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FAQ Categories / Tax: Vessel Titles

As of June 1, 2018, Alabama Act 2018-179 established a formal statewide program, administered through the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA), to address abandoned or derelict vessels (ADVs). There are also non-governmental organizations that are involved with the removal and disposal of ADVs, including the Dog River Clearwater Revival, which has worked with Sea Grant and the NOAA Marine Debris Program to remove vessels from the state's waterways.

Funding

The Alabama Abandoned and Derelict Vessel Fund, established June 2018 and managed by the Secretary of ALEA, is for payment of the seizure, removal, transportation, preservation, storage, advertisement, appraisal, and disposal of a derelict vessel.

Legislative Overview

Effective June 1, 2018, Act 2018-179, relating to derelict and abandoned vessels, authorizes the removal of a vessel from the waters of this state under certain conditions by a law enforcement officer or a private property owner. Vessels that are found adrift are covered under §35-13-1, Code of Ala. 1975, which states that any person may take up and secure “all property adrift.” In addition, Alabama has laws that make it unlawful to place a “dangerous vessel” in a harbor in the state. Under §33-1-33, Code of Ala. 1975, any owner or agency in control of a vessel that is anchored, moored, or made fast to the shore illegally, or is liable to sink or pollute, or deemed to be derelict, can be charged with a fine if they fail to remove it.

Point of Contact

  • ALEA has authority to take possession of and dispose of an abandoned or derelict vessel.
  • The Alabama State Port Authority has jurisdiction over the state’s ports and administers the laws under Title 33 - Navigation.
  • The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has authority to enforce mooring restrictions on state-owned bottom lands through the Marine Patrol.

Please see the link below for additional vessel information:

https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/sites/default/files/ADV-Docs/ALABAMA_ADV_Legal_Review_revised2018ccw_NOAA_MDP.pdf

 

Consist of 12 characters (letters and numbers)

  • First three characters – USCG assigned manufacturer identification code or the importer designation.
  • Characters four through eight – serial number assigned by the manufacturer.
  • Characters nine and 10 – indicate the month and the date of manufacture.
  • Characters 11 and 12 – indicate the model year.

The title application fee is $20 for each application for Alabama certificate of title for a vessel.

Designated Agents shall add the sum of $5 as the commission for each application processed.

License Plate Issuing Officials shall collect an additional $5 as the commission for each application processed. The $5 is deposited in a separate fund maintained by the licensing official to be used in his or her sole discretion for any legal purpose in the operation of his or her office.

The application for vessel title must be electronically submitted to ALDOR and contain the following:

  • Name and addresses of the applicant
  • Name and addresses of all owners
  • Hull identification number or, if none, an application for the issuance of hull identification number for the vessel
  • Vessel number or, if none, an application for vessel number
  • The official number for the vessel if any assigned by the United States Coast Guard
  • Vessel information

The owner of a vessel for which this state is the state of principal use shall deliver to the office an application for a certificate of title for the vessel, with the applicable fee, no later than 20 days after the later of:

  • The date of transfer of ownership; or
  • The date Alabama becomes the state of principal use.

A vessel the ownership of which is recorded in a registry maintained by a country other than the United States which identifies each person that has an ownership interest in a vessel and includes a unique alphanumeric designation for the vessel.

A vessel covered by a certificate of documentation issued pursuant to 46 U.S.C. 12105.

The term does not include a foreign-documented vessel.

Personal watercraft (PWC) is defined as a type of motorboat which is specifically designed to be operated by a person or persons sitting, standing, or kneeling ON the vessel rather than INSIDE the vessel.

Personal watercraft (PWC) is limited to under 16 feet in length.

The term PWC includes jet skis, wet bikes, etc.

A vessel is any watercraft used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water, except:

  • A seaplane
  • An amphibious vehicle
  • Watercraft less than 18 feet in length that is propelled solely by:
    • Sail
    • Paddle
    • Oar, or
    • An engine of less than 75 horsepower
  • Watercraft that operates only on a permanently fixed manufactured course and the movement of which is restricted or guided by means of a mechanical device to which the watercraft is attached or by which the watercraft is controlled;
  • Stationary floating structure that:
    • Does not have and is not designed to have a mode of propulsion of its own
    • Is dependent for utilities upon a continuous utility hookup to a source originating on shore; and
    • Has a permanent, continuous hookup to a shoreside sewage system;
      • Example: Houseboat tied to shore
  • Watercraft owned by the United States, a state, or a foreign government or a political subdivision of any of them;
  • Watercraft used solely as a lifeboat on another watercraft.
  • a documented vessel
  • a foreign-documented vessel
  • a barge
  • a vessel before delivery if the vessel is under construction or completed pursuant to contract; or
  • a vessel held by a dealer for sale or lease
  • a vessel which construction has been completed as of December 31, 2023 (some exceptions apply).

The owner of a vessel that is 26 feet or more in length and to which Alabama is the state of principal use on or after January 1, 2024, may voluntarily apply for a certificate of title regardless of when the vessel was constructed.

Vessels that meet the following criteria are required to be titled in Alabama:

  • Any vessel constructed after December 31, 2023 (some exclusions apply).
  • Any vessel for which Alabama is the state of principal use on or after January 1, 2024.
  • Any vessel that is less than 18 feet in length is only titled if it is propelled by an engine of 75 horsepower or greater (includes: jet skis, sailboats, paddleboats, and rowboats).

An application for a vessel certificate of title must be accompanied by:

  • A certificate of title signed by the owner shown on the certificate and which identifies the applicant as the owner of the vessel or is accompanied by a record that identifies the applicant as the owner
    • If there is no certificate of title, the following are accepted:
      • If the vessel was a documented vessel, a record issued by the United States Coast Guard which shows the vessel is no longer a documented vessel and identifies the applicant as the owner
      • If the vessel was a foreign-documented vessel, a record issued by the foreign country which shows the vessel is no longer a foreign-documented vessel and identifies the applicant as the owner
  • In all other cases, a certificate of origin, bill of sale, or other record that to the satisfaction of the office identifies the applicant as owner

A vessel inspection by ALEA is to verify that a Hull Identification Number (HIN) does not already exist on the hull.

This inspection is not to determine sea worthiness of a vessel.

In Alabama, all vessels must have a hull identification number to be registered. If your vessel was manufactured prior to 1972, you would need to apply to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Marine Patrol (AMP) Division for a State-Assigned Hull Identification Number.

The application needed can be found on the ALEA website at:  https://www.alea.gov/sites/default/files/inline-files/HINApplication_0.pdf .

Once this application is submitted to ALEA an officer will contact you to set up an inspection date and time.

A “rebuilt vessel” refers to a vessel that is piecemealed together from one or more vessels (i.e., I have the pontoons from a 1992 pontoon boat, I have a frame and floor from a 2005 pontoon boat, and I affix them together to create a “rebuilt vessel”).

ALEA will require a “rebuilt vessel” to meet the same requirements as a Homebuilt Vessel with regard to the future sale of said vessel in order to comply with federal requirements regarding the issuance of a Hull Identification Number (HIN).

A “homemade vessel” refers to a vessel that was built from scratch by the owner (i.e., I am a carpenter and purchased wood to build my vessel). According to the U.S. Coast Guard, homebuilt vessels are constructed by individuals for their own use and not offered for sale. Because of this, these vessels may not always be built to recreational vessel safety requirements in 46 USC §43 and 33 CFR Subchapter S. The owner should apply for a state assigned HIN from the state issuing authority in the state in which the vessel will be principally operated.

Sale of Homebuilt Vessels. The intention of federal regulations to prohibit the sale of homebuilt recreational vessels that may not meet the safety standards is found within 46 U.S.C. §43 and 33 CFR Subchapter S. However, the Coast Guard recognizes that the sale of homebuilt recreational vessels may be appropriate in limited circumstances.

To allow for the sale of homebuilt recreational vessels, the Coast Guard has determined that the homebuilt recreational vessel must:

  1. Meet the requirements set forth within 33 CFR Subchapter S;
  2. Have been inspected via an independent marine surveyor with a nationally accredited certification such as National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS) or Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS). A survey report shall be provided to the state upon sale of the vessel; and
  3. Not be sold within 10 years of the issuance of the state assigned HIN. NOTE: Homebuilt vessels that are gifted at any time to another person are acceptable. Ref. (a) states that the sale of a vessel is the defining factor between a homebuilt vessel and a manufacturer-built vessel. The gifting of a homebuilt vessel does not hold the builder that is doing the gifting to the safety standards that a professional boat builder would need to uphold if they were selling for profit.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Marine Patrol (AMP) Division is responsible for issuing a State-Assigned Hull Identification Number or a Replacement Hull Identification Number.

The application needed can be found on the ALEA website at https://www.alea.gov/sites/default/files/inline-files/HINApplication_0.pdf. Once this application is submitted to ALEA, an officer will contact you to set up an inspection date and time.

Complete an electronic request for an Application for Title Surety Bond (form MVT 10-1A) in ALDOR’s Surety Bond Portal.

Upon approval of the request for a surety bond, you will be provided a Certificate of Title Surety Bond for a motor vehicle, manufactured home, or vessel (form MVT 10-1), to be completed by you and the insurance company issuing the surety bond.

Upon completion of the form MVT 10-1, apply for certificate of title through a designated agent within 90 days from the date the surety bond was executed.

The name of the owner(s) to be shown on the application for certificate of title must be the current legal name of the owner(s) of the motor vehicle, manufactured home, or vessel for which a certificate of title is requested. Owner name(s) on the title application must agree with the name on supporting documents. The seller information listed on the title application must agree with supporting documents.

Anstelle von handschriftlichen Namen und Unterschriften ist eine elektronische Unterschrift zulässig, wenn sie von der Behörde genehmigt wurde.

Weitere Einzelheiten finden Sie in der Verwaltungsvorschrift: 810-5-75-.40 Anforderungen an Namen und Unterschriften auf Titeln, Titelübertragungen und Kraftfahrzeugzulassungen.