  • The purchase price.

In addition, some Alabama counties may require the Bill of Sale to be notarized. Check with the county title and registration office in your area for more information.

AL Vehicle Registration Paperwork

When you purchase a vehicle in Alabama, you will have 20 days to title and register it with the MVD.

Here are the documents you'll need:

  • The current title for the vehicle.
  • A bill of sale, if required.
  • An odometer disclosure, if not written on the title.
  • An Application for Certificate of Title to Record or Transfer a Lien (Form MVT 20-1), if there is a lien on the vehicle.
    • You may also need a Power of Attorney (Form MVT 5-13) from the leasing company and a copy of the lease agreement to register a vehicle with a lien.
  • Payment for the fees due.
    • Registration fees in Alabama will vary according to several factors, including:
      • Vehicle weight.
      • Vehicle type (car, truck, motorcycle, etc.)
      • Prorated rate for your renewal month, which is based on the owner's last name.
      • Taxes and surcharge fees charged by your county of residence.
    • Use the Alabama Fee Schedule for a general estimate of fees due.

Emissions or smog certificates are not required to register your car in Alabama.

Registering Out-of-State Vehicles

In addition to the documents above, the following may also be required when you register an out-of-state vehicle:

  • A certificate of vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection.
    • Usually handled at your county licensing office at the time of registration.
  • A Motor Vehicle Affidavit (Form MV IRP-15), IF you can't show proof of residency.
  • A dealer's affidavit, IF your vehicle was purchased from an out-of-state dealership.
    • You should have this paperwork from the dealer when you purchased the car.
  • A Certificate of Exemption (Form EX-1), IF sales or use tax on your vehicle was paid in your previous state.

Safety Tips for Buying a Car in Alabama

Buying a car is a big investment, and though many sellers are honest about the condition of their vehicle, you can never be too careful.

Here's what you can do to protect yourself from fraud:

  • Make sure the seller of the vehicle matches the name on the title.
  • Always get the car inspected by a mechanic before you decide to purchase it.
  • Order a vehicle history report.

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