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Alabama Boating Requirements


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JUN 29, 2023 - Alabama boating requirements summary provides everything you should know about boat registration, title options, recording methods, database search lookups, tax rules, and operational rules for the State of Alabama. There are approximately 248,260 boats registered in Alabama which accounts for 2.1% of all nationwide registrations.

Registration - Titling

Alabama is a registration only state and does not issue boat titles. However, boat titling is slated to commence sometime in 2024. Registrations on non-exempt boats are administered by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA), Marine Patrol Division in Montgomery and can also be handled through various county offices. Although the ALEA website offers little by way of registration information, such details can be found on the county websites.

Unless otherwise exempted, all mechanically propelled vessels, sailboats and boats for hire must become registered in Alabama. 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 exemptions may be found on their boat registration website.

Alabama does not have provisions for conditional boat registrations where sufficient proof of ownership is not otherwise available. Under these circumstances it will be necessary to petition a court of local jurisdiction for an award of ownership.

Boat registration branding for salvage, damages, and rebuilds is not available in Alabama.

Alabama is a participating member of the Vessel Identification System (VIS)

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.

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

Alabama is a registration only state and does not issue boat titles. Registration certificates may however serve as quasi-proof of ownership unless the vessel is Coast Guard documented. Security interests in boats that are neither titled or documented are therefore recorded through Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filings.

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

If the vessel is USCG documented, a security interest is perfected by filing a preferred vessel mortgage. These are recorded with the National Vessel Documentation Center with the earliest submissions taking priority. Other lien claims can be filed in the same manner although these function as notifications only. All such filings are indexed on the vessel's underlying abstract of title

Databases - Record Searches

The boat registration database is maintained by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). Comprehensive information on how to implement boat record search lookups can be found inn WikiTags.

State and Federal tax liens on boats are not always recorded in a consistent manner and are therefore difficult to identify. They may show up as a red flag on state registration records, as UCC filings, in state revenue records, in a county clerks records, or on a vessel's abstract of title for documented boats. Given these disparities, it may be worth obtaining the services of a public record vendor 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 and a copy of the certificate of documentation from the National Vessel Documentation Center. However, these are encoded and can be difficult to interpret, especially on older vessels with numerous recordings. It may be worthwhile to contact a professional vessel documentation company for assistance.

Taxes - Insurance

Sales, use, and local taxes are applicable to boats purchased and 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 to confirm the most current requirements as they relate to your circumstances. A link to their Department of revenue is provided in the above WikiTags.

Liability insurance is not required for boats operating on Alabama waters. This is, however, subject to change without notice and you should confirm with the marine patrol office for this jurisdiction.

Operating - Safety

Any motorized boat operator over 12 years old is required by Alabama law to pass a boater safety course and to carry a boater education card. Visit the above WikiTags for exemptions and further information.

The operator of a boat involved in an accident causing loss of life, injury, or damage in excess of $50.00, must, within 10 days, submit an accident report to the Marine Patrol Division. Visit the safe boating link in the above WikiTags for additional operating and safety requirements.


The information contained herein is subject to change without notice and may contain errors or omissions. Be sure to check with the respective government agency before taking action on any such data. More detailed information about all of these topics can be found in the above WikiTags.

Credits and References

Jun 29,2023 - Page revised.



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