Salvaged Vehicles in Alabama

So, your insurance company deemed your car a total loss but you're not ready to turn off the ignition for the last time? Good news! You can follow the Alabama Department of Revenue's (ADOR) steps for applying for a salvage title, getting your rebuilder's license, and passing a vehicle inspection, and you'll have those wheels spinning again in no time.

What Is a Salvaged Car in AL?

Alabama defines a vehicle as “salvage" if:

  • Your insurance company deems it a “total loss" and has paid a monetary settlement as compensation.
    • A “total loss" is when the damage is 75% or more of the fair retail value (or, actual cash value). Your insurance company uses several compilations and databases to determine fair market value, but you can get a general idea of how actual cash value is calculated in the meantime.
  • The vehicle's frame or engine is removed and not immediately replaced.

Junk, Parts Only, and Scrap Vehicles

State law doesn't define “junk," “parts only," and “scrap" vehicles the same as “salvaged vehicles." Those vehicles cannot be rebuilt and retitled in Alabama.

Anyone whose business is in dealing with these vehicles (for example, a business dismantling and/or recycling them) must follow the laws set forth in the Alabama Vehicle Code.

Apply for a Salvage Title

The timeframe to apply for a salvage title depends on who's applying:

  • If you (the owner) are applying for the salvage title, you must do so within 72 hours after it becomes a total loss or salvage.
    • Failing to do so leads to a criminal misdemeanor, if convicted.
  • If the insurance company is keeping the vehicle, it must apply for the salvage title as soon as possible after it receives the vehicle's signed certificate of title or origin.

To apply for a salvaged title, provide the following:

  • A completed Application for Salvage Certificate of Title (Form MVT 41-1). This can be started onlineREAD THE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY; they explain directions specific to who is applying and other situations. For example:
    • If the insurance company deemed the vehicle a total loss and compensated the owner, they must fill out Section B and mark who is applying for the salvage title—the insurance company or the owner (i.e., you).
    • If the vehicle is uninsured or self-insured, you must fill out Section A.
  • Provide the vehicle's title.
    • If you're transferring the vehicle to your insurance company, you must properly sign it over.
  • A lien release, IF a recorded lien on the title has been satisfied.
    • This can be on the title itself or a separate document.
    • If there is an outstanding lien, the title will be mailed to the lienholder even if you provide special mailing instructions.
  • Payment for the $15 application fee, payable to the “Alabama Department of Revenue."

During the online process you will be given information for what to mail and the mailing address. 

DMV.ORG TIP: What is a vehicle lien?

When you obtain a loan to purchase a vehicle, the lender is considered the vehicle's legal owner until you no longer owe money on the loan. Until the loan is paid off, the lender places a “lien" on the car's title; once you pay off the loan, you can remove the lien from your vehicle.

Salvage Title Exemptions

The salvaged title application provides a list of vehicles that are exempt from Alabama titles. If these vehicles already have titles, those stay in effect; however, they DO NOT qualify for salvage titles if ever deemed a total loss.

For example, certain manufactured homes, trailers, and low-speed vehicles. Refer to the application for details.

What to Do with Your Salvage Vehicle

Often, when an insurance company declares a car a salvaged vehicle, the company retains ownership of the car as part of the claim settlement.

However, you can keep the car; if you do, you can either:

  • Sell it to a licensed rebuilder.
  • Rebuild the car yourself. You can do this if:
    • You're a licensed rebuilder.
    • You're able to submit a registration or another document showing you're the owner—and that you owned the vehicle before the salvage title was issued—in lieu of the rebuilder's license.

Note that you:

  • Must rebuild the vehicle to the condition it was in before it became a salvaged vehicle.
  • Must repair the vehicle in Alabama.
  • CANNOT operate the vehicle on highways or other public places until it's repaired and passes inspection.
    • However, you CAN move the vehicle to and from repair locations and to the inspection location, but it must have a valid dealer license affixed to it during this movement.

If you decide to rebuild the vehicle, you must have it inspected. See below for details.

Schedule a Salvaged Vehicle Inspection

Once your rebuilt vehicle is ready for inspection, it's time to apply for one!

You'll need the following:

  • A completed:
  • The original salvage title.
    • Must be assigned to the owner.
  • Bills of sale for:
    • All major parts used during the repair, as well as the manufacturer's vehicle identification number of the original vehicles. These bills of sale must be notarized.
    • All minor parts used during the repair. These bills of sale don't require notarization UNLESS the parts have a manufacturer vehicle identification number.
  • Copies of:
    • The current registration prior to receiving a salvage title.
    • Your state-issued driver identification.
  • Payment for the $90 fee—breakdown is as follows:
    • $75 for the inspection application.
    • $15 for the salvage title application.
      • If you've already applied and paid for your salvage title, contact the DOR for instructions.

Mail all of the above to:

Alabama Department of Revenue
Titles & Vehicle Inspections
P.O. Box 327640
Montgomery, AL 36132

The DOR will let you know when you can come in for your inspection. Once your reconstructed car passes inspection, it will receive a permanent rebuilt identification plate and rebuilt title.

AL Salvage Car Registration

Typically, you can expect a similar—if not the same—registration process for a salvaged vehicle as you would for any other passenger vehicle. Find details at our AL car registration guide and contact the Department of Revenue's Motor Vehicle Division at (334) 242-9000 before heading out to register your salvaged vehicle.


INV 26-15
Application For Inspection of a Salvage Vehicle and Affirmation Supporting Salvage Certificate
Application to have your rebuilt/repaired salvage vehicle inspected by the Alabama Automobile Inspection Unit.
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