How to Transfer a Car Title in South Carolina

In the state of South Carolina, a car title denotes ownership of a specific vehicle. When that ownership changes, because a vehicle is bought, sold, given as a gift or inherited, the title must be transferred to the new owner’s name. The state provides 45 days from the point of change to do this, but there are a few other things you’ll need to know about how to transfer a car title in South Carolina.

Buying from a private seller

If you’re buying from a private seller, the burden of transferring the title falls on your shoulders (dealerships will do it all on your behalf). You will need to:

  • Make sure the seller signs the title to you.

  • Make sure that the seller provides you with a bill of sale if the original title dates before 1989.

  • Complete an Application for Certificate of Title and Registration for Motor Vehicle or Manufactured Home/Mobile Home.

  • Get a lien release from the seller.

  • Make sure you have proof of identification (your driver’s license will work).

  • Get a receipt showing that you paid the tax on the car.

  • Take all of this information to the DMV, along with $15 for the title transfer. If you haven’t paid the tax on the sale, you’ll have to pay it now. It will be 5% of the price you paid for the car.

Common mistakes

  • Not getting a lien release

Selling a car as a private seller

For those selling their own vehicle, rather than trading it in at a dealership, there are further steps that must be completed. These include:

  • Make sure to complete the back of the title accurately and provide it to the buyer.

  • If the title dates prior to 1989, you’ll need to complete a bill of sale for the buyer.

  • Make sure to let the DMV know that you’ve sold the vehicle by completing a Notice of Vehicle Sold and submitting it.

  • Give the buyer a lien release if applicable.

Common mistakes

  • Not notifying the DMV of the sale

Gifting and inheriting cars in South Carolina

For owners gifting their car to someone else, the process is almost the same as above. However, when filling out the back of the title, make sure to mark this as a “bona fide gift”. Otherwise, the recipient will have to pay sales tax on it.

If the car is being inherited, the process will change depending on how the title is completed. If the inheritor’s name is on the title with “and” between their name and that of the deceased, they can sign the title as is. However, if the word “or” appears instead, the court will have to appoint ownership. In this instance, you will need a probate court order, an Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property Pursuant to Small Estate Proceedings, or an original certificate of appointment, all of which will be issued by the court. You will also need to complete the Application for Certificate of Title/Registration, as well as the signed Affidavit of Inheritance of a Vehicle.

For more information about how to transfer a car title in South Carolina, visit the state’s DMV page.


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