License Plate Lookup in Alabama
A license plate lookup in Alabama is a service that retrieves all the available information associated with a registered motor vehicle license plate in the state. Like most Alabama traffic records, license plate information can be made available to interested and eligible persons. Hence, a license plate lookups will provide the requestor with official records on the motor vehicles attached to the license plates, including;
- Vehicle registration issues
- Mileage verification
- Branded title - official status of the vehicle from AL DMV
- Service, inspection, and registration history - maintenance history of the vehicle
- Liens and repossession records
- Flood, hail, and fire damage history
- Accident history - accident and damage records of the vehicle
- Robbery records - records of cases where the vehicle was reported stolen
License plate lookups are especially useful when attempting to purchase a used vehicle or track down an errant driver in the state.
It is possible to conduct Alabama license plate lookups using online third-party applications that perform these services. Information on Alabama license plates may also be available on request from the Alabama Department of Revenue (DOR), but privacy concerns may restrict the release of information. License plate information retrieved online, particularly from free license plate lookup services in Alabama, may not always be updated or complete. The Alabama DOR will have the most complete and updated information about license plates in the state. Third-party user applications that are available online offer both paid and free license plate lookups in Alabama. Usually, the information available from paid services is more updated and concise than the information available from free lookups. License plate lookups are essentially background checks on the vehicles attached to license plates to retrieve information about the vehicles.
What is an Alabama License Plate?
An Alabama license plate is a unique identification tag issued at the registration of a motor vehicle in Alabama. This identification tag confirms that a motor vehicle has been duly registered in the state by the Department of Revenue and can legally ply the roads and highways in Alabama. The Motor Vehicle Division of the Alabama Department of Revenue issues different types of license plates for vehicles registered in the state. These are:
- Standard plates
- Distinctive plates
- Disability access parking credentials
- Collegiate plates
- Military plates
- Generic distinctive plates
- Generic race plates
- Dealer and manufacturer plates
- Temporary tags
- Government plates
- Vintage plates
Alabama Code Section 32-6-51 dictates that every motor vehicle in the state be duly registered and visibly display a license tag (plate) on the rear end. The license plate must be prescribed and furnished by the DOR and must be acquired within 20 days of the vehicle's acquisition. A typical Alabama State license plate will display the state's name (Alabama), an alphanumeric serial number, and the year of registration.
Third-party aggregate sites are a reliable alternative for obtaining license plate information. These sites are maintained by independent establishments which collate the information from government-run repositories. Obtaining records from these sites often proves substantially easier than government alternatives. However, requestors may be required to provide any information required to facilitate the record search and pay any required fees to access the record of interest.
How Do I Get a License Plate in Alabama?
It is mandatory for all motor vehicles plying the roads and highways in Alabama to be duly registered and display an identification tag on the rear end. Residents of Alabama that wish to obtain license plates must submit vehicle registration applications to the Department of Revenue (DOR). The registration of motor vehicles in Alabama is done at the registrant's local county license plate issuing office. The procedures for obtaining a license plate in Alabama might differ slightly, depending on the details of the vehicle purchase.
For vehicles purchased from a dealer, the following documents must be presented for registration:
- Completed certificate of title. If a title is not required for the vehicle, then any of the following documents can be presented:
- Vehicle registration
- Bill of sale, with sales tax information
- Dealer's affidavit (for out-of-state dealers)
- VIN/ownership documentation inspection
- Valid Alabama driver's license as proof of county residency
- Proof of mandatory liability insurance
- Applicable fees
- An odometer disclosure statement, if the vehicle is less than 10 years or 16,000 lbs
For vehicles purchased from private individuals, the following documents must be presented for registration:
- Certificate of title from the previous owner. If the title is from out-of-state, then the VIN/ownership documentation inspection must be completed as well.
- Alabama driver's license as proof of residency in the county.
- Proof of insurance.
- Most recent vehicle registration documents.
- Applicable fees.
If the vehicle is leased, the registrant will also need to provide power of attorney from the licensing company and a copy of the lease agreement.
To complete the registration of a motor vehicle in Alabama, the applicant is required to visit their county licensing office and submit their documentation. If the vehicle is new to the state, the applicant is required to obtain an Alabama State certificate of title. If the vehicle does not require a certificate of title, then a VIN/ownership documentation inspection certificate should be obtained. The applicant must submit all the required documentation and the applicable fees at the county licensing office; if required the vehicle must undergo an inspection by a licensing official. Upon completion of the process, successful applicants will receive their Alabama license plates and vehicle registration sticker.
Residents, in some counties in Alabama, can also process their vehicle registrations and procurement of license plates online.
Passenger License Plates vs Commercial License Plates
Passenger license plates are identification tags issued to passenger vehicles upon the registration of the vehicles with the Alabama Department of Revenue (DOR). Commercial license plates in Alabama are the identification tags issued by the DOR to commercial vehicles in the state. Section 32-9A-1 of the Alabama Code defines a commercial vehicle as a vehicle used to transport passengers or property as part of a commercial enterprise. However, the vehicle must also satisfy at least one of the following criteria:
- A gross weight rating or a gross combined weight of over 10,000 lbs; or
- The combination truck and trailer has a gross vehicle weight rating of over 26,000 lbs; or
- The vehicle is designed or used to transport over 8 persons for compensation or over 15 persons in total; this includes the driver; or
- The vehicle is used to transport hazardous materials in quantities that, under the U.S. Department of Transportation regulations, require placards.
Vehicles may obtain commercial or apportioned license plates depending on the number of jurisdictions where they perform business services. Apportioned license plates are for commercial vehicles registered under the International Registration Plan (IRP). The IRP is an agreement between U.S. and Canadian provinces that facilitates the commercial movement of persons and property between two or more jurisdictions. Commercial plates are for commercial vehicles that conduct all their business in one jurisdiction.
How Can I Find the Owner of a License Plate in Alabama?
A license plate lookup in Alabama may retrieve information about the vehicle in the state to which the license plate is registered. Due to privacy reasons, this information may not include the name or contact information of the registrant of the vehicle. However, it may be possible to use the information obtained from the lookup to identify the registrant of the vehicle. It is also possible to request motor vehicle records from the Alabama Department of Revenue and information in these records can be used to identify the owner of a license plate in the state. Law enforcement agencies in Alabama can also identify the owner of a license plate, but they most likely will only do this if a crime has been committed.
Alabama License Plate Renewal
Section 32-6-1 of the Code of Alabama makes the renewal of vehicle registrations in the state mandatory every year. Alabama statutes dictate that the month of renewal be determined by the first letter of the registrant's surname, thus:
January: A and D
March: C and E
April: F, G, and N
May: H and O
June: M and I
July: P and L
August: J, K, and R
September: Q, S, and T
October: U to Z
November: All National Guard, commercial, fleet, and leased vehicles
The county licensing office will send courtesy renewal notices by mail to vehicles owners in their jurisdiction before the expiration dates of the registrations. These notices will contain general information about the vehicle, renewal instructions, and applicable fees. Vehicle registrations in Alabama can be renewed online, in person, or by mail and registrants must pay all the applicable fees to complete their renewals.
To complete renewal applications online, registrants are required to provide:
- Online registration PIN (found in renewal notice)
- License plate number
- Renewal fees
To submit renewal applications in person, visit the local county licensing office and provide the following documents:
- License renewal notice
- Proof of motor liability insurance
- Copy of valid Alabama driver's license
- Current vehicle registration
- Renewal fees
Residents who wish to submit their renewal applications by mail may contact the Motor Vehicle Division on (334) 242-9000 for instructions.
Can You Look Up License Plates with VIN?
It is possible to use a vehicle identification number (VIN) to look up license plates and retrieve information about the vehicle. During the registration of a motor vehicle, the VIN is part of the information that is kept on record with the Motor Vehicle Division. As such, it is possible to use the vehicle identification number to look up information on a vehicle's license plate and registration.
Alabama VIN Number Lookup
A vehicle identification number, known as VIN, is a distinctive identifying code attached to every automobile. A VIN is composed of 17 alphanumeric digits that function as the fingerprint of the vehicle and can be used to retrieve information on the vehicle. An Alabama VIN lookup is a service that will retrieve information and records about a vehicle, including past owners, odometer readings, and accident reports. VIN lookups can be performed using free and paid third-party user applications that can be found online. The VIN of a vehicle is usually found on the driver's side dashboard and this can be viewed through the windscreen on the driver's side. A vehicle's VIN will also be inscribed on the driver's side doorjamb and written in the vehicle's title, registration, and insurance documents.
The different alphanumeric digits of a vehicle identification number provide information about the vehicle, thus:
- Digits 1-3 - World manufacturer identifier: identifies where the car was manufactured, the manufacturer, and the vehicle type.
- Digits 4-8 - Vehicle descriptor section: provides information about the vehicle's safety features, body style, engine size and type, and transmission.
- Digit 9 - Check digit: verifies the validity of the VIN.
- Digits 10-17 - Vehicle identifier section: digit 10 identifies the model year, digit 11 identifies the assembly plant, and digits 12-17 represent the vehicle production number.