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Tag Renewal Information 

Once a vehicle is registered in your name, it is necessary to renew the registration each year according to the renewal schedule listed below:

Renewal Month First Letter of Last Name
January A and D
February B
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, V, W, X, Y, and Z
October National Guard
October/November Trucks, Commercial & Fleet

All vehicles in Alabama are personal property.  Property tax is paid in advance from the time of registration until your renewal month.


To renew your registration you must show previous tag receipt in your name or a renewal card which, is has been mailed to you as a courtesy by the License Commissioner's Office.  Even if you do not receive a courtesy notice, it is your responsibility to renew your tag before the expiration date.

Note:  Please notice the decal on your license plate.  If the month on your plate has passed, your tag is expired.  Example - if your plate shows August, the renewal must be made before September 1st.  For more information, contact William Smith.

New Law in Effect

A new Alabama Law has changed the policies and procedures surrounding the renewal and transfer of your motor vehicle license plates. Effective January 1, 1998 the plate no longer goes with the vehicle.  In the past, certain distinctive and personalized vehicle plates were transferred from vehicle to vehicle if the owner acquired a different vehicle or, in some cases, if the owner wanted to put the plate on another vehicle he or she owned. However, according to the new law, an owner who trades vehicles must remove the license plates from the previously owned vehicle and bring it to the license issuing official to be transferred to the newly acquired vehicle. Also, if a vehicle is sold or disposed of otherwise, the owner is required to remove the plate. If the owner sells his vehicle, or if it is totally destroyed or junked, he may transfer the plate to a vehicle of the same classification he already owns that is not currently licensed, or to a vehicle of the same classification or higher classification he acquires later in the license year. There are certain limitations and the owner may not transfer the plate to another vehicle he or she owns unless the licensed vehicle has changed ownership.  In the event an owner trades vehicles, the transfer of the plate is the transfer of registration only. The registration follows the owner, while the ad valorem tax follows the vehicle. This means that an owner must pay the ad valorem tax that is due on the newly acquired vehicle at the time the tag is transferred.  You must keep either an original tag registration form (tag receipt) or a same-sized facsimile in your vehicle at all times. You may be asked to present this form by law enforcement officers at any time. Please note that your tag registration form is not your vehicle title. We do not recommend that you keep your original title in your vehicle under any circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions About Renewals

I just bought a used car from an individual. How do I transfer the tag?

On 1982 and newer vehicles you must apply for title transfer by bringing the current Alabama title (signed correctly by the previous owner) along with the bill of sale, tag number or previous tag receipt. On vehicle models prior to 1982, transfer can be made with a bill of sale, tag receipt or tag number. Transfers can be made at the Lauderdale County License Commissioner's Office.

I just bought a new (or used) car from a dealer. Will they handle all the paperwork?

The dealer is required to complete your application for title and collect sales tax due at their location. However, you must bring the title application to the License Commissioner's Office to actually register the vehicle. It is your responsibility to make sure the vehicle is registered.

Can I pay for and pick up a tag for someone else?

Yes, if you have permission from the individual. This would include a power of attorney from the individual. Any hardship or medical cases should be pre-approved by the License Commissioner's Office.

Why are there differences in the cost of renewing my tag from year to year?

There may be several reasons for differences in the cost of your tag renewal. (1) Normally, a vehicle's value will depreciate, reducing the assessed value of the vehicle. You may have moved into a new jurisdiction with a different tax rate. The tag you bought last year may have been pro-rated for a partial year. If so, your assessment this year will be higher since it will reflect a full year.

What is the penalty for late renewal of a tag?

You should renew your tag by the last working day of your renewal month. The penalty for failure to renew within the time allowed by law is $19.00 plus 12% annualized interest to the date of payment.

I am paying by check. Who should my check be made payable to?

Your check should be payable to: Rodney Pettus, License Commissioner. (No counter checks or out of county/state checks are acceptable.)