Alabama Boat Bill of Sale Form


An Alabama boat bill of sale form is akin to a business agreement between two willing individuals. Both parties complete the form after negotiating the price and discussing the details of the sale. Its primary purpose is to provide legal proof that they transferred ownership of a vessel.

  • Statutes: § 33-5A
  • Signing Requirements: Both parties must sign in the appropriate fields.

County Versions (PDF)

What is an Alabama Boat Bill of Sale?

An Alabama boat bill of sale indicates business dealings between buyers and sellers. When filling out the form, each person must enter their up-to-date contact information and provide a signature. The document should also identify the boat through its hull identification number (HIN), title number, make, model, year, and/or length.

The exchange can, but does not have to, include a boat trailer or motor. If it does, the seller can use the boat bill of sale to write down the transfer details. However, they can also complete a trailer bill of sale form if they prefer a separate document. Conducting two (2) individual deals can make it easier to register the trailer, which the Department of Revenue (DOR) requires.

Eight (8) counties in Alabama use a region-specific bill of sale form. Residents living in these areas must use the official document for their county and follow local registration laws. Each person involved in the sale should keep a copy of the finalized form to settle potential disagreements or dispute legal claims.

How to Register a Boat (4 Steps)

Alabama residents must register motorized vessels, boats for hire, and sailboats. Owners of newly purchased boats have seventy-two (72) hours after the sale to register. The state extends the grace period to fifteen (15) days for owners of used vessels if they have the current registration.

Step 1 – Get a Boating License

The boat owner must have a valid boating license to apply for registration. “Licensed” means that a resident has taken and passed an official class approved by the state (§ 33-5-51).

County probate judges and licensed commissioners are the only officials in Alabama that can review and issue boat licenses. Interested residents must contact the Alabama Marine Patrol Division to sign up for a classroom course, or they can take an online class using or

Step 2 – Visit Vehicle Licensing Office

County laws dictate the boat registration process. Residents who acquire a vessel through a private sale must make an appointment with their nearby Vehicle Licensing Office to register it. After approval, the owner receives a unique registration number and decals, which they must attach to the boat.

Individuals who purchase vessels from a dealer do not have to go through the registration process. Instead, the dealer collects the necessary paperwork and fees from the buyer before sending it to the DOR. The customer receives a temporary registration until the state sends them the official documentation.

Homemade boats require additional steps and information. The owner must have the vessel inspected, submit the necessary forms, and pay the associated fees. Once approved, the Marine Patrol Division assigns and affixes a permanent HIN to the boat.

Bring the Following:

Step 3 – Adhere Decals & Alabama Number

The boat’s manufacturer must establish a HIN for each ship they make. If the manufacturer fails to assign the vessel, the owner cannot use it until the state tags it. Once the state gives the boat a number, a qualified professional must permanently adhere it to the stern.

In addition to a HIN, boats must have the registration number and decal. The owner is responsible for labeling the water vessel once they receive the information from the Vehicle Licensing Office.

An Alabama registration number contains three (3) sections separated by spaces or hyphens, appearing as “AL-4658-OP.” The first section is “AL” (for Alabama) and is followed by four (4) unique numbers and two (2) distinct letters.

Follow the steps listed below to place the registration number and decal(s) on the boat.

  1. Determine how to add the registration number to the vessel. Commonly, the owner paints it or has the number made into a decal, which they adhere to the boat. Either way, the number must be at least three (3) inches in height in block-style letters.
  2. Paint the number or place the decal for the registration number on the left and right sides of the boat. Ensure that the number is visible and stands out against the boat’s paint color.
  3. Place the decal (provided by the state) next to both registration numbers. It must adhere to the side of the number closer to the stern (§ 220-6-.03).

Step 4 – Renew Each Year

Boat registration renewals must occur each year. Like car renewals, the state sets expiration dates according to the first letter of the owner’s last name. The individual must pay the fees and submit documents before the last day of the specified month.

Since Alabama charges for late registrations, sending in the forms on time is essential. Boat patrol can also issue fines to people operating a non-registered vessel.

Registration requirements vary by county, although renewals generally occur online, by mail, or in person. To determine the renewal month, the registrar must locate the month next to the first letter of their last name.

  • January – A, D
  • February – B
  • March – C, E
  • April – F, G, N
  • May – H, O
  • June – I, M
  • July – L, P
  • August – J, K, R
  • September – Q, S, T
  • October – U, V, W, X, Y, Z

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Reviewing and understanding boating laws prevents owners from being fined or arrested. Read on to learn more about registering and operating vessels in Alabama.

1. How to Register a Boat in Alabama with No Papers

To register a boat, the owner needs to have, at minimum, a document proving their ownership (e.g., a bill of sale or title). If the previous owner registered the boat, the state could look up their name to find their account and the boat’s information.

Owners who do not have papers for the boat should provide the state with any information possible, such as the HIN or manufacturer’s statement of origin. Homemade boat builders must have paperwork for the materials used and other relevant forms.

2. Do You Need a Boating License in Alabama?

Yes, Alabama boat operators must have a license to drive. Individuals over the age of twelve (12) must complete a boater safety course and have a boater education card in their possession. Law enforcement officers who stop individuals without a license can fine them $100 or more and sentence them to a court hearing.

3. Can You Carry a Gun on a Boat in Alabama?

As long as the individual is legally allowed to own a firearm, they can open carry a gun on their boat. Firearm owners who have applied for a gun permit can concealed carry the weapon on the vessel. Regardless of whether they have a license, they must have supporting documents available to verify their ownership, such as a firearm bill of sale.

4. Does Alabama Require Boat Insurance?

The state does not require boat insurance; however, having an insurance policy protects the owner from being sued or paying substantial fees following an accident.

5. Does Alabama Title Boats?

The state of Alabama does not require the titling of boats. However, vessels with a manufacturing year after 1972 must have a HIN. Since the state does not mandate titles, both parties should complete and sign a bill of sale to authenticate the transfer of ownership.