Register Car in Alabama
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If you’ve registered your vehicle before, and simply need to know how to renew the registration, please visit Registration Renewals.
If this is your first time registering the vehicle, it generally means:
- You’ve just purchased the vehicle
- You’re transferring vehicle ownership
- You’re new to Alabama
You have 20 calendar days from the day you purchased the vehicle to register it; however, if you’ve just moved to the state, you have 30 days.
You must properly insure your vehicle in order to legally operate it. You cannot register your car without proof of auto insurance.
Visit our Insurance Center to learn about minimum coverage requirements and acceptable alternatives, and then shop for an affordable rate.
If you purchased the vehicle from a dealership, it’s likely your dealer handled the titling and registration paperwork for you.
However, if you purchased the vehicle through a private sale, are transferring the vehicle’s ownership, or have just moved to the state, you must handle the paperwork yourself. Because you’ll handle the title and registration at the same time, basic registration paperwork is actually the same paperwork involved with the titling process.
- Locate the vehicle’s title, and make sure it’s properly completed and signed over to you. Or, if you purchased from a dealer, have the manufacturer's Certificate of Origin.
- Find your notarized Bill of Sale.
- Provide proof of auto insurance.
- Gather any legal documents that support the reason for the title transfer and new registration, such as the state’s Form MVT-5-6 in the case of transferring and registering after the original owner’s death.
- Make sure you have proof of identity in the form of your driver’s license or state-issued ID number.
NOTE: If you’re new to the state, call the title and tag office for your area to find out exactly what documents they require.
If you haven’t bought a vehicle yet, keep in mind a Vehicle History Report is a solid source of information about the vehicle you’re considering.
Vehicle registration costs $23; however, you may be subject to prorated amounts, and you’ll definitely need to cover the costs of titling the vehicle if you handle both processes at the same time.
First-time registration fees usually include titling fees, and may even include a $15 penalty fee if you don’t register the vehicle on time according to your situation.
Too, if you already have a tag and want to transfer it your new vehicle, you must pay $1.25, plus local fees of $5 or more.
If you lose your registration information or your tag becomes lost, damaged, or stolen, you can always order duplicates. Replacing registration information is free, but replacing a lost tag costs $2.
The type of tag you choose will also determine additional annual registration fees. See below for details.
Head to your nearest title and tag office to register your vehicle.
A vehicle inspection is a prerequisite for titling your vehicle, and because you must either title your vehicle before you register it, or title and register it at the same time, a vehicle inspection precedes everything else.
Don’t worry about finding someone to inspect your vehicle; a designated agent at the title and tag office will handle it.
If you already have an Alabama tag you want to transfer to your new vehicle, you can do so for $1.25 plus any local fees; otherwise, you’ll get a new tag.
The registration fee is $23, but you can choose personalized and specialty plates for additional annual fees. (Check the fee schedule for exact numbers.) You can also showcase any tag in a special frame.
An agent at your title and tag office will usually affix the two stickers (one for the registration and one for the renewal month) on either side of the tag before you receive it. If you receive your tag and neither sticker is affixed, follow the instructions included or contact your title and tag office.
If you paid a sales tax on your vehicle, you may be eligible for a tax deduction once tax season rolls around. There may be certain stipulations (for example, if you paid a tax higher than the amount of the general sales tax, you may only be able to deduct the amount of the general sales tax), so be sure to brush up on Chapter 22 of the IRS’s Publication 17, and contact a tax attorney with any questions.
Once your vehicle is registered and you’re ready to hit the roads, make sure you’re as prepared as possible for emergencies.
For example, having a car emergency kit handy may help you deal with minor situations, but you can also look into a road-side assistance program that will help you in the event your vehicle breaks down, as well as will after-market auto warranties available for your vehicle and knowing a skilled auto mechanic who can handle your problems once you roll into the shop.
Of course, preparing for emergencies also means taking precautions to avoid emergencies, so activate your hands-free headset if you’re expecting a call, and make sure your child is buckled in to an approved child safety seat before you leave your driveway.
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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