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FAQ - Titles

Title (Ownership) FAQ's

(An alteration of any kind on a title voids the assignment. Liquid paper voids the entire title and a replacement title must be issued.)

NOTE: IN ALL CASES If there are two owners and their names are joined by "and,” both owners must be present to sign the title application or one has to send an original notarized Power of Attorney. If there are two owners with no connecting word, it is considered "and." If names are joined by "or," only one owner is needed to register the vehicle. Each owner reflected on the vehicle title must present a valid government issued driver's license or non driver's ID.

This information is only a summary of title and registration procedures and not intended to be a complete explanation of Act 200-565.

ALSO NOTE:  If the vehicle owner has a name change, the name must be updated on the driver’s license/ID AND the vehicle title. Updating your driver’s license does not change the name on your vehicle title. The title must be presented to the licensing official to update the name. 

The 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 on our "what to bring" pages.


What year model motor vehicles does the State of Alabama title?

  • Every motor vehicle not more than 35 model years old which is domiciled in Alabama and is required to be registered in Alabama is required to have an Alabama certificate of title. Travel trailers and folding and collapsible camping trailers not more than 20 model years old also are required to have an Alabama certificate of title. Manufactured homes not more than 20 model years old are also required to be titled.

DEFINITIONS: The term motor vehicle shall include every automobile, motorcycle, mobile trailer, semitrailer, truck, truck tractor, trailer and other device that is self-propelled or drawn, in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a public highway except such as is moved by animal power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks. Every trailer coach and travel trailer manufactured upon a chassis or undercarriage as an integral part thereof drawn by a self-propelled vehicle.

EXCLUSIONS: No Alabama certificate of title shall be obtained for:

  • (a) A motor vehicle more than 35 model years old or trailer more than 20 model years old.
  • (b) A vehicle owned by the United States or any agency thereof.
  • (c) A vehicle owned by a manufacturer or dealer and held for sale, even though incidentally moved on the highway or used for the purpose of testing or demonstration, or a vehicle used by a manufacturer solely for testing.
  • (d) A vehicle owned by a non-resident of Alabama and not required by law to be registered in Alabama.
  • (e) A vehicle moved solely by animal power.
  • (f) An implement of husbandry.
  • (g) Special mobile equipment.
  • (h) A pole trailer.
  • (i) ATVs.
  • (j) Snowmobiles.
  • (k) Off road vehicles.
  • (l) Junked vehicles.
  • (m) Boats.
  • (n )Mobile homes, travel trailers, and mobile trailers designated 1989 year models and prior year models.
  • (o) Utility trailers. A utility trailer is a vehicle without motive power designed to be drawn by a passenger car or pickup truck.
  • (p) A folding or collapsible camping trailer more than 20 model years old.
  • (q) A vehicle for which the Alabama license plate issuing official has verified that the current owner or operator is recorded as the owner or operator on a currently effective certificate of title issued by another state and the certificate of title is being held by the recorded lienholder.

Where do I apply for an Alabama certificate of title?

  • Applications for Alabama certificate of title must be made through a Designated Agent of the Alabama Department of Revenue. Designated Agents include: County License Plate Issuing Officials, all licensed Alabama motor vehicle dealers, and some financial institutions located in Alabama such as banks and credit unions. An application for replacement title can be submitted directly to the Alabama Department of Revenue by the recorded owner(s) or lienholder.

What does it cost to make application for Alabama certificate of title?

  • The title application fee is $15.00 for each application for Alabama certificate of title for a motor vehicle. The title application fee is $20.00 for each application for Alabama certificate of title for a manufactured home. Designated agents shall add the sum of $1.50 as the commission for each application processed. County License Plate Issuing Officials may also collect an additional $1.50 commission for each application processed to defray the cost of processing and mailing title applications. Certain counties may also have local fees which are due when an application for title is processed by that County License Plate Issuing Official. Shelby County charges $18.00 for a motor vehicle title and $23.00 for a manufactured home title.

What documents will I need to make application for Alabama certificate of title?

  • An applicant for Alabama certificate of title must surrender the following documents to the designated agent in order to complete an application for Alabama certificate of title: (a) the outstanding manufacturer's certificate of origin or certificate of title that is either in the applicant's name or assigned to the applicant and any documents which support the transfer of the vehicle to the applicant; (b) if the vehicle is currently registered in a jurisdiction which does not title such vehicles, the applicant must surrender the outstanding registration documents which substantiate ownership of the vehicle. Additional documentation may be required if it cannot be determined whether the vehicle meets federal and state safety, emissions and anti-theft standards.

How long does it take to receive an Alabama title?

My lienholder is currently holding an out of state certificate of title to my vehicle. How can I apply for Alabama certificate of title when I do not have the outstanding certificate of title to surrender?

  • No certificate of title shall be issued for a vehicle for which the Alabama license plate issuing official has verified that the current owner or operator is listed on a currently effective certificate of title issued by another state and the certificate of title is held by a recorded lienholder. A vehicle normally subject to the Alabama title law would be required to register without obtaining an Alabama certificate of title first if all of the following requirements are met:
    • The registrant is listed as the owner or operator on the out-of-state title.
    • There is a lien recorded on the out-of-state certificate of title.
    • The title is being physically held by the lienholder and the title was not issued by one of the states listed below.
  • The vehicle’s owner must provide to the county licensing official a copy of the certificate of title or a print out of the title record from the state if it issues the title in electronic format. The following is a list of states that sends the valid original title to the owner and not to the lienholder. Applicants from these states must surrender the out-of-state title to the license plate issuing official and their vehicles will be required to be titled in the State of Alabama:
    • Kentucky
    • Maryland
    • Michigan (unless owner authorizes title to be mailed to lienholder)
    • Minnesota
    • Missouri
    • Montana (unless owner authorizes the mailing with signature)
    • New Jersey
    • New York
    • Oklahoma
    • South Dakota (unless owner indicates that title is to be mailed to lienholder)
    • Wisconsin
    • Wyoming (title may be mailed to either the owner or lienholder as requested)
  • If the owner has requested that a Michigan, Montana, South Dakota or Wyoming title be mailed to the lienholder, the owner must provide documentation from that state that title was mailed to the lienholder in order to be exempt from titling the vehicle in the State of Alabama.

How do I apply for a replacement title?

  • An application for replacement title can be submitted directly to the Alabama Department of Revenue by the recorded owner(s) or lienholder. The application fee is $15.00, non-refundable. In addition, an application for replacement title can be processed by any designated agent. There is an additional $3.00 charge if processed by Shelby County.

I satisfied the lien on my vehicle and received the Alabama certificate of title with the lien released on the certificate of title. However, I subsequently lost the title. Why do I need a lien release in order to apply for a replacement Alabama certificate of title?

  • At the time that the lien was released the Department was not notified of this fact. Therefore, when the Alabama certificate of title was lost so was the lien release.

What documents do you need to register a vehicle 35 years or older with no title?

  • Bill of Sale from licensed dealership or Bill of Sale with seller's notarized signature, last registration receipt, insurance information and owner(s) valid driver’s license

If I purchase a motor vehicle that is NOT subject to titling, does it have to be physically inspected?

  • Yes, unless it has been registered in Alabama during the current or previous two calendar years

Does my motorcycle require a title?

  • To be titled in Alabama the motorcycle must be a minimum of 50CC”s and meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. That will be signified by a FMVSS sticker, usually under the seat of the bike

Does my Motorhome require a title?

  • Yes

Does my boat require a title?

  • No

Does my utility trailer require a title?

  • No

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.

How do I apply for a title for an abandoned motor vehicle?

  • To obtain title to an abandoned motor vehicle you must complete the following forms.

1. MVT 38-1 REPORT OF UNCLAIMED VEHICLE

2. MVT 32-13 ABONDONED MOTOR VEHICLE RECORD REQUEST

3. MVT 32-13B ABANDONED MOTOR VEHICLE BILL OF SALE

After completing the procedure outlined on these forms, you must bring the completed forms to the Shelby County license office to apply for title.

    • WE MUST HAVE:
  • Outstanding title if available ; form MVT 38-1 or affidavit from seller
  • Notarized “Bill of Sale” (MVT 32-13B)
  • Original, certified Abandoned Motor Vehicle Record Request Response statement completed by the Department of Revenue title section signed in blue ink. This form will verify the current owner(s) and/or lienholder.

Shelby County, Alabama
200 West College St.
Columbiana, AL 35051
Ph: (205) 670-6550