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Alabama Boating Requirements


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Jan 29, 2024 - The Alabama boating requirements summary provides everything you should know about owning and operating a boat in the State of Alabama. Here you will find vital information and  resources related to boat registration, titling, numbering, liens, record searches, taxes, insurance, safety, boating laws and operational regulations. This includes direct WikiLinks to online Alabama internet sources for the most current data possible.

Registration - Titling

Although previously a boat registration only state, titling is now available as an option (WikiLinks) in Alabama on non-documented boats over 26 feet. Registrations and titles are accordingly administered by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA), Marine Patrol Division. However, registration and title applications must be implemented through the respective county offices (WikiLinks). The ALEA website (WikiLinks) offers little by way of boat registration and titling information, but such details can be found on the county websites.

Unless otherwise exempted, all mechanically propelled vessels, sailboats and boats for hire must become registered when operating on Alabama waters. USCG documented vessels are also subject to registration unless endorsed for commercial usage. Exemptions include vessels which are registered in another state for a period not to exceed 90 consecutive days, foreign registered vessels, and lifeboats. A complete list of other exemptions, fees, forms and instructions may be found on the respective county websites (WikiLinks).

Boat registration renewals are available through the ALEA online website portal (WikiLinks). ALEA must be notified within 15 days upon a sale or destruction of the boat.

Boat title bonding (WikiLinks) is available in situations where sufficient proof of ownership is not otherwise available.

Titles are not available in Alabama for outboard boat motors, however they can be optionally listed on the underlying boat registration record.

Titling and registration is not required for boat trailers in Alabama.

Alabama has regulations that deal with the removal of boats from public lands and private property (WikiLinks). These will allow property owners to ultimately attain title if properly handled under the respective storage lien statutes. Contact the ALEA Marine Patrol Division (WikiLinks) for further information about the disposition of abandoned boats.

According to a recent survey, there are approximately 248,710 boats registered in Alabama which accounts for 2.1% of all nationwide registrations. The latest statistics including those related to boating accidents can be found on the USCG Safety Division's website (WikiTags)

Numbering - Marking

Boat registration numbers in Alabama begin with an "AL" designation which is followed by four numbers and then two letters. These must be displayed on all non-documented boats along with registration sticker tab decals.

Coast Guard documented vessels may not display the state registration numbers. However they must display the state registration tabs, an owner designated vessel name, and a hailing port. An official documentation number must also be affixed to a visible interior location in the hull itself or an integral part of the hull.

Boats manufactured after 1972 are required to have a 12 digit hull identification number affixed to the vessel by the manufacturer. Owners with older boats may apply with the Marine Police Division for a state issued hull number assignment. These begin with the letters "ALZ" and are available for home made boats or those without factory designations.

Liens - Security Interests

Boat titles are now available in Alabama as an option on non-documented boats over 26 feet, therefore security interests can be perfected in this manner and will be sown on the certificate. If registered only, they may be recorded as Uniform Commercial Code filings. However these may become subordinate if subsequently titled or documented. In any event, security interests recorded as preferred mortgages on USCG documented boats will take priority over state level recordings.

Tax liens are sometimes flagged in the state's registration database, recorded as UCC filings, shown on state revenue records, or filed with a county clerk's office. They may also show up on a documented boat's abstract of title.

There are no provisions in Alabama for recording mechanic's liens or other non-secured claims against registered or titled boats.

Databases - Record Searches

Boat registration and title records in Alabama are maintained in a database which is administered by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). Access to such data is available for owners, qualified parties and the general public. Guidelines on how to lookup boat registration information and obtain current or historical records in the State of Alabama can be found in WikiLinks.

Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filings for boats in Alabama are administered by the Secretary of State. Online access to such records is available from its website (WikiLinks).

State and Federal tax liens on boats are not always recorded in a consistent manner and are therefore difficult to identify. Given these disparities, it may be worth obtaining the services of a public record provider (WikiTags) that has access to a broad range of personal property lien recordings.

Ownership, mortgage, and lien search recordings for Coast Guard documented vessels can be obtained by ordering an abstract of title from the National Vessel Documentation Center (WikiTags).

Business entity records in Alabama are administered by the Secretary of State. These can be accessed by various criteria from their online record search portal (WikiTags).

Taxes - Insurance

Sales, use, and local taxes are applicable to boats purchased or operated in Alabama. Such rules are, however, subject to frequent changes and certain exemptions may apply. You should accordingly contact the Alabama Department of Revenue (WikiLinks) to confirm the most current requirements as they relate to your circumstances.

Liability insurance is not currently required for boats operating on Alabama waters. However, this is highly recommended as boating accidents and fatalities are not uncommon.

Operating - Safety

Boating laws and regulations in Alabama are enforced by the ALEA Marine Patrol Division. Contact information can be found in WikiLinks.

A boat operator license card (WikiLinks must be carried by any motorized boat operator over 12 years old while boating on Alabama waters. It must have been issued upon the completion of an ALEA approved boater education course (WikiLinks)

Boating fatalities, injuries or accidents occurring on Alabama waters must be reported to the ALEA Marine Patrol Division within a certain period of time. Further details about when, where and how to file an accident report can be found in WikiLinks.


The information contained herein is intended as an overview only and may be subject to change without notice. Be sure to check with the respective government agency before taking action on any such data.

Credits and References

Jan 29, 2024 - Page revised.



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