Boat Registration and Licenses in Alabama

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Whether you're navigating the Gulf waters or an inland stream, you may need to register your boat with Alabama's Marine Patrol Division AND have a boat operator's license.

Below you'll find all the information needed for registering a boat in Alabama along with the state's policies regarding boating licenses.

Vessels Required to Be Registered

In Alabama, you're required to register the following types of boats:

  • Sailboats.
  • Boats for hire.
  • Mechanically propelled vessels.

If you aren't sure whether your boat qualifies, call the Marine Patrol Division' boat registration number at (334) 517-2930.

AL Boat Registration Exemptions

The Alabama Marine Patrol Division does not require boat registration for a vessel:

  • With valid temporary certificates of number.
  • Currently registered in another state, as long as the vessel won't be in AL for more than 90 consecutive days.
  • Registered in another country, temporarily operating in Alabama.
  • Owned by a government entity (federal, state, county, and local).
  • That is a ship's lifeboat.
  • Not propelled by machinery (excluding sailboats and boats for hire).
  • Documented as commercial with the U.S. Coast Guard.
    • Boats documented for pleasure will need to be registered.

Additionally, Alabama does not require you to register boat trailers.

AL Boat Registration Procedure

After purchasing a vessel, you must register a:

  • New boat within 72 hours of the purchase date.
  • Used boat:
    • With current AL registration: Within 15 days of acquiring it.
    • Without current registration: Anytime before using the boat (there is no grace period).

To register your boat, take the following items to your nearest county probate judge OR license commissioner:

Keep the registration certificate on board your vessel, and put the current year decal on an easily noticeable spot of the bow.

NOTE: 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.

Boat Registration & License Fees

The fees associated with operating your boat are as follows:

  • Registration/renewal fee, which depends on the length of your boat (measured from the outermost point of the bow to the rearmost point of the stern):
    • Class I—16 ft: $18.
    • Class II—16 ft to 26 ft: $23.
    • Class III—26 ft to 40 ft: $73.
    • Class IV—40 ft and longer: $98.
  • Registration certificate replacement fee: $3.
  • Transfer fee for vessels:
    • With current AL registration: $3.
    • Without current registration: $3.
  • Class V boating license: $23.
    • Application fee: $5.

NOTE: There is an additional $2 issuance fee.

Registration Renewals & Replacements

Renew your Alabama boat registration by going:

The 1st letter of your last name determines the month you'll need to renew your registration; refer to the AL Marine Patrol Division' registration renewal schedule for more.

Replace a Lost AL Boat Registration

You can receive a replacement registration certificate by submitting a completed Application for Boat Registration, Transfer & Replacement along with the $3 replacement fee (plus $2 issuance fee) at your local probate judge or license commissioner's office.

Alabama Boater's License

You must be at least 12 years old to apply for a boat operators license in Alabama.

If you complete a boating education course prior to applying for your license, you won't have to take the written/oral boating exam at the time of application.

To apply for your license, visit your local AL driver's license office and:

  • Complete an application for a boat operator's license (available at the driver's license office).
  • Answer questions about your health.
  • Pass the written/oral exam OR present proof you've completed a boating education course.
  • Provide payment for the necessary fees.

If you already have an Alabama driver's license, a Class V designation will be added to your license, indicating 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 Class V boat operator license.

If you are 12 or 13 years old, you must have a currently licensed boat driver in the vessel when operating watercraft. The supervising licensee must be at least 21 years old, and able to take immediate control of the boat, if necessary.

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