South Carolina law requires that motor vehicle owners must register their vehicle with the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles before taking it on the road. Both new and second-hand vehicles must be registered, regardless of whether they are purchased from a dealer or an individual. In addition, new South Carolina residents who have registered their vehicle in another state must register their vehicle in South Carolina. The initial vehicle registration must be done in person, and registration renewals must be done every two years, either in person, online or by mail.
If you are registering a motor vehicle in South Carolina for the first time, you must complete the following steps:
- Complete a vehicle title/registration form.
- Complete a Title or Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin.
- Visit your local DMV office, and bring the completed title/registration form with you, along with the above stated documents. In addition, you will need to provide proof of insurance, and the odometer reading, if the vehicle is less than 10 years old.
- For vehicles that have been registered in another state, you must also bring the original, out-of-state title. If the title is unavailable, bring the registration document, along with proof of sales tax payment.
When registering your vehicle at the local DMV office, you will be required to pay certain fees, typically as follows:
- The registration fee, which varies depending on the manufacturer's model year or the vehicle's total weight.
- Title application fee. Depending on the county, the title application fee is usually $15.
- South Carolina residents are required to pay a 5 percent casual sales tax as well for new vehicles.
RENEWING YOUR VEHICLE REGISTRATION
Owners of motor vehicles in South Carolina are required to renew their vehicle registration every two years, and can do so in person, online or by mail. See our Registration Renewal section for complete details.
- If you are a non-resident active duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces or a non-resident full-time student attending a South Carolina college or university, you may renew your vehicle registration online (available for certain counties only) or by mail. If you have any questions, contact the DMV at help@SCdmvonline.com.
- The process for registering a motorcycle is generally the same as a car registration; however, there are different procedures for boat registration and custom car registration.
- Auto Insurance is needed to legally operate all vehicles in South Carolina.
- See also Renewing Your Vehicle Registration.
- See also Title Transfers and Car Insurance.