Boat Operator Vessel License
Who Must Be Certified?
All Alabama residents 12 years of age and older who operate a motorized vessel on Alabama waters. If the vessel license is acquired after January 1, 2002, and the operator is under 14 years of age, then a person 21 years old or older with a valid operator’s license must be on board and in a position to take immediate physical control of the vessel if necessary.
Proof Of Age:
All minors must furnish to the state driver’s license examiner a certified copy of their birth certificate and social security card. (To view ALEA, Driver License Unit documents list click here.)
Cost Of Certification:
A one-time fee of $5.00 (five dollars) cash is charged by the driver’s license examining officer as an application fee.
How To Obtain Boat Operators Certification:
- Applicant must go to State Driver’s License Examining Office. (To view State ALEA Driver License office locations click here.)
- Make an application and pay the fee ($5.00).
- Answer medical questions.
- Successfully complete written/oral exam, or show proof of exemption. (To view or download boat operator’s handbook click here.)
- Pay license fee. If you are a non-resident or non-licensed driver, the cost is $36.25 for the initial driver’s license. If the applicant is requesting changes on his non-expiring driver’s license, the duplicate fee is $31.25.
Exemptions From Examination Requirements:
- Holder of a valid United States Coast Guard Motorboat Operator’s License.
- Person submitting a valid certificate of successful completion of:
- United States Power Squadron Boating Course.
- United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Boating Course.
- Any State or Alabama Marine Police Division approved boating course (Alabama Boating Basics Course or Alabama Boating Education Online Exam).
- Any boat operator who was 40 or older on April 28, 1994.
NOTE: Boating course certificates or motorboat operator’s licenses must be submitted to the Driver’s License Examiner at the time of making an application.
NOTE: The operator license must be in possession at the time of vessel operation. Additional Information concerning “Rules Of the Road” related to operating a boat in Alabama waters can be obtained by contacting the office: Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Marine Police Division, Montgomery, Alabama; 334-242-3673
Alabama registers all mechanically propelled vessels, sailboats, and boats for hire. All Limestone County boat owners may register, renew or transfer ownership at our office. If you are not a resident of Alabama, registration can be accomplished at the Marine Police Division in Montgomery, Alabama. All dealers and livery (rental) must register with the Marine Police Division.
Alabama law changed the boat fees beginning January 1, 2022. The four (4) boat classes and new fees are as follows:
Class I – Less than 16 ft. $ 25.00 fee
Class II – 16 ft. less than 26 ft $ 30.00 fee
Class III – 26 ft. less than 40 ft $ 80.00 fee
Class IV – 40 ft. and above $105.00 fee
A duplicate decal or boat certificate may be issued for a lost or destroyed item. The fee is $ 5.00.
A transfer fee of $ 5.00 applies to vessels with a current year registration but needs to be transferred into a new owner’s name. If the vessel has no current registration, then the transfer fee plus the correct class fee above will be collected. Sales and use tax apply to the purchase price of boats at the same local rates as applies to vehicles.
When you purchase a boat, the seller should provide the purchaser with the last registration certificate of the boat and a bill of sale.
There is a 72-hour grace period for the registration of a new boat. There is no grace period for a used boat. If you buy a used boat with an expired registration, you must currently register the boat before it is used in Alabama waters.
If your vessel is brought into Limestone County from another state, then no transfer fee is applied. A new Alabama registration number will be issued. Please present your last state registration certificate when registering in this county.
The Alabama boat registration system is on a staggered basis similar to vehicle registration. The first letter of an individual’s last name determines the month of renewal. State law does not allow for prorating of the class fees above on a monthly basis.
For boating information related to rules, regulations, and enforcement, you may wish to contact the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Marine Police Division at (334) 242-3673.