Car Registration in South Dakota
Registering a car?
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This page only deals with first-time registrations, so if you're looking for information regarding renewals, please visit our renewal page.
You'll need to register your vehicle if you recently:
- Moved to the state
- Bought a vehicle
- Received a vehicle as a gift
All vehicles―new and used―that are driven on the state's roads need to be registered within 30 days of purchase. If you've just moved to the state, you have 90 days to register your car.
Since the titling and registration processes are closely related, and both take place at a county treasurer's office, you can handle both tasks at the same time.
While you don't need to provide proof of financial responsibility when registering your vehicle, you'll need to have that type of coverage before you can drive your vehicle. Although there are different ways of taking care of this requirement, most drivers choose the auto liability insurance option. Check out our Insurance Center to find carriers and obtain the best coverage.
If you bought your vehicle (new or used) from a dealer, the title process should be taken care of by the dealer. To learn about other situations, consult our Title Transfers section.
To register the vehicle, you'll need the following paperwork:
- Completed Application for Motor Vehicle Title and Registration (Form MV-608).
- Completed Power of Attorney form (only if someone other than the vehicle owner is to sign the registration).
- Completed bill of sale, purchase order, or sales contract (for out-of-state vehicle purchases only).
If you haven't bought the vehicle yet, it's a good idea to purchase a vehicle history report beforehand to help you understand the vehicle's background, and see if you're making a smart decision.
Thanks primarily to the 3% excise tax you'll pay on the purchase price of your vehicle, you'll pay considerably more when you initially register your vehicle than when you renew its registration.
Replacement or Duplicate Documents
There's no fee to replace lost or damaged registrations, stickers, or plates.
After you have the paperwork and payment for your fees ready, you'll need to head to the treasurer's office in the county where you live to register your vehicle.
If you're content with the standard state plate, you'll pick up your plates at the county treasurer's office. Specialty plates arrive in the mail; visit our section on them to see the styles available. And, don't forget about highlighting your plates with the latest frames.
Follow the instructions provided, and place your sticker on the lower right-hand corner of your rear license plate.
Since you pay an excise or property tax when you register your vehicle, you'll eligible to deduct the fee on your federal taxes. Talk to a tax attorney if you need more information on the subject.
Even though you've registered your vehicle, there are still other things to consider. While these aren't requirements, they can help make for a better―and safer― experience.
For starters, think about getting a roadside assistance program and a car emergency kit. You never know what you may encounter after you turn on the ignition, so having both of these will make you more prepared to handle whatever may happen.
Also, if you're a cell-phone user, consider buying a hands-free headset so you can keep your hands on the wheel―where they belong. Of course, you're required to protect your younger passengers with child safety seats.
And, don't forget about the car itself. Finding a skilled mechanic and purchasing an after-market warranty are excellent ways of helping ensure that you'll get many years of reliable use out of your vehicle.
If you have a custom-built car in South Dakota, the registration requirements are the same as for a regular car. Follow the steps outlined above.Other Topics in This Section