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How Much Does a South Carolina License Plate Cost?

If you buy a used car from a private seller in South Carolina, you’ll need to get a new license plate when you go to register the vehicle. A South Carolina passenger vehicle plate is included in the $40 registration fee.
South Carolina also has a variety of specialty and personalized plates to choose from, which cost more. Additional taxes and fees apply to both new and renewal registrations.

Let’s get into the details of license plate costs in the great state of South Carolina.

The Cost of License Plates in South Carolina

A South Carolina license plate costs up to $140, depending on which type of plate you choose.

Let's look at the different South Carolina license plate offerings and their costs:

  • Standard passenger plates
  • Personalized plates
  • Specialty plates
  • Military plates
  • Disability plates

The fees vary based on plate type. Additional registration fees apply on top of the base plate costs.

How Much is a Standard License Plate in South Carolina?

Your $40 South Carolina registration fee includes the cost of a standard license plate.

You'll receive the classic blue and white South Carolina plate when:

  • Registering a vehicle for the first time
  • Replacing damaged, lost, or stolen plates
  • Trading specialty plates for a standard plate

So the standard plate fee is included in the registration cost rather than an added charge. These plates are issued for new registrations and replacements.

The standard South Carolina plate provides a simple, classic look. The blue and white design displays the county name and random serial number.

How Much is a Personalized Plate in South Carolina?

Want to make a statement? A South Carolina personalized plate will cost you $30 over registration costs. Personalized plates, also referred to as vanity plates, let you customize your ride with a unique letter and number combo in South Carolina.

When selecting the lettering for your custom South Carolina plate, there are some restrictions:

  • You are limited to 7 total characters.
  • No special characters or punctuation can be used.
  • Offensive or inappropriate words and phrases are prohibited.

How Much is the South Carolina Specialty Plate?

Show some team spirit or support a cause with a specialty plate available in South Carolina. Choices include colleges and various organizations.

The cost of a South Carolina specialty license plate varies from $30 to $100 in addition to the registration fee.

Here are some of the available designs:

1. In God We Trust
2. Anderson University
3. Clemson University 2018
4. Clemson University 2016
5. First in Golf
6. Heritage Classic
7. Homeownership
8. Sagarmal College of Chiropractic
9. South Carolina State University
10. University of South Carolina
11. USC Association of Lettermen

For more information about specialty license plates, visit South Carolina's official website.
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How Much is the South Carolina Military License Plate?

South Carolina offers several military license plates to honor service.

Some key options include:

  • 250th Year Anniversary Revolutionary War
  • Air Force
  • Air Force Distinguished Service Cross
  • Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
  • Air Medal
  • Air National Guard
  • Army
  • Distinguished Service Cross - Army
  • Army Distinguished Service Medal Plate
  • Army National Guard
  • Bronze Star
  • Bronze Star with Valor
  • Coast Guard
  • Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal
  • Combat Related Disabled Veteran
  • Disabled Female Veteran
  • Disabled Veteran
  • Distinguished Flying Cross
  • Female Veteran
  • Gold Star Family
  • Korean Veteran
  • Legion of Merit
  • Marine Corps
  • Marine Corps Distinguished Service Medal
  • Medal of Honor Air Force
  • Medal of Honor Army
  • Medal of Honor Navy
  • Medal of Valor
  • Meritorious Service Medal
  • Navy
  • Navy Distinguished Service Cross
  • Navy Distinguished Service Medal
  • Normandy Invasion Survivor
  • Operation Desert Shield - Desert Storm
  • Operating Enduring Freedom
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • Palmetto Cross
  • Pearl Harbor
  • Prisoner of War
  • Purple Heart
  • Retired National Guard
  • Silver Star
  • Space Force
  • Soldier's Medal
  • State Guard
  • Support Our Troops
  • US Air Force Reserve
  • US Armed Forces Retired
  • US Army Reserve
  • US Coast Guard Reserve
  • US Marine Corps Reserve
  • US Navy Chief Petty Officer
  • US Navy Reserve
  • Veteran
  • Vietnam Veteran
  • World War II

To apply for a military license plate, you need to mail the following:

  • Completed application for military plates (Form MV-37).
  • Official military documentation.
  • Payment for the registration fee (if applicable).

Mail the documentation listed above, along with payment (if applicable) to the following address:

PO Box 1498
Blythewood, SC 29016-0038

How Much is a South Carolina Handicap License Plate and Placards?

South Carolina offers a disability license plate and placard to accommodate individuals with disabilities. This plate and placard provide designated parking access and other privileges to better serve disabled residents.

To apply for a license plate, bring all of the following to your local SCDMV branch:

1. Complete all sections of the application for placard and/or license plate for people who have a disability (Form RG-007A).
2. Payment for the registration fee.

To apply for a parking placard, bring all of the following to your local SCDMV branch:

1. Completed application placard and/or license plate.
2. Payment of $1.
3. Payment for the registration fee.

How Much is a Commercial Plate in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, a commercial vehicle plate costs anywhere from $40 to $840 depending on the vehicle weight and type. The lowest fees start around $40 for light commercial pickups and trailers. Heavy semi trucks can cost up to $840 annually.

How Much is a Motorcycle Plate in South Carolina?

The standard motorcycle license plate costs $10 annually. This covers the basic plate needed to legally operate a motorcycle.

How Much is a Trailer Plate in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, a trailer plate ranges from $10 to $40 depending on the weight:

How Much is a Motor Home Plate in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, a motor home (RV) license plate costs a standard fee of $40 annually. This basic $40 RV plate can be used for both personal and rental RVs.

What do I do With an Old License Plate in South Carolina?

When you sell your used car in South Carolina, you must dispose of your old plate properly.

Here are the options for the old South Carolina plate:

1. Return: the DMV office will take back the old plate when issuing a new one. This is the safest option.
2. Recycle: remove any stickers and recycle the plate through local recycling.
3. Keep: some choose to save the old plate as memorabilia. Be sure to invalidate any active stickers first.
4. Transfer: South Carolina allows you to put your old plate on another vehicle you own. Make sure to check with your DMV office for the proper paperwork for a plate transfer.

It’s always a good idea to deface your old license plate before returning or recycling it. This prevents someone else from illegally using it. Always remove registration stickers before disposing of your plate.

See our state-by-state guide to license plates to learn which states require removal from the vehicle and which states allow the plates to remain with the vehicle when it’s sold.

How do I Apply for a South Carolina License Plate?

Here are the main steps for getting a new license plate in South Carolina:

1. Gather required documents like vehicle title, insurance, and ID.
2. Visit your local auditor's office.
3. Submit the vehicle registration application.
4. Pay applicable registration fees, plate fees, and taxes.
5. Get your new plate and registration from the DMV when approved.
6. Attach your new South Carolina plate to the rear of your vehicle. South Carolina only requires a rear license plate.

License Plate Trivia

Here are some interesting facts about South Carolina license plates:

  • South Carolina requires only a rear plate, unlike some states that also require a front plate in addition to the rear.
  • Passenger license plates measure 6 by 12 inches and are rectangular—in South Carolina and across the US.
  • A motorcycle license plate is a bit smaller, measuring 4 by 7 inches.
  • The South Carolina license plate has up to six characters. (Across the US, license plate formats range from 6 to 8 characters.)

How Much Does a Title Transfer Cost?

The standard title transfer fee in South Carolina is $15.

To transfer a vehicle title to your name, you will need the following:

  • The current vehicle title certificate, signed over to you by the previous vehicle owner
  • A completed application for certificate of title and registration for motor vehicle (Form 400)
  • Lien information (if applicable)
  • Receipt for paid South Carolina vehicle sales tax
  • Payment for the vehicle title fee
  • Valid ID or driver's license

Read our complete guide to a South Carolina title transfer for more info on the subject.

How Much Does Regular Motor Vehicle Registration Cost?

The registration fee for passenger vehicles is based on vehicle weight. Registration fees range from $40 to $90, plus the infrastructure maintenance fee (IMF), which is sort of a sales tax equivalent.

In South Carolina, you register your vehicle with the county auditor's office rather than the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. The auditor's office is in charge of collecting vehicle property taxes and issuing vehicle registration certificates.

To register your vehicle at the auditor's office, bring the following documents:

  • Proof of ownership
  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof of residency
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Payment for motor vehicle registration fees
  • Payment for South Carolina’s IMF: 5% of the vehicle purchase price

Buy Your Dream Car With PrivateAuto

You’ll love how smooth and secure the car buying process is when you use the PrivateAuto mobile app.

1. Browse used cars for sale by owner. Filter by location, vehicle type, or other criteria.
2. Make offers on vehicles you like (PrivateAuto lets you offer less than the asking price).
3. Message the seller with any questions without revealing your contact info.
4. Schedule the test drive while keeping your personal details private.
5. Electronically sign the bill of sale along with the seller.
6. Instantly send payment and take ownership of the car.
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Our innovative platform connects buyers and sellers and gives them all the tools to complete the deal, from in-app vehicle financing to secure messaging to integrated payments. You can also schedule a test drive and negotiate the price without ever disclosing your personal information.

Sell Your Car in South Carolina

Here’s how you can sell your car in South Carolina with a few simple steps:

1. Gather the required paperwork for selling a car in South Carolina
2. Register on PrivateAuto and get verified
3. List your car
4. Set your terms
5. Vet incoming offers
6. Choose a buyer
7. Schedule a meeting
8. E-sign documents
9. Get paid, instantly
10. Transfer title

List your car for sale today!

License Plates FAQ

How much are temporary plates in South Carolina?

Temporary plates can be purchased for $5 at the auditor's office. They are valid for 30 days and can only be renewed once for an additional 30 days.

The purpose is to allow temporary operation during the registration and titling process for newly acquired vehicles. Temporary plates must be displayed in the rear window rather than the rear bumper.

How much is registration renewal in South Carolina?

How much does a driver's license cost in South Carolina?

What is the infrastructure maintenance fee?

How much are property taxes in South Carolina?

How to calculate South Carolina sales taxes?

What is the safest way to transfer money when buying a vehicle privately?