What Do I Need To Bring To Register My Boat?

There is a 72 hour grace period for the registration of a new boat. If you purchased a used boat that is currently registered in Alabama, you must make application for transfer within 15 calendar days of purchase.

All vessels manufactured after 1972 are required by federal law to have a hull identification number affixed to the vessel by the manufacturer.  This 12 digit number is normally located on the outside stern of the vessel on the right side, below the gunwale.  This number must be included on the registration certificate and application for registration.


  1. Any vessel constructed after December 31, 2023 (some exclusions apply)
  2. Any vessel for which Alabama is the state of principle use on or after January 1, 2024.
  3. Any vessel that is less than 18 feet in length is only titled if it is propelled by an engine of 75 horsepower or greater (includes: sailboats, paddleboats, and rowboats).

The owner of a vessel that is 26 feet or more in length and to which Alabama is the state principle use on or after January 1, 2024 may voluntarily apply for a certificate of title regardless of when the vessel was constructed. This will require the HIN to be inspected on the vessel.

When registering a boat for the first time in your name, sales tax applies to the purchase price at the same local rates as applies to vehicles. Sales tax must be paid in your county of residence or the county in which your boat is domiciled (ie: lake house). A marina or storage facility is not an acceptable address for registration purposes.

What do I need to bring to register a new vessel?

  • Title Application and Bill of Sale from a licensed dealership; with the complete description of the vessel including the HIN, year, make and model serial number of the motor, horse power of the motor. It must include the amount paid for the vehicle, the date of sale, the name, address and signature of both buyer and seller. Sales tax must be itemized

What do I need to bring to register a vessel purchased from an individual in Alabama?

  • Bill of Sale that includes: (with seller’s signature notarized; and complete description of the vessel including the HIN, year, make and model, serial number of the motor and horse power of the motor. It must include the amount paid for the vessel, the date of sale, the name, address and signature of both buyer and seller).For sales tax purposes, if a bill of sale declares “other valuable considerations” each consideration must be itemized on the bill of sale and have a value assigned.
    Additionally, the person(s) seeking to register the boat will be required to prove ownership by providing supporting documents such as a registration in the previous owner’s name, a previously issued proof of insurance for the vessel in the previous owner’s name or other supporting documents of ownership by the previous owner.
  • The most recent registration certificate from the individual from whom you are purchasing the vessel.

What do I need to bring to register a homemade vessel?

  • Homemade boats are required to have a hull serial number.  Boat owners registering a homemade vessel shall apply with the Marine Police Division for a hull serial number to affix to the transom of their boat. It is necessary to give the date construction was completed.  There will be a $25.00 inspection fee for any homemade vessel requiring a hull identification number. 
  • Document showing that your vessel has been inspected by the Marine Police, including the state-assigned hull identification number that was assigned to your vessel.
  • Statement prepared by owner stating that the vessel is homemade, the amount that was spent to build the vessel, the approximate date of completion, and the owner’s signature and current address.

FAQ Vessel/More Information

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This information provided by the Shelby County License Department is the most current and thorough information available to help expedite your transaction. The license department regards every transaction as unique however we have only addressed the most common types of transactions and provided you the basic information to assist you with the documents needed before your visit to our license offices. Since every situation cannot be foreseen we encourage you to include any additional documentation you may deem pertinent to your transaction. For your convenience we also encourage you to use the printable checklists that are available within the text.