Whether you live in the Cumberland Plateau, the East Gulf Coastal Plain, the Piedmont Upland, or the Highland Rim of Alabama, if you are thinking about privately selling your used car or truck, you’ve come to the right place. With an estimated 2.2 million registered trucks and cars in the state of Alabama, it’s no wonder that thousands of private vehicle sellers from the Cotton State have used Autotrader to sell their car. Below, we’ve outlined the steps and forms required for how to sell a car in the state of Alabama so you can sell your car quickly for the most cash.
Remember, most states consider the vehicle title a legal document, so the legal names (no nicknames) of both parties involved should be used, along with legible handwriting using black or blue ink. Mistakes, errors, and using White-Out may void the document so be careful and take your time filling it out.
If you’re looking to gift a vehicle or transfer a title to a relative, you can follow the same process that is outlined below. As for an inherited vehicle, you’ll need to include a Next of Kin Affidavit with the title, which is Form MVT 5-6.
Step 1: Allow the buyer to have the car inspected by a third party
Step 2: Organize and gather all related vehicle documentation
Step 3: Bill of Sale
Step 4: Transfer the title
Step 5: Remove your plates and cancel your insurance
Many vehicle shoppers who buy a car privately pay for a pre-purchase vehicle inspection conducted by a qualified and licensed auto mechanic of their choosing. Although the buyer pays for this inspection, the seller and buyer must agree on when and where the inspection is to be held. If the inspection does find any issues with the car, it is a good idea for you as the seller to keep the report for your records. Alabama does not require any inspections before a private party vehicle sale, but it can give the buyer some peace of mind knowing that they’re buying a quality vehicle.
Find all maintenance records, the owner’s manual and other paperwork related to the vehicle. If you can provide the buyer with extensive and detailed maintenance records, this will help provide the buyer with confidence that you’ve maintained the car in a proper and regular manner. You may even want to consider including a vehicle history report from a service like CarFax or AutoCheck.
The most important document when selling a car is the certificate of title. If there is a lien on the title, the lienholder must release interest in the vehicle before the car is sold. This can be achieved either by the seller paying off the car or by the lienholder providing a letter of lien release. Alabama has an official lien release form for this purpose, Form MVT 5-63. If you can’t pay off the car, then a lien release statement from your lienholder must be submitted to the Motor Vehicle Division of the Alabama Department of Revenue.
There isn’t a state-wide requirement for a bill of sale for private vehicle sales in Alabama, but some counties require them. Also, you’ll need a bill of sale if you’re selling a vehicle that doesn’t have a title in order to legally transfer ownership.
Baldwin County is Alabama’s biggest county and it requires a bill of sale. Baldwin County has its own official bill of sale form that can be found here. On this form, you enter basic vehicle information like the year, make, and model plus the odometer reading, the purchase price, purchase date, VIN, and signatures from both the buyer and the seller along with their addresses. Check with your local county to find out if a bill of sale is required. If your county doesn’t have an official bill of sale form, you can go through services like LegalZoom to print a bill of sale template that is legally binding when signed.
If the vehicle’s title has been lost, stolen or badly damaged, you can get a duplicate title through Alabama’s handy online portal. This can be used to apply for a new title or get a replacement. Otherwise, you can use Form MVT 12-1 and submit it along with a $15 application fee. When selling a car privately in Alabama, the buyer and the seller both need to fill out the relevant sections on the back of the title. This information includes the legal name, address, and signature of the buyer and the seller(s) along with the date of the sale, the odometer reading, and the purchase price.
If there are two (2) owners joined by the conjunction ‘and’ or with no conjunction between the names shall have tenancy in common ownership rights and both owners shall be required to sign the title application. Two (2) owners joined by the conjunction ‘or’ or ‘and/or’ shall have joint tenancy ownership rights with rights of survivorship and only one (1) owner shall be required to sign the title application. FYI: Alabama does not allow more than two owners to be named on a vehicle title. When the vehicle title is filled out accurately and legibly, it makes it easy for the buyer to transfer registration and acquire a new plate. Vehicles which are 35 model years old or older do not need a title in Alabama. Lastly, Alabama does not offer same day vehicle title printing.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) odometer disclosure requirements were updated in December 2020 impacting certain private vehicle sales in Alabama: For a vehicle transfer that occurs from January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2030, any vehicle of model year 2011 or newer (2012, 2013, etc.) will require odometer disclosure. Starting on January 1, 2031, any vehicle that is less than 20 model years old will require an odometer disclosure. Previously, the NHTSA required disclosure was for only the first 10 years. Cars older than 2010 are exempt from odometer disclosures.
The seller must remove their license plates before handing the vehicle over to the buyer. If you do not do so, you may be liable for any violations after the buyer has taken possession of the vehicle. Alabama requires that you either transfer your plates to a different vehicle that you own or surrender them to your local licensing official. Alabama law requires the buyer of the vehicle to obtain a new license plate within 20 calendar days from the date of sale.
If you return the plates, you’ll need to include Form MV 31-7A-5 which is the Request for Registration Revocation officially ending your registration of the car in question. When that process is complete, make sure to cancel your insurance as soon as possible after you’ve returned or transferred your plates, so you don’t continue paying to insure a car that you no longer own.
For more information or other vehicle forms, visit Alabama’s Motor Vehicle Division website.
There are a few documents which sellers of vehicles in Alabama will need:
It depends on the county. There is no state-wide mandate for a bill of sale with private vehicle purchases, but Alabama’s biggest county (Baldwin County) does require one. Check with your local county to confirm.
Yes, you must either transfer your plates to a different vehicle that you own or surrender them to a licensing official along with Form MV 32-7A-5.
No. Alabama only allows a maximum of two owners to be named on any passenger vehicle title.
No. When you privately sell a car in Alabama, the Bill of Sale does not need to be notarized.
Technically, yes although most people don’t do this. It should have the basic vehicle information like the year, make, and model plus the odometer reading, the purchase price, date of sale, VIN and signatures from both the buyer and the seller. To be safe, check with your local county to find out if a bill of sale is required since the rules vary from county to county.
No. A notary does not need to witness the buyer and seller signing the title during a private vehicle sale in Alabama.
No. Any motor vehicle which is 35 model years old or older does not need a title in Alabama.
No. Alabama’s Department of Revenue does not offer same day vehicle title printing.
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