License Plates & Placards in South Carolina
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.
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:
- From your vehicle dealer.
- By visiting a SC DMV office and submitting:
- A completed Application for 45-Day Temporary Plates (Form 45-A).
- Payment for the $5 fee.
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:
- 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. If your plate is unreadable you must return the license plate to the DMV and apply to replace it within 10 days. If your plate is stolen you must also apply for a new license plate within 10 days.
You will need:
- Your license plate to be in good standing with the SCDMV.
- 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.
- By e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Cancel your SC car insurance.
You can surrender your plates:
- In person at a SC DMV office.
- By mail to the address listed on the Application to Replace License Plate or Expiration Year Decal (Form 452). You may be eligible for a refund, consult the SC DMV for more information.
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.
- You've moved out of state.
- You've sold the vehicle or transferred its title.
- You returned a leased vehicle.
To get the process started, complete an Application to Replace License Plate or Expiration Year Decal (Form 452). Mail the completed form to the address on the form.
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. Speciality, organizational, and personalized plates may have additional fees.
- License plate (registration) fee (paid every 2 years):
- Passenger vehicle: $40.
- Electric vehicles: $120 (in addition to registration fees).
- Hybrid vehicles: $60 (in addition to registration fees).
- Motorcycle: $10.
- RV: $40.
- Temporary tag: $5.
- Transfer fee: $10.
- Duplicate License Plate: $6.