South Carolina boat registration promotes safe boating practices that benefit all boaters who choose to operate their vessels on the state’s waters. SC vessel registration is easy for most boaters to obtain and the instructions are detailed for you below. From how to renew your boat registration in South Carolina to common exemptions in SC, the answers can be found within the following sections.

Requirements for Boater Registration in South Carolina

“What do you need to register a boat in South Carolina?” is a question many boaters in the state may ask themselves when it comes time to register a boat. Requirements to register a boat in SC includes submitting a certificate of title in the seller’s name, a Bill of Sale and completed application form. The South Carolina boat registration form is accessible online and should be filled out in full.

If you have lost your boat title, apply for a duplicate title by filling out the certified true Bill of Sale and follow the steps provided. Instructions for registering a newly-purchased vessel require you to notify the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Watercraft Division in writing within 30 days of any change in ownership. All completed registration forms and fees, as well as payment for excise taxes, should be submitted to the Boater Registration office.

Exemptions From Boat Registration and Titling in South Carolina

When it comes common boat registration exemptions in South Carolina, there are very few exceptions, there are very few exemptions you need to be aware of in the state. Nonetheless, “Is your boat exempt from registration in South Carolina?” is still a common question among those seeking registration. The list of exemptions include the following:

  • Non-motorized vessels, including row boats, paddle boats and sail boats.
  • Vessels documented with the US Coast Guard.
  • Vessels that are temporarily on South Carolina waters (up to 60 days) but have valid registration in another state.

South Carolina Boat Insurance

Boat insurance rates in South Carolina vary, as do other forms of insurance, but if you have successfully completed boater safety certification, you may be able to get a reduced rate on boating insurance. While you can request boat insurance quotes in South Carolina, boaters are not required to have insurance to register or operate a boat in state waters. Similar to auto insurance, there are many boat insurance programs in South Carolina providing various levels of coverage.

South Carolina Boat Registration Fees

How much does it cost to register a boat in South Carolina?” may be one of the most common questions among boaters when they obtain a new boat. Boat registration fees in South Carolina must be paid in full at the time of application to process registration. The registration costs vary depending on the type of vessel, as outlined below:

  • New South Carolina Title and Registration: $40.00
  • Renew Expired Watercraft Registration or Registration Expiring in the Current Year: $30.00
  • Transfer South Carolina Title & Registration: $16.00
  • Watercraft Title (unpowered vessels & sailboats only): $10.00
  • New South Carolina Outboard Motor Title: $10.00
  • Transfer South Carolina Outboard Motor Title: $10.00
  • Duplicate or Corrected Title: $5.00
  • Duplicate Registration Card: $5.00
  • Duplicate Watercraft or Motor Decal: $5.00

Note that registration instructions require that boat owners pay casual excise tax on all boat purchases, except for those between immediate family members. This tax is equal to 5% of the purchase price (maximum $500) and must be paid upon applying for registration.

Renewing Your South Carolina Boat Registration

Qualifying South Carolina boaters may renew boat registration online in South Carolina via the SC Department of Natural Resources online customer service portal within 100 days their expiration. If you are wondering how to renew your boat registration in South Carolina without using the internet, note that you can also renew in person, by fax or by mail. A boat registration renewal in South Carolina is valid for a three-year period of time.

Complete the application form for boat registration renewal in SC and mail it to:

SC Department of Natural Resources
P. O. Box 167
Columbia, SC 29202

Or Fax to 803-734-4138

Replacing Your South Carolina Boat Registration

You must replace a boat registration in South Carolina whenever the original documents are damaged or lost. To complete the process for registration replacement, you must fill out the same application required for all other boat registration services. To replace a boat registration online, follow the online prompts to the SC Department of Natural Resources online customer service portal. South Carolina boat registration decals may also be replaced in the same way.

Boater Safety Courses in South Carolina

Boaters may take a boater safety course in South Carolina once proper registration is obtained. Safety courses are available online or in person at a SC DNR approved site. Upon completing the official boater safety course in South Carolina, graduates of the program will receive an SC boating safety certificate.

Completing an official boater safety course may reduce your boat insurance premium. Additionally, by successfully completing the education courses, boaters under the age of 16 may legally operate a boat or PWC powered by an over 15 horsepower engine.

South Carolina Boater License

Obtaining an in-person or online boating license is not required in South Carolina. In fact, South Carolina’s only boater license requirement is that boaters younger than 16 operate vessels with engines under 15 horsepower. South Carolina law enforcement is more concerned that boaters obtain proper boat registration, properly display decals on the outside of their vessels and keep their boaters registration cards with them at all times while on the water.

Last updated on Monday, March 9 2020.