Paperwork When Buying a Car in South Carolina

Paperwork Required to Buy a Car in South Carolina

When buying a car in South Carolina, you must ensure the seller provides you with the paperwork you’ll to register the vehicle. These documents include a vehicle title and bill of sale, among other forms.

You’ll submit all of this paperwork to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), along with the required fees, to register your car.

Keep reading for more information about the paperwork you need when you buy a car in South Carolina.

Paperwork for South Carolina Car Buyers

When you buy a used car from a dealer or private seller, they are required by South Carolina law to hand over certain documents.

One of the first and most important documents the seller must give you is the vehicle title. Both you and the seller must fill out the reverse side of the vehicle title.

The seller should also give you a bill of sale if there is no space on the title to document required information, such as the purchase price or the odometer reading.

Title Transfers in South Carolina

To have the certificate of title correctly signed over to you, be sure that:

  • You and the seller complete the reverse side of the vehicle’s title certificate.
  • The seller has signed the title.
  • The odometer reading is documented on the title.
  • Any current liens are listed.
  • The purchase price is listed.

NOTE: If any of the information above cannot be included on the title, you will also need a bill of sale.

When you register the car with the SC DMV (see "SC Vehicle Registration" below), you will also:

  • Transfer the title.
  • Pay the $15 title transfer fee.
  • Pay the 5% sales tax (up to $300).

For more information, see our page Title Transfers in South Carolina.

Missing Title

You should NOT buy a car without a title, as you must have the title to register the vehicle.

If the title is missing, the seller should apply for a duplicate title before selling you the car.

SC Vehicle Registration

You must title and register your car within 45 days of the date you buy it by transferring your license plates from your old car OR getting new license plates.

You can title and register your vehicle:

  • In person at your local DMV office.
  • By mail. Send all paperwork to:
    • SC DMV
    • P.O. Box 1498
    • 10311 Wilson Blvd.
    • Blythewood, SC 29016

To register your used car in South Carolina, you will need:

See our page Register a Car in South Carolina for more information.

Vehicle History Reports

Vehicle history reports are increasingly becoming necessary when purchasing used cars to help buyers avoid misleading sellers and problem vehicles.

A report usually includes:

  • The accurate mileage for the vehicle.
  • Accidents the car was involved in.
  • Damages the vehicle has sustained.

When purchasing a used car, obtaining a vehicle history report helps you confirm the accuracy of the information that the seller gives you.

South Carolina Lemon Law

South Carolina’s lemon law covers issues that make a vehicle inoperable or decrease its value. Since problems must occur during the first 12 months or 12,000 miles (whichever comes first), used cars are generally not covered.

If you think you have purchased a lemon, you must contact the manufacturer to try and repair the problem.

For more information, see our page Lemon Law in South Carolina.

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