Vehicle owners must apply for an Alabama DMV license plate whenever they purchase a new or used car from a dealership or through a private transaction. In general, these credentials are processed by the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), which is managed by the state Department of Revenue (ADOR). However, the process for obtaining car registration plates varies slightly depending on where drivers purchase their vehicles.

In most cases, car owners must apply for new registration plates in person at a county license plate issuing office. Moreover, drivers must always remember to renew their license plates during a vehicle’s registration renewal period. Furthermore, to learn how to get a license plate for your car, you may review the sections below.

Types of License Plates in Alabama

When choosing among car registration plates in Alabama, vehicle owners have several different options to choose from, including standard plates, disability plates, distinctive plates, collegiate plates and military plates. Drivers who need new registration plates may also choose from the ADOR’s personalized plates, generic race plates or government plates. Moreover, motorists may pick vintage plates for passenger vehicles, trucks or motorcycles. On the other hand, car dealers and vehicle manufacturers must obtain dealer, manufacturer or dealer transit plates from the MVD.

How to Apply for a License Plate in Alabama

In order to apply for new car tags in AL, you must visit your county’s license plate issuing office in person. Conversely, you cannot apply for a new MVD license plate online or by mail. As part of the application process to obtain a license plate, you must apply for a certificate of title, present proof of liability insurance and pay all of the license plate and registration fees established by the MVD.

If you purchase a vehicle from a car dealership, on the other hand, the dealer will generally complete the title application on your behalf. If you want to get a license plate after purchasing a vehicle from a car dealer, you must bring proof of the title application to a license plate issuing office.

Note: You must get your car tags within 20 days of acquiring a new or used vehicle, or within 30 days of moving to the state of Alabama.

How to Renew License Plate Tags in Alabama

The MVD uses a staggered system for a car owner to renew a license plate in Alabama. Overall, this renewal procedure is based on the first letter of the vehicle owner’s last name. In most cases, a motorist must complete the AL car tag renewal process before the last day of the vehicle’s renewal month, between the months of January and November. Specifically, each county is responsible for sending notices to remind drivers of renewing license plate credentials each year. However, not all counties follow this procedure. Furthermore, tag renewal notices are the same as the vehicle registration renewal notices.

As a general rule, it is important to note that license plate renewals vary by county. While certain counties will allow drivers to renew car tags online, many other counties require applicants to undergo this procedure in person or via mail. If you change your address, however, you may only renew your license plates in person, as the issuing office will need to verify your documents regarding proof of residence. Furthermore, when renewing car tags, you must present proof of liability insurance and a valid driver license. If you request a renewal by mail, you must include copies of these documents, along with a payment method for the applicable fees.

How to Replace License Plates in Alabama

A motorist must replace a license plate in Alabama if the tag has sustained a lot of damages or gone missing. To do so, an applicant must complete the appropriate replacement application form and include their name, address, contact information and details pertaining to the vehicle, including the license plate digits and vehicle identification number (VIN). Moreover, when replacing license plate credentials, vehicle owners must submit an application form in person or by mail to their county’s license plate issuing office, along with payment for the applicable replacement fees.

How to Transfer License Plates in Alabama

In general, drivers are required to remove MVD car tags from their vehicles before selling or disposing of a car. On the other hand, vehicle owners may be able to transfer their Alabama car registration plates to their newly-acquired cars if their county allows it. To transfer plates from one vehicle to another, motorists must visit their county’s license plate issuing office to pay the applicable transfer fees. Moreover, you only need to surrender car tags to the MVD if they have sustained enough damages or mutilations and you need to replace them.

Alabama License Plate Fees

When obtaining new car tags in Alabama, be mindful that their fees will vary according to the type of license plate, as well as the vehicle’s type and weight. Standard MVD license plates for vehicles or motorcycles with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of of up to 8,000 pounds cost $23. Furthermore, fees for military plates and specialty vehicles also vary. Personalized plates require motorists to pay an additional $50 fee.

In order to get a car tag for trucks, tractors or motorhomes, the specific fees will vary significantly by weight. For instance, the MVD license plate fee for trucks and motorhomes weighing more than 80,000 pounds is $890. A car owner may incur additional fees if he or she requires car tag replacements or transfers. Note that specialty plates may cost more, depending on what type of plate you order.

License Plate Lookups in Alabama

When applying for new registration plates in Alabama after purchasing a new or used vehicle, you can perform an online license plate lookup to search for details regarding the vehicle’s manufacturer, as well as safety and recall information about that specific car model.

When you perform an MVD car tag lookup, you can also find license plate ownership information, details pertaining to the vehicle identification number (VIN) and the car’s history.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 10 2020.