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Title Transfer for New Residents

Beginning January 1, 2012, no certificate of title will be issued for any motor vehicle more than thirty-five (35) years old. Currently all 1987 and subsequent model year motor vehicles are required to be titled.

Effective January 1, 2012, no certificate of title will be issued for any trailer, semi-trailer, travel trailer, or pop-up camper more than twenty (20) years old. Currently, all 2002 and subsequent model year trailers, semi-trailers, travel trailers or pop-up campers are required to be titled.

Effective January 1, 2013, no certificate of title will be issued for a motor-driven cycle as defined in Section 32-1-1.1, Code of Alabama, 1975. A motor-driven cycle is defined as every motorcycle, including every motor scooter, with a motor that produces not to exceed five brake horsepower not to exceed 150 cubic centimeter engine displacement and weighs less than 200 pounds fully equipped, and every bicycle with a motor attached.

Likewise, an item of husbandry, ATVs, boats, boat trailers, utility trailers, and off-road vehicles remain exempt from Alabama’s title law. Beginning in July 2009 utility trailers designed to be pulled by passenger automobiles and pickup trucks became exempt from title requirements.

The title law requires the recorded owner to assign the Alabama title to the buyer and deliver the title with the vehicle. If a vehicle is purchased out-of-state, then the manufacturer’s certificate of origin (new vehicle) or out-of-state title (used vehicle) is submitted to any designated agent who in turn submits title applications and supporting documents to the Alabama Department of Revenue. Designated agents include county licensing officials, financial institutions, and licensed automobile dealers.

All vehicles brought into Alabama require visual inspection. Odometer readings must be shown in each title assignment on vehicles within ten model years.

If you are a new resident, the following items are guidelines for title transfer and tag registration of out-of-state vehicles in Alabama:

If a lien holder holds a valid title, then a copy of the out-of-state title is necessary. A faxed copy is acceptable. If the surrendering state provides electronic title issuance to the lien-holder, then a title confirmation statement should be provided and include information listing the owner, vehicle, and lien-holder. The License Commissioner’s office fax number is (256) 233-6486. In many states, the owner listing on the face of the title differs from payment books and tag receipts. 

A physical inspection and verification of the VIN and descriptive data shown on the title application are required for each vehicle brought into Alabama with an out-of-state title. Vehicles and trailers may be brought to the Courthouse or State Form MVT 5-10 (download form) may be completed by a governmental law enforcement officer in Alabama. Utility trailers pulled by a bumper hitch are exempt from physical inspection.

Private Passenger Vehicle. An owner is required to sign his title application for ownership certification and vehicle description verification. If joint ownership is reflected by the conjunction “and” or by the absence of conjunction, then each owner must sign the title application. If joint ownership is reported by the conjunction “or” or “and/or”, then only one owner must be present. If an owner is unavailable, then he may appoint another person by power-of-attorney (download form). The appointee may act on behalf of the owner by providing supporting documents, signatures, fees, etc.
Lease Vehicle. A leasing company located outside of Alabama, that leases a vehicle that will be domiciled in Alabama, shall furnish the residence address of the lessee and grant power-of-attorney (download form) to an appointee to sign the title application. The lessor shall remain the owner as listed on the surrendered title and the Alabama title shall be mailed to the owner’s mailing address as provided.

Alabama’s title fee is $18.00. Alabama vehicle registration is renewed on the staggered system, based on the first letter of the owner’s last name. Fees vary according to vehicle type, but the standard passenger fee is $24.25. Out-of-state tag registration is valid for 30 days for new residents. The late registration penalty is $15.00. If registration is delayed beyond the designated tag renewal month, there may be additional penalties due. Ad valorem tax is a property ownership tax based on the market value on October 1 as provided by the Alabama Department of Revenue. The tax lien attaches to vehicles upon entering the highways of the State. Tax may be collected for prior months during the vehicle registration renewal month and varies according to vehicle value and outstanding months due.  

The owner provides evidence that they are in compliance with Alabama law related to liability insurance coverage on their vehicle. The insurance card is the most common evidence of current insurance. The insurance proof must be with a provider licensed to insure in Alabama and must display the current effective date, insurer’s NAIC number, vehicle identification number (VIN), and policy number. A valid out-of-state driver’s license or state-issued id card may be presented by a new resident within the required days to change to an Alabama driver’s license.