Buying or Selling a Car
Consumer Tip: Before you buy a used vehicle, check the title history. You are encouraged to ensure that the vehicle's seller has the title before paying for a used vehicle. You're also encouraged to see if the vehicle you're buying needs to be fixed due to a recall.
Buying a Car
South Carolina law requires that you register your newly purchased vehicle within 45 days of the purchase date.
If you buy your vehicle from a dealer, the dealer will generally take care of the titling and the registration of the vehicle for you.
If you buy a vehicle from a person, make sure the person has the title, in his or her name, to be able to sign over to you. You will need that title and the items below to "officially" put the title in your name.
- Back of the title is completed to show you as the buyer and the person whose name is on the title/selling you the vehicle as the seller
- First assignment completed on title: buyer’s name and address, lienholder information (if applicable), odometer reading, sales price, date of sale, seller’s signature, buyer’s signature. If assignment on title does not have section for sales price, a bill of sale must accompany paperwork.
- Completed Title Application (SCDMV Form 400)
- Title fee
- Infrastructure maintenance fee or sales tax
- This amount is 5% of the purchase price, but no more than $500. Most vehicles owe IMF instead of sales tax. Generally, the SCDMV will determine if you pay one or the other depending on the type of vehicle or item you're purchasing.
If you do not have an SC license or ID and want the vehicle to have an SC title, you must also complete the Statement of Vehicle Operation in South Carolina (SCDMV Form TI-006).
Most people who buy a new car want to "register" the vehicle. "Registering" your vehicle is the same thing as putting a license plate on it to use it on the road. When you buy the vehicle, to get a license plate for it, you'll do all of the following:
- Contact your county office to have a property tax bill generated
- Pay your tax bill to the county and provide the SCDMV with the paid property tax receipt in your name
- If you want to put a license plate you already have on the back of your new vehicle, make sure you note that on the Title Application (SCDMV Form 400). Plates cannot transfer from one person to another person if the original person is not on the vehicle title.
- Registration fee
- If you're putting a license plate on a hybrid or electric vehicle, you'll owe an additional fee.
You may visit an SCDMV branch office with the above documents to title and register your vehicle at the same time.
You may also mail (certified only) your documents and the appropriate payment, made out to the SCDMV, to the address below:
Titles and Registration
PO Box 1498
Blythewood, SC 29016-0024
Selling A Vehicle
If you hold the title to your vehicle and sell or transfer it to another person, you must sign the title over to the buyer and include all of the following on the back of your title:
- Odometer reading at the time of sale
- Purchase date
- Selling price
Notice of Vehicle Sold
When you sell the vehicle, you must notify the SCDMV. You must complete the Notice of Vehicle Sold (SCDMV Form 416) and drop it off at any branch office or mail it to the address below:
PO Box 1498
Blythewood, SC 29016-0036
Completing this form does not mean you've legally transferred ownership of the vehicle. It is intended for the protection of the last registered owner until the actual transfer of ownership is completed by the person to whom you sold the vehicle.
License Plate Return
If you sell your vehicle and do not transfer the license plate to another vehicle, you must also surrender the plate.
If your license plate is expired, you do not need to surrender your license plate. Only active license plates can be surrendered.
If the person who bought the vehicle from you is making payments on it, you must complete Section F of the Title Application (SCDMV Form 400) that the buyer completes. You will be considered the lienholder for that vehicle. The title will be mailed to you.
Once the buyer pays you in full, you will sign off on the lien and the buyer will be able to obtain a clear title from a branch office.
The same information above applies when you're adding or removing the name of an owner.
Find out more about recording and releasing a lien.