License Plates & Placards in South Carolina

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SUMMARY: South Carolina License Plates

Apply for a license plate in South Carolina by registering your vehicle with the SC DMV. To renew your tags and get a valid expiration decal, simply renew your registration (online, by mail, or in person). If you sell your car, you can transfer your plates to a new vehicle. If your license plates become lost, stolen, or damaged, order replacement plates as soon as possible.

Interested in a personalized or specialty plate? See our Types of Specialty Plates and Specialty Plate Applications in South Carolina pages for helpful information.

Do you need disabled parking plates? Our Disability Plates and Placards page has more details, including application information.

Keep reading for important details about license plates and tags in South Carolina.

Types of SC License Plates

The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issues license plates for cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other vehicles.

You must display a license plate on the back of your vehicle with month and year decals showing when your tag expires.

South Carolina's standard license plate features the state's palmetto symbol; however, there are other design options available with different backgrounds and personalization. Learn more about these license plates on our Special Plate Types page. For complete application details, see our Special Plates Application page.

The SC DMV also issues disabled parking plates to those who are eligible. Learn more about requirements and applications on our Disability Placards and Plates page.

Temporary License Plates

Temporary tags are valid for 45 days and allow you to drive while waiting for your SC license plate to arrive.

While using these tags, keep proof of ownership in your vehicle, such as:

  • A bill of sale.
  • A purchase receipt.
  • The vehicle title assigned to you.

You can get a temporary tag:

Apply for Vehicle License Plates

You must apply for South Carolina license plates by registering your vehicle with the SC DMV. This must be done within:

  • 45 days of moving to SC.
  • 45 days of buying a vehicle.

The SC DMV accepts registration applications by mail or in person.

See our Vehicle Registration page for complete details, including fees and document requirements.

Renew South Carolina Tags

Your SC tags and registration are valid for 2 years at a time and must be renewed before they expire. 

You can renew your license plate:

  • Online.
  • By mail.
  • In person.

When you renew your plates, you'll get a new expiration decal to put over the old one.

For more information, see our Registration Renewal page.

Replace Missing or Damaged Tags

If your car's license plate is stolen, lost or damaged, you can order a replacement online at the SC DMV website.

You will need:

  • Your vehicle registration certificate.
  • A VISA, MasterCard, or Discover card for payment.

Be sure your mailing address is correct, as your replacements will be sent to the address on file with the South Carolina DMV.

For fees, alternative ways to order replacements, or other questions, contact the SC DMV:

  • By phone at (803) 896-5000.
    OR
  • By e-mail to help@scdmvonline.com.

NOTE: You may want to report lost or stolen plates to the police to prevent fraudulent use, but a police report is not required to order replacements.

Transfer & Surrender Tags

You can transfer SC license plates from your old vehicle to a new one you own when you register it. The transfer fee is $10 PLUS taxes and title fees.

You MUST surrender your license plates if you:

  • Move to another state.
    OR
  • Cancel your SC car insurance.

You can surrender your plates:

Property Tax Refunds

If you surrender your license plates to the DMV, you may be eligible for a refund of the property taxes paid as part of your vehicle registration fees.

Scenarios includes:

  • You've moved out of state.
  • You've sold the vehicle or transferred its title.
  • You returned a leased vehicle.

Instructions vary based on your specific circumstances, but you will at minimum need your receipt from returning your license plates to the DMV. Contact your local county auditor for details in your county.

Fees for South Carolina Plates

The SC license plate fees below DO NOT include vehicle taxes, service fees, or other fees that you may owe the SC DMV.

  • License plate (registration) fee (paid every 2 years):
    • Passenger vehicle: $24.
    • Motorcycle: $10.
    • RV: $24.
  • Temporary tag: $5.
  • Transfer fee: $10.

Forms

Application for 45 Day Temporary License Plate - 45-A

Apply for temporary South Carolina license plates on a vehicle you recently purchased and have not yet registered.

Application to Replace License Plate or Expiration Year Decal - 452

Request replacement South Carolina license plates OR year decals from the DMV.

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