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  • Title Transfers in South Carolina

    What is a Title Transfer?

    A certificate of title is a legal document proving official ownership of a vehicle. If you become the new owner of a vehicle in South Carolina, you have 45 days to transfer the title to your name. Typical reasons for title transfers include:

    • Buying or selling a vehicle
    • Paying off a car loan
    • Transferring a vehicle to a family member
    • Gifting or donating a vehicle
    • Inheriting a vehicle
    • Changing your name

    Selling a Vehicle

    When you sell a vehicle, deciding on a fair price can be difficult. To demonstrate to prospective buyers what your car is worth, consider obtaining a vehicle history report (VHR). Having proof of conscientious maintenance or showing that the vehicle rarely needed repairs can go a long way toward convincing buyers that they're getting a good deal. Learn more about these reports in our section on VHRs.

    As soon as you've found a buyer and negotiated a fair price, here's how to transfer the title and other paperwork to the new owner:

    1. Locate your title and fill out the top portion of the back side. You'll also need to complete and sign a Bill of Sale if the existing title was issued before June 19, 1989.
    2. Sign and date the title. If a lienholder is listed on the title, you must have documentation that proves the lien has been removed. Also, if you don't have the title, see our section on replacing a lost title.
    3. Have the buyer sign and date the title.
    4. Remove the license plate from the car. You then have the option of transferring the plate to another vehicle, or turning the plate in to the DMV. If you choose to turn in the plate, do so as soon as possible or you may face a fine up to $400.
    5. Give the signed title to the buyer, who will complete the title transfer and registration at the DMV.
    6. Complete and sign a Notice of Vehicle Sold. Turn it in at the DMV, or mail it to:

    Department of Motor Vehicles
    P.O. Box 1498
    Blythewood, SC 29016

    NOTE: Even if the vehicle's title was issued after June 19, 1989, it's still beneficial to complete a bill of sale when you sell your vehicle. It can protect both you, the seller, as well as the buyer. Learn more in our Bill of Sale section.

    Buying a Vehicle

    New Cars

    If you purchase a new car from a dealer, the dealer will typically handle all of the paperwork for the new title.

    Still looking for that car of your dreams? Find exactly what you want by shopping online for a new car.

    Used Cars

    Buying a used car from a private party can be risky if you're not prepared. Before you sign on the dotted line, research the various auto financing options that work within your budget. Also, check out a range of car insurance companies and policies to get the best deal. Compare insurance quotes online at our Insurance Center.

    Once you have your eye on that perfect ride, make sure you learn as much as you can about the vehicle's past life. Consider ordering a Vehicle History Report online.

    When you're satisfied you've made the right choice, here's how to transfer the title into your name:

    1. Have the seller sign and date the title. If the title lists a lienholder, the seller needs to provide documentation that proves the lien is no longer valid. Vehicles titled before June 19, 1989 will also need a completed Bill of Sale.
    2. Sign and date the title.
    3. Get the title (and bill of sale, if applicable) and current registration certificate from the seller.
    4. Verify that the seller has removed the license plate from the vehicle.
    5. Visit your local DMV to submit the following paperwork and fees:

    You'll typically register the vehicle at the time of title transfer. Registration requires additional fees and taxes. Learn more in our section on Car Registration.

    Removing a Lien

    Once you've paid off your car loan, you can transfer the title from the lienholder to your own name. In most cases, the lien holder signs off on the title and sends it to you upon completion of the loan payments.

    Transferring to Family

    According to South Carolina statutes and for purposes of title transfers, "family" is defined as:

    • Spouse
    • Parent
    • Child
    • Sibling
    • Grandparent
    • Grandchild

    Transfer of a vehicle between family members makes the recipient exempt from paying sales tax on the vehicle. To transfer the title, follow the steps below.

    1. Have the registered owner locate the existing title and enter the mileage.
    2. The registered owner should sign and date the title. If the title lists a lienholder, the owner needs to provide documentation that proves the lien is no longer valid.
    3. Have the new owner sign and date the title.
    4. Remove the license plates from the car.
    5. The new owner should take the following paperwork and fees to the DMV:
    6. The original owner should complete and sign a Notice of Vehicle Sold (Form 416), then turn it in at the DMV or mail it to:

    Department of Motor Vehicles
    P.O. Box 1498
    Blythewood, SC 29016

    Gifting a Vehicle

    Similar to transfer between family members, gifting a vehicle to someone allows the recipient to be exempt from paying sales tax on the vehicle. If you receive a vehicle as a gift, transfer the title to your name by following the steps below.

    1. Have the registered owner locate the existing title and enter the mileage.
    2. The registered owner should sign and date the title. If the title lists a lienholder, the owner needs to provide documentation that proves the lien is no longer valid.
    3. Sign and date the title.
    4. Remove the license plates from the car.
    5. Take the following paperwork and fees to the DMV:
    6. The original owner should complete and sign a Notice of Vehicle Sold (Form 416), then turn it in at the DMV or mail it to:

    Department of Motor Vehicles
    P.O. Box 1498
    Blythewood, SC 29016

    Your title application will also serve as an application to register your car. Registration fees apply, and you'll also be responsible for paying vehicle property tax in your county of residence before attempting to register the car at the DMV. For more details, see our section on Car Registration.

    Donating a Vehicle

    You can choose to donate your car to a wide range of charitable organizations. Before you donate, get the details in our section on donating a car.

    Many times, your vehicle donation will be tax-deductible. To ensure you're getting the maximum tax credits, consider consulting a tax attorney for advice.

    Inheriting a Vehicle

    When it comes to inheritance of property or handling a loved one's estate, don't try to do it alone. A reputable probate attorney can help you through the often-complex laws and make the entire process smoother.

    If you inherit a vehicle, transfer the title by following the steps below.

    1. Sign the existing title and enter the mileage as the legal heir. If more than one heir is named in regard to the vehicle, all named heirs must sign the title.
    2. If the vehicle was titled prior to June 19, 1989, all heirs must also complete and sign a Bill of Sale.
    3. Remove the license plates from the car and turn them in at the DMV.
    4. Take the following paperwork and fees to the DMV:

    When you inherit a vehicle, you will not be required to pay sales tax. However, South Carolina does require you to present current insurance information at the time of registration. Get the best deal by comparing quotes online at our Insurance Center.

    For more information about inheriting a vehicle, visit the South Carolina DMV website.

    Making Name Corrections

    Changing a Name

    1. Within 10 days of changing your name, complete an Application for Name Change and/or Address Change, Date of Birth and/or Social Security Correction, or Special Mailing (Form 4057).
    2. You will also need a completed Application for Certificate of Title and Registration for Motor Vehicle or Manufactured Home/Mobile Home (Form 400).
    3. Turn in the applications and proof of your name change―such as a court order or marriage license―at the DMV, along with your $15.00 title fee. You can also send the application, payment, and copies of documents to:

    DMV Alternative Media Office
    P.O. Box 1498
    Blythewood, SC 29016

    Don't forget to update your other DMV documents, such as your driver's license and registration certificate. Obtaining a vital record can help streamline the process. Learn more in our section on changing your name.

    Deleting a Name

    1. Both you and the person whose name you're deleting must sign the title as sellers. Sign your name in the buyer's section.
    2. Take the signed title and a $15.00 title fee to your local DMV or mail the paperwork and fee to:

    DMV Alternative Media Office
    P.O. Box 1498
    Blythewood, SC 29016

    Adding a Name

    1. Both you and the person whose name you're adding must sign the title as buyers. Sign your name in the seller's section.
    2. Take the signed title and a $15.00 title fee to your local DMV or mail the paperwork and fee to:

    DMV Alternative Media Office
    P.O. Box 1498
    Blythewood, SC 29016

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