Paperwork When Buying a Car in South Dakota

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Buying a car in South Dakota requires some paperwork so that the car can be titled and registered in your name with the South Dakota Department of Revenue, Motor Vehicles Division (MVD).

If you buy a vehicle from a car dealer, they'll take care of the paperwork for you. However, if you buy from a private seller, you are responsible for getting everything you need to title and register the car.

Buying from a Private Seller in SD

Buying a vehicle from an individual instead of a dealer presents a few challenges, as well as some paperwork!

For starters, you'll need to verify that there aren't any liens on the vehicle you're interested in buying. You can do this by taking a look at the title's lien release section. You'll need to get a lien release if there is an active lien, or else you could wind up in a legal mess.

Also, the lien release needs to be attached to the title, unless the county treasurer marks the release on the title.

Make sure that your title has been correctly assigned to you by the seller:

  • Be sure that both you and the seller have filled in the "retail sale" section of the title.
  • If the vehicle is 9 years old or less, the odometer reading section of the title must be completed. If the seller knows that the odometer reading is inaccurate, they must indicate this on the title.
  • If the vehicle is under 7 years old, BOTH the odometer reading section AND damage disclosure sections must be filled out. The disclosure section indicates if the vehicle has sustained over $5,000 in damages due to an accident or other type of single mishap. It doesn't matter whether the damage was fixed or not―it still needs to be reported.

You'll also need to have a completed bill of sale.

South Dakota Registration Penalties

If you don't get your vehicle titled and registered within 30 days, you'll pay $1 for every week you're late, up to a maximum fine of $50. You could also face other penalties and fees for driving an unregistered vehicle.

Delayed Paperwork from a SD Seller

If you haven't received your title from the seller in time to title and register the vehicle, file a complaint MVD at the address listed at the end of this section. Be sure to include a copy of the purchase form or bill of sale.

Bill of Sale

A bill of sale is necessary for registering and titling your vehicle. You can, if needed, conveniently download this form from our Bill of Sale page.

Vehicle History Reports

Though not required, a Vehicle History Report is an important document for used car buyers. Based on a vehicle's unique Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), the report provides information about past accidents and damage to the vehicle, as well as odometer readings and details about events like floods or theft.

Your seller may be honest and up-front about the car you're buying, but a Vehicle History Report allows you the peace of mind to confirm what the seller tells you and that the seller is aware of the car's entire history.

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