The Alabama VIN verification system is used to authenticate new or used cars with missing ownership credentials. As a general rule, a vehicle identification number (VIN) is 17 characters long and must be displayed on the windshield or door of a car at all times. However, it is important to be mindful that vehicles made before 1981 and trailers of any kind may have VINs of varying lengths. In any case, each VIN is unique and only linked to one vehicle. For that reason, the state’s Department of Revenue (DOR) must verify a VIN number in order to make sure that a vehicle is legitimate.

As a whole, a VIN inspection is only required in specific circumstances. If you find yourself under circumstances that demand an inspection, you must bring your vehicle to an authorized DMV registration office. Once your car has successfully passed the vehicle verification, you may apply for a new title and registration. Therefore, make sure to bring all of the applicable documents with you to the DMV for an inspection. Moreover, be mindful that additional registration fees may apply.

When is an Alabama VIN verification required?

Not all residents with new or used cars need to complete a DMV vehicle verification test. In general, a VIN inspection is only required under one of the following circumstances:

  1. Your vehicle does not require a title but is being registered in your name for the first time.
  2. Your vehicle requires a title and is being titled for the first time in Alabama.

You must verify your VIN number if one of the two circumstances listed above apply to you, regardless of whether you are buying a new car, a used car or bringing one in from another state. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule. For instance, an AL VIN verification is not required if any of the following scenarios apply:

  • Your vehicle’s registration is being renewed.
  • Your vehicle is used across multiple jurisdictions.
  • Your vehicle was registered in Alabama within the last year or two previous years.
  • The vehicle is owned and registered by a dealer or manufacturer, and is being kept as inventory.
  • The vehicle is a utility trailer.

 While there are no deadlines for VIN verifications, the state’s registration deadlines may affect your inspection. For instance, out-of-state vehicles must be registered within 30 days of being transferred to Alabama. Similarly, newly-purchased vehicles within the state must be registered and titled within 20 days of their date of purchase.

Where can I go to obtain a VIN inspection in Alabama?

Typically, a car verification must be done at a verified AL Department of Revenue office. Depending on the county in which the vehicle is registered, you may be able to use specially-designated DOR parking spaces. In some cases, the department will assign a government official to verify VIN number documents, such as a law enforcement officer.

Therefore, it is possible for your inspection to not take place at a DOR branch. In any case, you will be contacted by an assigned VIN inspector and given a location for the assessment.

What to Bring to a VIN Number Verification in Alabama

If your vehicle requires an inspection, an Alabama DMV VIN verification form must be completed. However, prior to visiting a car inspection station, make sure that you have all of the necessary documents with you. In general, these inspections require you to submit the following paperwork:

  • DMV VIN inspection form
  • Vehicle being inspected
  • Ownership documents that match the vehicle’s VIN
  • Acceptable payment method, if applicable

The AL DOR verification form may be printed online or provided by the inspector while the assessment is being conducted. In addition to this form, make sure that you have all of the other applicable ownership documents in your possession. For instance, you must ensure that your car’s certificate of title is properly assigned to you before attempting to register the vehicle under your name. If you do not have a certificate of title, you may use a bill of sale or a court order instead.

Before a vehicle VIN verification can be performed, the number marked on the car must be the same as the one listed on all of its other ownership documents. Thus, be certain that these digits match before bringing your car for an inspection. Depending on the vehicle, the VIN may be displayed at different parts of the car.

For example, if you own a passenger vehicle, including a pickup truck, the VIN will most likely be located on the driver’s windshield, or inside the driver’s door. On the other hand, cars made prior to 1954 may not display a VIN. In such cases, a motor number may be used instead for a VIN inspection.

If you have a leased vehicle or a car that shows a lienholder on its title, you may be required to provide additional paperwork while undergoing a car verification in Alabama. Furthermore, all out-of-state titles must be surrendered to the AL DOR when being registered for the first time in the state.

In order to verify VIN number documents, an official from the state’s Department of Revenue must confirm the car’s make and model. In addition, this DOR agent must verify the number of cylinders that a vehicle has, as well as its color and odometer reading. After verifying all of these elements, the official will sign the DOR inspection form.

What to Do After Completing a VIN Inspection in Alabama

After an Alabama VIN verification has been completed, a motorist can register a car in his or her own name. Depending on the vehicle and its ownership status, a car owner may also be required to apply for a new title.

If your vehicle does not have a lienholder present, you must bring a completed VIN inspection form along with the vehicle for it to be registered at a local DOR office. In general, all applicants must have the following items to apply for a vehicle registration after it undergoes an inspection with the DOR.

  • Car owner’s driver’s license
  • Proof of auto insurance
  • Completed DOR VIN verification form
  • Proof of address
  • Ownership documents, such as a certificate of title or a manufacturer’s certificate of origin

If one or more owners cannot be present at the car inspection stations, a power of attorney form must be completed for an inspection or registration to proceed. Furthermore, be mindful that registration and inspection fees may vary depending on different factors.

Last updated on Friday, March 8 2019.

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