FAQ - Registration
How are my vehicle taxes calculated?
Where do I go to register my motor vehicle in Alabama?
- Motor vehicles are registered through the offices of county license plate issuing officials in the county in which the owner resides. If the owner is a firm, corporation, or an association, the motor vehicle is registered in the county in which the motor vehicle is used or operated.
- Trucks and truck tractors operating to points outside the State of Alabama are registered through the Department of Revenue, Motor Vehicle Division, Motor Carrier Services Unit.
- Motor vehicles owned by the State, a county, municipality, public utility department, or volunteer fire departments are registered through the Department of Revenue, Motor Vehicle Division, Registration Section.
What are the prerequisites for registering a vehicle in Alabama?
- For any motor vehicle requiring a certificate of title, the vehicle owner must first apply for an Alabama certificate of title through a designated agent of the Alabama Department of Revenue.
- When a certificate of title is not required, only a registration is issued. The county licensing official or their appointed deputy is required to inspect the vehicle prior to issuing a registration each time there is a change in ownership of the vehicle. An inspection is not required for a registration renewal.
- The motor vehicle must be covered by a liability insurance policy prior to registration. Beginning January 1, 2013, license plate issuing officials will attempt to verify liability insurance utilizing the State of Alabama Online Insurance Verification System (OIVS) when issuing or renewing vehicle registrations. If insurance cannot be verified through OIVS, vehicle owners must provide evidence of insurance to the license plate issuing official. The insurance card is the most common evidence of current insurance.
- After these prerequisites are met, the licensing official will collect the necessary fees and taxes and issue a license plate. When registering trucks and truck tractors with gross vehicle weight of 55,000 lbs or more, the registrant must provide proof of payment of the federal heavy vehicle use tax before the registration can be issued. This tax is paid to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and a Form 2290 is received as receipt of payment.
- The vehicle owner has twenty (20) calendar days from the date of vehicle purchase or acquisition to register the vehicle without penalty or interest charges applying. If the 20th day falls on a Sunday, a legal holiday, or a day on which the licensing official’s office is closed, the next succeeding working day shall be counted as the last day.
Is the registrant required to prove that he/she has liability insurance when registering a motor vehicle?
- Yes, beginning January 1, 2013, license plate issuing officials will attempt to verify liability insurance utilizing the State of Alabama Online Insurance Verification System (OIVS) when issuing or renewing vehicle registrations. If insurance cannot be verified through OIVS, vehicle owners must provide evidence of insurance to the license plate issuing official. The insurance card is the most common evidence of current insurance.
Are emissions testing a prerequisite to registration?
- No. Alabama law does not provide for emissions testing of motor vehicles.
In what months are license plates renewed?
- Alabama registers vehicles under a staggered registration system, January through November, based on the first letter of the owner’s last name. Motor vehicle registrations expire on the last day of the designated renewal month. For example, someone whose last name begins with the letter F, G, or N is required to register his/her vehicle in the month of April, and the previous registration expires on April 30. Leased, commercial and fleet vehicles are subject to renewal in the months of October and November and the registrations for these types of vehicles expire on November 30. Vehicles registered pursuant to the International Registration Plan (IRP) are assigned renewal registration months by the Department. You can view the schedule here.
Do all counties mail registration renewal notices?
- No. While many counties have received authorization through the Legislature to mail renewal notices, many counties do not mail the notices. It is important to note that failure to receive a renewal notice does not relieve a vehicle owner from timely renewing the vehicle’s registration.
I have moved within Shelby County and want to ensure that my renewal notice is received at my new address. What do I need to do?
- If you have moved within Shelby County in the last 12 months you can now update your address by emailing your info to firstname.lastname@example.org . You must scan a copy of your proof of residence and send along with owners name(s) and corresponding vehicle tag number(s). (If you have more than one vehicle in your name include tag numbers for all vehicles you wish to update). Any of the following documents are acceptable: Current utility bill (ex: landline, gas or power), deed, lease or mortgage statement. The document must clearly show the current owner and that owner should match one of the owners of the vehicle(s). Once your address is updated you will receive a confirmation email. If it is your renewal month please wait for confirmation email before renewing. Due to variances in municipal taxes there may be a change in your total.
- You may also update your information in person by bringing your proof of residency documents to any of our office locations.
I just acquired a vehicle. How many days do I have to title and register this vehicle?
- Alabama law provides that any person acquiring a new or used motor vehicle shall obtain a license plate within twenty (20) calendar days from the date of acquisition. In order to register a vehicle subject to the Alabama title law, a title application must be completed before a registration can be processed. When a certificate of title is not required, only a registration is issued. A designated agent or their appointed deputy is required to inspect the vehicle prior to issuing a registration.
I just moved to Alabama. How long do I have before I must register my vehicle?
- Section 40-12-262, Code of Alabama, provides that the owner of a non-commercial vehicle which has a valid registration from another jurisdiction has thirty (30) days from the date the vehicle enters the state to register the vehicle.
If I purchase a vehicle that has not been registered 12 months, is there a penalty when I come in to register?
- There is no penalty for late registration; however you must register within the 20 days of sell date. Be aware that tag fee and delinquent taxes will be due. The maximum amount of back taxes and interest that would be charged is 2 years. (40-12-253)
In which situations does the State of Alabama charge a delinquent penalty for the registration of a motor vehicle?
- A penalty of $15.00 plus interest is assessed for anyone who:
- is delinquent in registering newly acquired vehicles.
- fails to timely transfer a valid license plate to a newly acquired vehicle.
- fails to renew in their designated renewal month.
- moves to Alabama and fails to register their vehicle in Alabama within thirty (30) days from the date they enter the state.
I am military member stationed in Alabama. Am I required to title and register my vehicle in Alabama?
- Military members whose vehicles are titled and registered in their legal jurisdictions of residency may maintain their valid out-of-state registration while they are stationed in Alabama. However, they may choose to title and register their vehicle in Alabama while they are stationed in this state.
When I sell or otherwise dispose of my vehicle, does the license plate remain on the vehicle?
- License plates are to be removed by the registrant upon sale or disposal of the vehicle. If a new vehicle is acquired, you may be able to transfer your license plate to the new vehicle. Please contact the Shelby County License Department for more information.
If I move out of Alabama and register my vehicle in another jurisdiction, am I required to return the license plate to the State of Alabama?
- No. Alabama law provides that no refund may be granted for the unused portion of registration fees. Due to this requirement, registrants are not required to surrender Alabama license plates when they move to another jurisdiction.
What is the fee to transfer a license plate?
- The state transfer fee is $1.25. Additionally, a number of Alabama counties have imposed local issuance fees.
Does Alabama law require the vehicle operator to retain registration documents within the vehicle?
- Yes. Section 40-12-260, Code of Alabama 1975, provides that the vehicle owner shall retain the Motor Vehicle Registration Tag and Tax Receipt within the vehicle for possible presentation to law enforcement. The fine for failure to provide evidence of current registration to a law enforcement officer is a minimum of $50.
If someone trades vehicles, he/she is required to retain within the vehicle a copy of the title application, bill of sale, or a temporary tag prior to transferring the registration.
How do I obtain a personalized license plate?
- The requestor may search and reserve a personalized message on www.revenue.alabama.gov/motorvehicle to determine if the requested letters and/or numbers are available for issuance. If available, take your selection to your local Shelby County License office and the issuing official will collect the appropriate registration fees and taxes and issue a registration receipt, a sixty (60) day temporary license plate, and month and year decals to be placed on the new license plate. The license plate will be shipped from the manufacturing facility to the registrant (usually within 4-6 weeks).
The fee to reserve a personalized license plate online is $2.00 and is charged to the requestor’s credit card. Once the message has been approved by the Department, the requestor has five (5) business days to visit the county license plate issuing official’s office to place an order and pay all required fees. If the requestor fails to register the message within the prescribed timeframe, the message becomes available to the general public. If the Department rejects the personalized message request, the $2.00 reservation fee will not be charged to the credit card.
What is the fee for a personalized license plate?
- The registrant is subject to payment of the standard registration fees based on the vehicle type, plus an annual additional fee. Click here to view registration fees for the various Alabama license plates. Images of Alabama license plates may be viewed by selecting a license plate category under the "License Plate Information" menu.
What types of vehicles are permitted to display distinctive and personalized license plates?
- Alabama law authorizes the issuance of distinctive and personalized license plates to automobiles and pickup trucks with a gross vehicle weight not to exceed 12,000 lbs., and, in many cases, motor homes. It is important to note that military plates and license plates with the International Symbol of Access are restricted to pickup trucks with a gross vehicle weight not to exceed 8,000 lbs.
Are all distinctive license plates available to the general public?
- No. Some plates are available only to members of a particular organization.
How do I obtain disability access parking credentials?
- A person with disabilities may obtain an application form from the license plate issuing official or download the form here. The application form is to be completed by a licensed physician wherein the physician certifies that the individual meets one or more of the federal criteria listed on the form to obtain disability access parking credentials.
In order to obtain the disability access license plates, the vehicle (or vehicles) must be fully or partially owned by the person with the disability. It should be noted that to qualify for disability access parking credentials, the disability must be a mobility disability (the applicant must have problems in walking). There is no limit on the number of license plates that may be obtained. Anyone obtaining the disability access license plate may obtain only one (1) placard; anyone who does not obtain the license plate may qualify for two (2) placards. Temporary placards are available upon certification by the physician, using the application form, that the disability meets the federal criteria and is temporary. The maximum length of time for a temporary parking placard under federal law is six (6) months.
I purchased a vehicle overseas and will be shipping it to the United States. How do I title and register the vehicle in Alabama?
- If you are a legal resident of Alabama, you must bring the vehicle to the county licensing official’s office in the county in which you reside. The licensing official must inspect the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the vehicle.
You must also provide the licensing official with the Manufacturer's Statement of Origin (MSO)/foreign title document (or a copy of the title, if there is a lien holder), a copy of the current vehicle registration, and a bill of sale. Depending on the vehicle type, the county official may require additional documentation (i.e., EPA and DOT certification letters). The cost of an Alabama title is $15, plus a $3 fee due to the county licensing official. Once the Alabama title has been issued (if required), you will be able to register the vehicle.
The cost of a standard passenger license plate is $23, plus $1.25 issuance fee. Local fees, ad valorem tax, and sales tax may be added to this amount by the county licensing official’s office.
Do I need to remove the name of a deceased owner from the title?
- Yes. A deceased owner’s name should be removed before the next registration. Please contact license office for instructions.
Does my utility trailer require a tag?
- Yes, if it is going to be used on the roads it is required to be registered and tagged. To qualify as a utility trailer it must be bumper pulled and towing vehicle cannot exceed 12,000 lbs.