How to Transfer a Car Title in South Carolina?

When selling or buying a used car in South Carolina, transferring the title is one of the most important steps.
Transferring a South Carolina vehicle title needs to be done correctly, and this becomes especially important in private sales.

This title transfer guide tells you everything you need to know to get your new-to-you vehicle titled in your name with the state of South Carolina.

The South Carolina Title Transfer Process

An auto title transfer makes the buyer the new owner of the vehicle. A title transfer is divided into two stages:

1. The seller and buyer meet in person. The buyer pays the seller for the car. Both fill out the physical title certificate and sign it. The buyer is now the legal owner of the purchased car.
2. The buyer registers the newly bought vehicle with the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and the DMV updates its records to establish the buyer as the titled owner.

The first step (the seller signing over the title) is the critical transfer of ownership. The second step is a necessary formality so that the state recognizes you as the new owner of the vehicle.

As the car seller, you transfer ownership of the car by signing the title over to the buyer. You’ll take off your license plate and be done with the car.
As the buyer, you become the legal owner as soon as the seller transfers the title to your name. You will finalize with the South Carolina DMV to get the title and vehicle registration in your name. You’ll also get your own license plates and car insurance.
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Signing the Physical Title

It’s time to do the actual ownership transfer. This is where the seller signs the title over to the buyer. It’s probably the single most vital step in the entire transaction (along with the buyer paying for the car). There are some key details you need to pay attention to when signing a South Carolina vehicle title.

Front of the South Carolina Title

Lucky for you, the front of a South Carolina title is only for vehicles that have a lien holder, so you don't look at this side of the paper.
Front of the South Carolina Title.png

Back of the South Carolina Title

The back of a South Carolina title has a section for sellers (red) and buyers (teal).

Here is the step-by-step process for filling out the back of a South Carolina vehicle title.
Back of the South Carolina Title.png
1. In the teal-colored section numbered “1,” the buyer fills out the day, month, and year the vehicle was transferred, followed by their name, street, city, state, and zip code.
2. The seller enters the exact odometer reading in the red section marked “2”.
3. In the red rectangle marked “3,” the buyer signs and prints their name, and enters the name and address of the lienholder to appear on the new title (if applicable).
4. The seller signs and prints their name and enters their address in the red rectangle marked “4”.
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Finalize Ownership Transfer with the South Carolina DMV

You’ve done the deal and are the owner of a new-to-you vehicle. Your work is not done yet. There are still steps you need to take to finalize your vehicle's title transfer with the State of South Carolina.

You will also need to get a new license plate, register the car in your name, and pay applicable sales tax on your purchase.

Here’s what you’ll need to provide when you do your titling and registration at the DMV office:

The Certificate of Title, signed over to you by the previous vehicle owner.
A completed Application for Certificate of Title and Registration for Motor Vehicle (Form 400).
Completed bill of sale.
Odometer disclosure statement.
Proof of lien release (if applicable).
Payment for South Carolina’s vehicle title transfer fee: $15.
Payment for South Carolina registration fee: from $40 to $90.
Payment for South Carolina’s IMF: 5% of the vehicle purchase price.
Proof of identification.
Proof of insurance.
Proof of VIN inspection.

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

South Carolina Title Transfer FAQ

Does South Carolina require a notary for title transfer?

The state of South Carolina does not require a notary when transferring the title.

How to transfer a car title to a family member in SC?

How to register a car in SC without a title?

Does South Carolina charge vehicle sales tax on used car purchases?

Can I transfer a car title to my name in South Carolina if the owner is deceased?