vessel documentation and boat registration

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Alabama Boat Registration Summary

          Alabama boat registration summary presents an overview of boat titling, registration, loan perfection, title search, and operational requirements for the State of Alabama. Additional boat registration and titling resources can be found by visiting our State page as shown in the above menu selections. Boat registration services, supplemental forms, and historical research data  are also available from our Services, Forms, and Database pages.

The information presented here is subject to change and should be confirmed with the respective state agency.
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Alabama Department of
 Natural Resources
Boat Registration Statistics There are approximately 265,626 boats registered in the State of Alabama. This accounts for 2.2% of all nationwide registrations.
Boat Registration Numbering The boat registration number prefix for the State of Alabama is "AL".
Boat Registration Agency All resident and non-resident boat owners may register, renew or transfer ownership at their local county Judge of Probate or License Commissioner. They may also register or renew vessel registration, with proof of payment of sales and use tax, at the Marine Police Division office in Montgomery, AL.  If sales tax has not been paid, there is no documentation showing proof of payment of sales tax, or a transfer of ownership is taking place, then registration can only be accomplished at the local Judge of Probate's office or the office of the License Commissioner.
Boat Registration Requirements Alabama registers all mechanically propelled vessels, sailboats, and boat for hire. Exceptions are : (1) A vessel operating under valid temporary certificate of number. (2) A vessel already covered by a number in full force and effect which has been awarded to it pursuant to federal law or a federally applied numbering system of another state, provided, that such vessel shall not have been within this state for a period in excess of 90 consecutive days. (3) A vessel under registry from a country other than the U.S. temporarily using the waters of this state. (4) A vessel owned by the U. S., or a state, county or municipality. (5)  A ship's lifeboat. (6)    A vessel not propelled by machinery, except sailboats and boats for hire (rental).
     Vessels documented with the U. S. Coast Guard as commercial are not required to be registered with the state. Vessels documented as pleasure are required to register, however, they do not have to display the Alabama registration number on the bow. The current year decal should be placed in a conspicuous location on the vessel and the certificate shall be on board when in operation.
Boat Title Requirements Alabama is a registration only state and does not issue boat titles.
Conditional Boat Registrations Alabama does not have provisions for conditional boat registrations where sufficient proof of ownership is not otherwise available. Under these circumstances, ownership will need to be established through an award from a court of proper jurisdiction.
Abandoned Boats Alabama does not have special provisions for registering abandoned boats. However, the state does have procedures for the disposal of derelict or abandoned boats.
Boat Registration Records Boat registration records are maintained indefinitely in Alabama by the Marine Police Division. This agency does not facilitate online searches for the general public. However, record printouts are available by telephone or upon written request.
Boat Tax Requirements Sales or use tax applies to boat sales and transfers in Alabama.
Boat Loan Perfection Security interests on non-documented boats in Alabama are perfected with a UCC recording. If the vessel is Coast Guard documented, a preferred vessel mortgage must be recorded with the National Vessel Documentation Center.
Boat Lien Recordings In order to conduct a lien search on non-documented boats registered in Alabama it will be necessary to conduct a UCC lien search with the Secretary of State. If the boat  is Coast Guard documented, you will need to obtain an abstract of title from the vessel documentation office.
Possessory Boat Liens Alabama has provisions for non-judicial enforcement of boat repair and storage liens where the lien-holder maintains possession of the boat. However, such procedures must be implemented in strict accordance with the law and should be handled by an attorney. If the boat is Coast Guard documented, federal jurisdiction may take precedent.
Boat Ownership Methods Joint ownership terms are not defined on boat recordings in Alabama. Multiple owners are simply shown as co-owners.
Boat Residency Requirements Non-residents may apply for a registration if Alabama is the principal place of operation.
Boat Reporting Requirements Ownership transfers, abandonment, theft, or destruction of an Alabama registered boat must be reported to the Marine Police Division within 15 days.
Boat Hull  Number Requirements All vessels manufactured after 1972 are required to have a 12 digit hull identification number affixed to the vessel by the manufacturer. Owners with vessels manufactured prior to 1972 may apply with the Marine Police Division for a hull number assignment. The boat must be inspected by an Alabama law enforcement official if there is a discrepancy with the hull identification number.
Outboard Boat Motors Titling and registration are not required in Alabama for outboard boat motors. However they can be optionally listed on a boat registration application.
Boat Trailers Titling and registration are not required for boat trailers in Alabama.
Notary Regulations Alabama notaries must affix their seal on notarized forms.
Boat Visitation Rules A visitation period of 90 consecutive days is allowed for boats that are registered in another state, Coast Guard documented, or registered in a foreign country.
Alabama Boat Registration Resources Boat Registration Information
Abandoned Boat Information
Boat Registration Application
Other Boat Registration Forms
Boat Registration Renewal Online
Boat Registration Laws
Notary Public Information
Sales & Use Tax Information
Alabama County Directory
Marine Police Headquarters

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