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If you have recently purchased a vehicle through a dealership or a private seller, you will need to apply for a car registration. All vehicles in your possession must be registered in your name to be driven legally in your state. You cannot typically apply for a new vehicle registration online or by mail. You must visit a DMV office in person to register a car. To make sure that you are fully prepared for the process, download our informative digital guide. Our guide contains everything you need to know to register your vehicle with ease. You will also learn how to replace or renew your car registration, and how to change your name or address.

2. By Mail

Some states allow residents to register cars by mail. However, these applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements, such as temporarily residing out of state or having purchased the vehicle out of state. To obtain your new car registration by mail, you will need to send your completed application and all necessary documents (such as proof of ID, a bill of sale, an insurance card, etc.) to your local DMV office. You will also need to send in a check or money order for the full payment amount. Due to mailing and processing times, delays are common with the mail-in application method. It may take several weeks for you to receive your new car registration.

3. In Person at a DMV Office

In most instances, you will be required to get your car registration in person at a local DMV office. You must submit a filled-out application, proof of your identity, evidence of the car purchase and proof of auto insurance coverage for the vehicle. Additionally, you need to provide payment for all applicable fees, such as registration fees, titling fees and state taxes. Because many car owners are not sure which forms are required or which fees must be paid, application delays are common at the DMV. Additionally, any mistakes on DMV forms will add to your potential wait time for receiving your new registration.


Motorists need to perform a new car registration in South Carolina if they want to legally operate a motor vehicle in the state. Overall, the Department of Motor Vehicles (SC DMV) issues car registration and title documents to residents who perform the application procedure successfully. To do so, motorists need to satisfy certain car registration requirements and eligibility criteria before beginning the application process.

In order to get a vehicle registration in SC, motorists need to prepare a specific set of documentation, pay the applicable fees and satisfy the mandatory requirements that pertain to their specific situation. In most cases, drivers will have to obtain a car insurance and have their vehicles inspected prior to registering their vehicles through the SC DMV. Moreover, the DMV registration procedure may vary based on the residential status of the motorists, or based on where they are stationed on active military duty. For more information about how to register a car in South Carolina, continue reading the following sections.

South Carolina Car Registration Requirements

A South Carolina DMV registration procedure mandates residents to submit certain documents to the DMV. Furthermore, the DMV has determined car registration requirements that motorists must satisfy in order to complete the application procedure successfully. These requirements include paying for the applicable fees, acquiring the minimum auto insurance coverage and inspecting certain types of vehicles.

Car Insurance Requirements for Registering a Car in South Carolina

When registering a car in South Carolina, motorists will be required to provide proof of an auto insurance policy. To obtain a vehicle registration, drivers need to provide the name of their insurer and obtain the following minimum liability insurance coverage:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury per person
  • $50,000 for bodily injury of all persons in one accident
  • $25,000 for property damage

Vehicle Inspection/Smog Inspection/VIN Inspection Requirements in South Carolina

Prior to getting a South Carolina new car registration and title, motorists are required to perform a vehicle inspection on their cars. In general, the DMV mandates applicants for car registration credentials to provide an official certificate of inspection, along with other mandatory paperwork. Moreover, licensed inspection stations in the state must also issue an approval for the motor vehicle in question.

Registering a Vehicle in South Carolina

In order to obtain a new car registration in South Carolina, motorists must also apply for a certificate of title. As part of the application procedure, residents will have to visit a nearby DMV office in person or send the documents via mail. In general, motorists cannot get a car registration online. For a driver to register a car in SC, he or she will have to provide the following paperwork:

  • A completed application form
  • Proof of car insurance, in order to prove the name of the insurance company
  • Certificate of inspection, if required
  • Original paid vehicle property tax receipt
  • Payment for the vehicle title and car registration fees

Note: Prior to the expiration date of the car registration, motorists will be required to perform a vehicle registration renewal procedure.

How to Register a Car in South Carolina as a New Resident

New state residents need to obtain a new car registration as soon as they move to South Carolina, as well as apply for a SC drivers license through the DMV. Prior to beginning the vehicle registration procedure, motorists will have to pay for any imposed property taxes. Moreover, they need to update their vehicle insurance company with the new SC address, if the company is licensed to do business in South Carolina. Then, motorists must take the original paid property tax to the SCDMV along with the following documentation:

  • A properly filled-out application form
  • Out-of-state title and registration, if applicable
  • Name and address of the company that holds a lien, if there is lien on the vehicle
  • Proof of identity:
  • Liability insurance company information
  • Power of attorney, if leasing the vehicle and if the application form is signed by a lessee on behalf of the lessor
  • Original paid vehicle property tax receipt from the county treasurer’s office
  • Payment for the infrastructure maintenance fee (IMF)
  • Payment for the title and registration fees

Note: New residents who apply for a car registration but do not hold a valid SC learner’s permit, drivers license or identification card must complete a “Statement of Vehicle Operation” form instead.

Vehicle Registration for Military Members in South Carolina

The application procedure for a vehicle registration in South Carolina may vary slightly for motorists who are on active military duty. Military service members who own vehicles and are on active duty in SC must submit the “Statement of Vehicle Operation” form, a valid out-of-state identification card and one of the following: military ID card, orders indicating duties in SC or a Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) document showing the deployment in South Carolina.

Temporary DMV Registration in South Carolina

A temporary registration in South Carolina is an available option for motorists who need short-term license plates. According to their specific situation, drivers may apply for a 30-day or a 45-day temporary registration credential. Each of these certificates will require drivers to fill out and submit the proper application form.

South Carolina License Plates

At the end of the South Carolina DMV registration application procedure, motorists will receive standard license plates that must be placed on their vehicles. A regular license plate in SC has a classic design of the state flag.

On the other hand, residents registering a car may also decide to obtain other types of license plates, depending on their personal preference.

South Carolina Car Registration Fees

The South Carolina car registration cost may vary based on the type of the motor vehicle that motorists own. Below is given a list of certain standard car registration fees in SC:

  • Type of motor vehicle:
    • $40 for passenger cars
    • $120 road use fee for electric vehicles
    • $60 road use fee for hybrid vehicles
Last updated on Monday, December 10 2018.

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