Updated on August 15, 2021
To drive in South Carolina, you don’t have to pass an emissions inspection like in other states, but car insurance is a must. Your insurance policy coverage is also needed for vehicle tags and documents. If you’re caught driving without insurance, you can be fined up to $200.00, face 30 days in jail, and have your driver license plus registration suspended. The same goes for the second time you’re caught. But on your third offense, you may be on your way for six months in jail.
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Save yourself the hassles: make sure to register your car within 45 days of buying it. Continue reading to learn more about registering your vehicle in South Carolina.
South Carolina Vehicle Registration Renewal Guide
How to Renew a Car Registration in South Carolina
Losing or damaging your license plates, registration, or stickers can be frustrating. Falling victim to theft is even more upsetting. If you’re dealing with any of these situations, it is important to request replacements as quickly as possible.
In South Carolina, it is illegal to operate a vehicle without valid registration, current plates, and license plate stickers. Fortunately, the process for replacing these items is relatively simple. If you have any questions concerning the process, you may contact the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles at 803-896-5000.
The state of South Carolina requires residents to renew their vehicle registrations every two years. A renewal notice will be sent out by the Department of Motor Vehicles a few weeks before the registration is going to expire.
Typically, registration renewal will be due during the month that the vehicle was first registered. The notice will contain the following:
- Vehicle property tax.
- Renewal fee.
- Vehicle information.
- Insurance verification.
South Carolina Online Vehicle Registration Renewal Options
There are several counties in South Carolina that allow online registration renewal. The following counties currently allow online renewals:
Renewing Your South Carolina Vehicle Registration By Mail
Those who live in any other county will need to renew their vehicle registrations either in person or through the mail. To renew online you will need to provide your license plate number, insurance policy number, and a valid Discover, MasterCard, or Visa.
Renewing Your Registration In Person In South Carolina
In order to renew your registration in person you will need to visit your local DMV office with the following:
- Renewal notice or current registration certificate.
- Payment in the form of either cash, money order, check, or a major credit card. (some branches do not accept credit card payments so make sure to call ahead).
- Proof of auto insurance.
- Driver’s license.
Replacement Vehicle Registration vs. Registration Renewal
What’s the difference between registration renewal and replacement vehicle registration in South Carolina?
Renewing your vehicle registration is not the same a replacing it. If you are approaching the expiration date on your vehicle’s registration card, it is time to renew. To do so, you will need to contact your local DMV to request the required forms and to furnish any applicable fees.
If your license plate, tag, or registration has been lost, damaged, or stolen, you will need to request a replacement. You will need these items should you be pulled over during a routine traffic stop.
How to Replace a Lost or Stolen License Plate Sticker In South Carolina
If you have discovered that your license plate sticker or plates have been stolen, it is important to contact local law enforcement promptly. You may file a report with your local police to report the incident and protect yourself from any further illegal activity.
The state of South Carolina does not require that you file a police report for stolen items, however, doing so can protect you from fraud and identity theft. Once you have filed the report, you will need to contact your local DMV to request replacements.
South Carolina Online Replacement Car Registration Options
In South Carolina, you can request a replacement registration card online. You may also request replacement car tags and license plates.
If you’re wondering how to replace your vehicle registration, follow these steps:
- Before requesting replacements, be sure your registration and tags are up-to-date. If they are expired, you must take care of that first.
- Fill out the appropriate forms on the registration request page or license plate request page.
- Provide your license plate number.
- You will need information from your registration if you need a new license plate.
- Provide payment of any applicable fees.
How to Replace Your Vehicle Registration In South Carolina
If you would like to request a replacement car tag, registration, or plates, you can also do so by mail and in-person. To request replacements in-person, visit your local DMV office. There, you will need to fill out the appropriate forms, provide your license plate and registration information, and pay any applicable fees.
In South Carolina replacement fees vary based on the reason for replacement, so will need to provide those details as well.
If you choose to request replacements by mail, you will also need to fill out the appropriate forms and supply payment for any applicable fees. Be sure your address is up-to-date, so your replacement items arrive promptly.
Replacing Your Standard License Plates With Specialty Plates
Can I replace my old SC license plates with custom speciality plates?
If you wish to replace your standard-issue plates with specialty plates, you may do so online. You will need your current vehicle registration and a form of payment for any applicable fees. Your registration sticker must be expired, nor must it expire within 90 days from the date of your request.
If you have all the necessary information, you may exchange your current plate for a new one.
If you have any question concerning replacement car registration, stickers, or plates, feel free to contact the South Carolina DMV at 803-896-5000. You may also find additional information online.