First Time Car Registration in Alabama
Summary: How to Register Your Vehicle in Alabama
Alabama requires all vehicles to be registered with your local county registration office. The process is overseen by the Alabama Department of RevenueMotor Vehicle Division. The process differs based on whether you bought your vehicle from a dealer or a private seller. You'll need to have a VIN inspection performed on your car, and the fees to register your vehicle will vary based on your vehicle type, weight, and model year.
This page is for first-time registrations only. If your vehicle is already registered, go to the Registration Renewal page to learn how to maintain your Alabama registration.
1. Before registering your vehicle, you must first apply for an Alabama title.
2. Alabama requires insurance for all vehicles on Alabama roads. You will need to provide proof of Alabama car insurance in order to register your vehicle.
3. RVs and motorhomes are registered the same way as standard cars and trucks; the difference falls in the fees, which vary based on your motorhome's weight. Please see " Alabama Vehicle Registration Fees" below.
New to Alabama?
When you move to Alabama, you must register your vehicle within 30 days. You need an Alabama title and insurance before you can register your car or truck. Once you have a title and insurance, follow the steps below based on whether your vehicle is owned or leased.
Register an Out-of-State Vehicle (Non-Leased)
To register your out-of-state vehicle that you own (i.e. you don't lease it), go to the county licensing office and:
- Submit your vehicle title.
- All vehicle owners on the title must be present or a power of attorney must be presented for the owners who are not present.
- Show your current out-of-state vehicle registration.
- Complete a vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection.
- Pay all the applicable fees (see “Vehicle Registration Fees" below).
Register a Leased Vehicle from Out-of-State
If the vehicle you are bringing into the state is leased, you will need to go to the county licensing office. The steps you will need to take to register a leased vehicle will depend on whether you, or the leasing company, has the title. For information on your specific circumstances please contact you local county leasing office or the Motor Vehicle Division at (334) 242-9000
Find all the information you need to finish your moving requirements with the DMV.
How to Register a Car in Alabama
Residents of Alabama who buy a vehicle, either from a dealership or a private party, must register it within 20 days of taking ownership.
Vehicles Purchased from a Dealer
Car dealerships in Alabama may submit the title application when you purchase the vehicle. You will be required to have documentation of the application when you register the car or truck.
Go to the county licensing office with the following:
- The completed title.
- If a title is not required you must bring and only a registration is issued:
- Bill of sale with itemized sales tax information.
- A dealer's affidavit, if the dealership was in another state.
- A VIN/Ownership Documentation Inspection.
- A valid Alabama driver's license proving residence in the county where you are registering the vehicle.
- Proof of insurance, if the licensing office cannot confirm your insurance online.
- Any license plates you may wish to transfer to the new vehicle.
- An odometer disclosure statement for vehicles less than 10 years old and less than 16,000 lbs.
- Payment for all applicable fees (please see “Vehicle Registration Fees" below).
Vehicles Purchased from a Private Party
Buying a used car from a private party is slightly different than getting one from a dealership. You will be transferring the title at the same time you are registering the vehicle. Titling fees and taxes will be charged along with the Alabama vehicle registration fees.
Go to the county licensing office and:
- Submit a properly completed title from the previous owner.
- Vehicles with out-of-state titles will also need to have a VIN/Ownership Documentation Inspection done.
- Bring your any license plates you wish to transfer them to the new vehicle.
- Show your Alabama driver's license showing proof of residency in the county of registration.
- Submit proof of insurance if the licensing office cannot confirm your insurance online.
- Show the most recent registration documents for the purchased vehicle.
- Record the odometer reading for vehicles less than 10 years old and less than 16,000 lbs.
- Pay all the applicable fees (please see "Vehicle Registration Fees" below).
Register a Leased Vehicle
Leased vehicles are registered in the same way as other vehicles, except you must also bring:
- The power of attorney form from the leasing company allowing you to register the vehicle.
- A copy of the lease agreement for the vehicle.
Military Members & Vehicle Registration
Laws are different for members of the military registering their vehicles in Alabama depending on whether you are from out of state and stationed in AL, an Alabama resident currently in the state, or resident stationed somewhere else.
Non-Resident Military Registration
Members of any of the Armed Forces branches stationed in Alabama are not required to register their vehicle(s) with the Alabama Motor Vehicle Division as long as you have a current registration in your home state and valid insurance.
If you would like to register your vehicle in Alabama, you can do so by following the process outlined above for new Alabama residents.
Resident Military Registration
Alabama residents have the same registration process as civilians. Follow the process above in the “ Registering a Vehicle in Alabama" section.
AL Military Residents Stationed Out of State
If you are stationed outside of Alabama, you may be able to register your vehicle by mail. You will need to contact your county licensing office to find out if they offer this service.
You can also fill out a power of attorney to have a family member in Alabama title and register the vehicle for you. They will need all the information listed in the “Registering a Vehicle in Alabama" section above, along with the power of attorney paperwork.
Alabama Vehicle Registration Fees
Car registration fees depend on a number of factors. Fees for first time registrations are calculated according to:
- Vehicle type (car, truck, motorcycle, etc.).
- Vehicle weight.
- Registration renewal month.
- Renewal month is based upon the first letter of the owner's last name. The initial registration fee will be pro-rated to reflect the number of months until you renew your registration.
- County taxes and surcharges.
You will need to contact your county licensing office to find out how much the registration fees will cost. You can get a general estimate of what they will cost from the Alabama DOR website.
Vehicle Inspections for Registration
Alabama does not require emissions inspections to register your vehicle.
Out-of-state vehicles and vehicles that do not require a title are required to have a VIN/Ownership Documentation inspection before being registered in Alabama. This is done to make sure the vehicle identification number matches the numbers on the out-of-state title.
Alabama License Plates
You will receive your license plates and registration stickers when you complete your Alabama vehicle registration.
There are many different license plates available in Alabama. If you order any sort of specialty or personalized license plates, you may have to wait to get them. Visit the License Plates & Placards in Alabama page for more information on license plates.