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South Carolina License Plate Lookup


South Carolina License Plate Lookup

Have you newly settled down in SC or have you bought a new car? It is not legal to drive on the roads and highways of the state without public authorization. This means that you have to apply for South Carolina license plates as soon as possible. Use lookup mechanisms to check the availability of preferred distinctive numbers or validate the history of pre-owned vehicles before performing the actual payment.

Advantages of South Carolina License Plate Lookup

SC License Plate lookup informs drivers about the actual condition of the automobile and provides ownership details. This service is extremely useful for revealing the history of the car and determining if it is worth your money or not. So, when purchasing a pre-owned automobile, the lookup is a must, as it will keep you from buying stolen or lien property cars.

You may run the lookup online, just fill out placard numbers in the gap, choose the state, and only several minutes after submitting this data get the record. Pay attention to the means from where the online databases get their information. The information resources have to be trustworthy and include public databases, insurance companies, consumer rights agencies, and so on.

Another available method of lookup is through requesting accountable public institutions. Submit the special application form and necessary paperwork to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and get the record.

Finally, you can apply for the support of Private Investigators. Their service is expensive, however, the results will probably satisfy you.

What data does the record provide?

No matter which searching method you choose, you’ll get the following information:

  • Current title and certification details
  • Recent inspections
  • Engagement in accidents
  • List of defects recalled by the manufacturer
  • Salvage record, damages caused by flood or fire, history of repairs
  • Warning on odometer misreading
  • Involvement in loans and repossession agreements

NOTE: The state follows privacy laws derived from Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). So, you will not obtain data on the personal details of the car owners. Moreover, while requesting a record, you have to provide a legitimate reason for your request.

Registration Procedure

After moving to SC or purchasing an automobile you have only 45 days to organize the registration. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is a public institution that is responsible for all license-plate-related problems. It issues only one plate for all types of vehicles. It comes with a sticker that has an expiration date on it. Several years ago, there were two stickers accessible. One was for the year, and then another one for the month. To save resources and make the placard easily identifiable for law enforcement officers, authorities have started to issue one sticker.

The main design of the placard has also been changed. Now it features white and indigo colors and a local palmetto tree. You are also to find the common slogans such as “Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places” or “While I Breathe, I Hope”.

Before applying for actual registration, pay the county’s vehicle property tax and save the original receipt of payment. You will probably need it during authorization. Pay the one-time Infrastructure maintenance fee of $250. It is for the new residents that are certifying their automobiles for the first time.
After having these two receipts you are ready to title and register your automobile. You can manage these two procedures simultaneously.

The SCDMV allows you to manage these procedures in person or by mail.


Visit the nearest SCDMV office and bring the following paperwork with you:

By mail

To complete this procedure by mail, send the above-mentioned paperwork to the following address:


946 Orleans Rd,

Charleston, SC 29407

For more information, get in touch with the Customer Call Center at (803) 896-5000.

The authorization certificate has a validity of two years.

You don’t need to register your truck if you are not a resident of South Carolina. So, you don’t need authorization if your truck is authorized in another state, you will stay here for less than 150 days, or you don’t have permanent shelter here.


The state has standard fees for the above-mentioned procedure. You have to pay $40 for passenger cars. Vehicle owners up to 64 years old have to pay $38, others who are 65 years and older or if they have some kind of disability pay $36. For motorcycles, the cost is $10.

If you don’t manage to register your automobile within 45 days, the state operates late fees. You will be charged the following fines; being late from 46 to 60 days – $10, 61 to 75 days – $25, 76 to 135 – $50, and $75 for more than 135 days.

Available Types of South Carolina License Plates

SCDMV offers a hundred types of tags. We specify 4 main groups of them:

  • Specialty
  • Personalized
  • Disability
  • Temporary


This category is designed to fit organizational interests and special causes of its residents and to support fundraising. Residents have to submit documents to prove their eligibility for a specific subcategory. You may find such subcategories as:

  • Sports
  • Collegiate
  • Charitable
  • Military
  • Occupational
  • Classic Auto

The fee for each type varies.


The DMV allows you to customize your plates. However, there are several requirements that you have to follow.

  • Choose up to 7 characters, both digits, and letters.
  • For motorcycles, choose up to 6 characters.
  • Make sure that your combination is unique and hasn’t been used before by any public institution or an individual.
  • Don’t use vulgar or offensive writing.
  • Use of symbols is not allowed while customization.

You are allowed to submit three choices of preferred writings and obtain the first available option. Generally, the tags are ready within 2-6 weeks. In case it takes longer, call the local licensing office.

In addition to standard fees, you have to manage extra costs for customization.


There are disability plates available for people with permanent or temporary disabilities and for the organizations that transfer people with disabilities. To apply for this category, you have to submit an application and proof of eligibility given by the certified physician.

By obtaining this placard, you are getting a right to park in special parking zones.

Temporary Permits

There could be situations when you need temporary certification for legally driving on the roads of South Carolina. Temporary permits have validation of 45 days. To apply for this permit, you have to personally visit the nearest licensing agency, complete a special application form for 45-day Temporary Tags (Form 45-A) and manage the fee of $5.

While driving with this permit, maybe you will need to verify the date-of-purchase, when stopped by the police. So, always have a Sales agreement or title with you. Make sure to provide a rental contract if you are driving for rent.

Renewal Procedure

After the expiry of 2-year registration, some SC counties allow you to proceed with its renewal online. Just check if your county is on the list that offers online services. If it is out of the list, you may manage the renewal by mail. You have to submit your distinctive numbers, insurance details and pay the required charges.

You have a right to renew your authorization by visiting a local DMV agency. Have the following documents with you:

  • Valid Driver’s permit
  • Data of insurance
  • Certificate of the registration
  • Proof of payment


You have to replace your tags if you have lost them or if they are damaged or stolen. If you want to replace the same license plate, you may submit an online application. You have to provide a certificate of registration and manage the charges through a valid Visa or Mastercard. The replacement cost is $6.
If you find your placards stolen, you have to show up at the nearest police station as soon as possible.

There you have to file a crime report. It is for your protection. Only after filing a report, can you go to the DMV office. Deliver your reason for replacement and get a certain amount of the payment.

Transferring and Surrendering

SC attaches the tags to the name of the owner and not to the car. This means that when buying a new automobile, you can transfer your old tags to it. Provide all the required documents and the completed application form for transferring and do transfer for a nominal cost.

You have to surrender your placards to the SCDMV office if you are moving to a new state. Or if you haven’t transferred your tags or you have stopped the insurance. To finalize the process of surrendering, mail the placards to a local licensing agency or bring them to the DMV.