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FAQ – Vehicle Registrations

1. When I sell or otherwise dispose of my vehicle, does the license plate remain on the vehicle?
Effective January 1, 1998 license plates are to be removed by the registrant upon sale or disposal of the vehicle, for possible transfer to a replacement vehicle. Also beginning August 1, 2000, owners may be entitled to a pro-rata credit for property classes paid for the remainder of their current tax year. If the vehicle is sold or reassigned, the owner may bring their supporting documents and apply for a tax credit voucher within one year.

2. What is the fee to transfer a license plate?

In Limestone County the transfer fee is $2.00. In addition to paying the transfer fee, county officials are required to collect any outstanding and current property taxes on the newly acquired vehicle. Also, if the newly acquired vehicle was purchased from someone other than a licensed Alabama motor vehicle dealer, state and local sales or use tax may be due. The State of Alabama has an automotive sales tax rate of 2%. Limestone County’s rate is 1%. The municipal sales tax rates range from 0.25% to 1.75%.

3. What items should I bring to register a newly acquired used vehicle from an Alabama licensed dealer?

  • Copy of Alabama title application
  • Copy of Bill of Sale
  • Used Motor Vehicle Dealer Affidavit (If the application is checked as a used vehicle)
  • Proof of Liability Vehicle Insurance, (NAIC, policy number, effective date)
  • Each New Owners Valid Alabama Driver’s License or ID Card

4. Does Alabama law require the vehicle operator to retain registration documents within the vehicle for possible presentation to law enforcement?

Yes. Act 96-733, effective January 1, 1998, provides that the owner shall retain within the vehicle the Motor Vehicle Registration Tag and Tax Receipt (or a photocopy thereof) for possible presentation to law enforcement. The fine, upon conviction, is a minimum of $50. If someone trades vehicles, he/she is required to retain within the vehicle prior to transferring the registration, a copy of the title application from the selling dealer or finance company, or the bill of sale from the individual seller. Also beginning July 1, 2001, proof of vehicle liability insurance is required for presentation to law enforcement.

5. What are the prerequisites for registration?

  • Alabama Certificate of Title ($18) for motor vehicles 35 years old and subsequent year model vehicles.
  • Assessment and payment of ad valorem (personal property taxes) based on the market value of the vehicle.
  • Truck and truck tractor owners are required to provide proof of payment of the federal Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (Form 2290).
  • Owners’ proof of liability insurance (NAIC, policy number, current effective date) and valid driver’s license for each owner or, if company-owned, their current FEIN.
  • Payment of the appropriate registration and issuance fee ($24.25 for automobiles and trucks up to 8,000 pounds gross weight).

6. Is emission testing a prerequisite to registration?


7. Is a registrant required to prove that he/she has liability insurance?

Yes. Beginning January 1, 2013, county licensing offices will attempt to verify liability insurance utilizing the State of Alabama Online Insurance Verification System (OIVS) which will allow immediate verification of the insurance status of a vehicle at any point in time. If insurance cannot be verified through OIVS vehicle owners must provide evidence to the county licensing official. Most evidence of current insurance is the insurance card.

8. Is it necessary for the license plate issuing official to inspect the vehicle?

Under Alabama law, if the vehicle is being titled for the first time in Alabama or if a non-titled vehicle is being registered for the first time in a new owner’s name, an inspection of the vehicle identification number is required. Thus, it would be necessary for the vehicle to be taken to the county office in order to make an application for a certificate of title and for the vehicle to be registered. Utility trailers and boat trailers are exempt from physical inspections.

9. How does one obtain a personalized license plate?

One completes an application with the License Commissioner. The office will make an inquiry to the State Motor Vehicle Division to verify if the requested letters and/or numbers are available for issuance. If so, the issuing official will collect the appropriate registration fee, and issue a registration receipt, a sixty-day temporary license plate, and the month and year decal to be placed on the new license plate. The license plate will be shipped from the manufacturing facility to the registrant (usually 60 days). A search engine for personalized messages is provided by the Alabama Department of Revenue.

10. What is the fee for a personalized plate?

The registrant is subject to payment of the standard registration fees based on the type of vehicle, plus an additional fee. The additional fee for a standard personalized license plate or for a personalized motorcycle license plate or most distinctive license plate is $50. Beginning January 1, 2016, there is an additional $5.00 fee at the time of acquiring a new personalized license plate. There is no additional $5.00 fee when renewing or transferring the same personalized license plate following the metal plate issuance. 

11. How does one obtain disability parking credentials?

In order to obtain the disability access license plates, the vehicle (or vehicles) must be fully or partially owned by the person with the disability. There is no limit on the number of license plates that may be obtained.  Anyone obtaining the disability access license plate may obtain one placard; anyone who does not obtain the license plate may qualify for two placards.  One temporary placard is available upon certification by the physician, using the application form, that the disability meets the federal criteria and is temporary. The maximum length of time for a temporary parking placard under federal law is six months. The new disability application form was required in 2012 to re-certify all current users of disability license plates and placards. The next re-certification year is scheduled for 2017.