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If you have recently purchased a vehicle through a dealership or a private seller, you will need to apply for a car registration. All vehicles in your possession must be registered in your name to be driven legally in your state. You cannot typically apply for a new vehicle registration online or by mail. You must visit a DMV office in person to register a car. To make sure that you are fully prepared for the process, download our informative digital guide. Our guide contains everything you need to know to register your vehicle with ease. You will also learn how to replace or renew your car registration, and how to change your name or address.

2. By Mail

Some states allow residents to register cars by mail. However, these applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements, such as temporarily residing out of state or having purchased the vehicle out of state. To obtain your new car registration by mail, you will need to send your completed application and all necessary documents (such as proof of ID, a bill of sale, an insurance card, etc.) to your local DMV office. You will also need to send in a check or money order for the full payment amount. Due to mailing and processing times, delays are common with the mail-in application method. It may take several weeks for you to receive your new car registration.

3. In Person at a DMV Office

In most instances, you will be required to get your car registration in person at a local DMV office. You must submit a filled-out application, proof of your identity, evidence of the car purchase and proof of auto insurance coverage for the vehicle. Additionally, you need to provide payment for all applicable fees, such as registration fees, titling fees and state taxes. Because many car owners are not sure which forms are required or which fees must be paid, application delays are common at the DMV. Additionally, any mistakes on DMV forms will add to your potential wait time for receiving your new registration.


Applying for an Alabama vehicle registration is a mandatory procedure that must be completed by car owners who would like to legally operate their vehicles on state roads. To get a DMV registration, applicants will be required to submit their request through the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) of the state Department of Revenue (DOR). The state DOR offers its registration services through its various motor vehicle offices located in each county.

When registering a car in AL, auto owners will have to meet several types of requirements, which will vary based on factors such as the applicant’s circumstances and the type of vehicle due for registration. During the registration process, motorists will have to submit certain documents and pay varying costs. After being issued this credential, you will need to request a vehicle registration renewal whenever it reaches its expiration date.

Alabama Car Registration Requirements

Before learning how to register a car in Alabama, you must ensure that you and your vehicle fulfill the applicable registration prerequisites, which are subject to change depending on certain factors. The following list outlines the general requirements for a new car registration:

  • You have obtained the mandatory vehicle insurance coverage.
  • You have successfully titled your motor vehicle through the state DOR, and you have obtained the corresponding vehicle ownership document.
  • You have submitted your car to a vehicle identification number (VIN) and ownership paperwork inspection.
  • You have successfully paid the “heavy vehicle use” tax to the federal government, if registering larger vehicles such as trucks.

The time allotted to register a vehicle and pay car registration costs will vary depending on whether you are a new resident who has recently moved to the state or an existing resident who has acquired a new vehicle. If you are a current state resident who has acquired a new or used vehicle, you must obtain new license plates within 20 days from the acquisition date. If you are a new resident with an out-of-state vehicle, on the other hand, you must get vehicle registration documents within a month of your move.

Car Insurance Requirements for Registering a Car in Alabama

One of the main Alabama car registration requirements is proving that you have the corresponding liability insurance on your motor vehicle. You must obtain your auto registration insurance through a licensed insurer for at least the following minimum amounts:

  • $25,000 for property damages
  • $25,000 for the death or injury of one individual
  • $50,000 for deaths and/or injures of all participants in the accident

Note: Certain vehicles, such as trailers or government vehicles, are exempted from the state insurance law.

A DOR agent will check your compliance of the state insurance law through the Alabama Online Insurance Verification System (OIVS). If your vehicle insurance cannot be verified online, you will be required to furnish a valid insurance proof, such as your policy card. In such cases, you will also need official identification proof, such as an AL drivers license.

Vehicle Inspection/Smog Inspection/VIN Inspection Requirements in Alabama

When registering a vehicle in Alabama, car owners may be required to submit their cars to a VIN inspection, depending on their circumstances. For instance, motorists getting a car registration after transferring an out-of-state vehicle will have to bring the vehicle to their county registration office for a VIN inspection. The state DOR also requires an inspection of the vehicle identification number for vehicles exempted from the state titling laws.

To successfully complete this inspection process, AL vehicle registration applicants will need their vehicle ownership document, such as the bill of sale or certificate of origin. The purpose of this VIN verification is checking whether or not the VIN displayed on the vehicle matches the one on the ownership documents.

Note: Alabama does not require you to submit your vehicle to an emissions test.

Registering a Vehicle in Alabama

If you are wondering how to register a vehicle in Alabama, note that you will be required to submit the necessary paperwork and fee payments in person through your county’s DOR licensing official. If you are getting a DMV registration as a representative of a corporation, a firm or another similar legal entity, you will have to submit the necessary items through the registration office in the county where the vehicle will be operated. The process to register a car in AL does not differ greatly depending on whether you are registering a new or a used vehicle.

How to Register a New Car in Alabama

If you need a new car registration in Alabama for a vehicle purchased from a dealership, you may not be required to submit the title application yourself. This option, however, may vary from dealership to dealership and from county to county. For instance, the process to get a car registration may be completed on your behalf by the dealer from whom you have purchased the vehicle. In such cases, the dealer will submit the title and registration application form without your involvement, since your presence is not required at the office.

Registering a Used Car in Alabama

Registering a car in Alabama after purchasing a used vehicle is a procedure that must be completed by the new vehicle owner or his or her designated agent through a power of attorney document. If you are wondering what you need to register a car, check the following list:

  • The corresponding vehicle ownership document, such as:
  • A properly reassigned existing title.
  • A manufacturer’s certificate of origin or a title application filled out for the new car owner.
  • A new vehicle title in the vehicle owner’s name.
  • The properly filled out title application.
  • The lienholder’s information, if a lending institution is involved.
  • The vehicle bill of sale with the details about the vehicle and the sale procedure.
  • Proof of liability insurance, if the DOR agent is unable to verify your compliance electronically.
  • Any additional forms that may apply under your circumstances.
  • Your state-issued ID, such as a photo identification card or a driving license.
  • Proof of payment of the heavy vehicle tax, if applicable.
  • Payment for the applicable licensing fees and ad valorem taxes.

Your county registration official will process your AL vehicle registration application once you submit the full set of documents and pay the registration fees. Note that you can also apply for temporary tags valid for 20 days, which will allow you to legally operate your vehicle until you collect the items necessary for the registration procedure.

How to Register a Car in Alabama as a New Resident

If you would like to get a car registration in Alabama after moving to the state as a new resident, you will need to meet slightly different requirements. You must apply for a new vehicle registration within 30 days of changing states with valid out-of-state registration documents. In such cases, to get an AL auto registration and title, you will need your out-of-state title and registration certificate, proof of Alabama car insurance, an identification document and a bill of sale, if applicable.

Vehicle Registration for Military Members in Alabama

Out-of-state military service members are not required to get an Alabama car registration after moving to the state. Active duty service members serving in Alabama can simply maintain the validity of their out-of-state vehicle registration. However, this group of vehicle owners still has the option of registering a vehicle with the state DOR, which may be more convenient depending on the duration of their stay. Military service members applying for a new auto registration in AL in such situations will have to follow the application steps outlined in the previous sections.

Temporary DMV Registration in Alabama

The DOR also offers an Alabama temporary registration with a 20-day validity period. This temporary registration certificate will allow the vehicle owner to successfully prepare for the titling and registration procedures. For instance, one of the most significant advantages of obtaining a temporary car registration is being able to legally operate the motor vehicle on state roads for a brief period of time, which will allow the car owner to collect the paperwork for a permanent registration or transfer the vehicle to another state. Motorists can get this short-term registration document from designated registration offices, manufacturers or dealers for a minor fee.

Alabama License Plates

After meeting the Alabama car registration requirements, your DOR agent will process your paperwork and fee payment, then issue you the corresponding license plates and stickers. If you apply for standard plates, you will most likely receive them over the counter during the same visit. However, if you choose to get your vehicle registration with certain specialized and/or personalized plates, you may be required to wait for a certain period of time and receive your plates by mail.

Note: You can also choose to transfer your license plates from another vehicle.

Alabama Car Registration Fees

Paying the car registration fees in Alabama is the last step in the registration procedure. Note that the total car registration cost will include various small fees, which may vary depending on numerous factors such as the vehicle type and weight, license plate classification and county of residence. The following list outlines some of the most common AL vehicle registration costs that applicants will be subject to:

  • Title fee: $20
  • Standard plate fee: $15 to $23
  • Personalized plate fee: $50
  • Plate transfer fee: $1.25
  • Temporary license tag: $2.25

Note: Failure to obtain a car registration within the prescribed time period will lead to a $15 late registration fee.

Last updated on Wednesday, November 28 2018.

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