How to Transfer a Car Title in South Dakota

In South Dakota, a car title shows who owns a vehicle. This is a crucial document, and if there is a change in ownership, whether due to buying, selling, gifting or inheriting, the title needs to be updated to show the current owner’s name and to remove the previous owner from the records. This is called a title transfer. There are several specific steps that must be completed to transfer a car title in South Dakota.

Information for buyers

For buyers working with a private seller, it is important to complete the steps below:

  • Make sure that the seller completes the fields on the back of the title, including the odometer disclosure if the vehicle is less than 10 years old.

  • Make sure to complete the bill of sale with the seller. The bill of sale needs to include some specific information, including the date of the sale, the cost of the car, the make, model and year, and it must have both your signature and that of the seller.

  • Get a lien release from the seller.

  • Complete the Application for Motor Vehicle Title and Registration.

  • Bring all this information, along with money to pay the title transfer fee, taxes, and the cost of registration to the county treasurer’s office. The transfer fee is $5, and the tax will be 4% of the cost of the car. Registration will cost $75.60 for cars under 10 years old, or $50.40 if the car is older than that.

Common mistakes

  • Not getting a lien release
  • Not bringing money for the registration costs

Information for sellers

For private sellers in the state of South Dakota, the process also requires specific steps to be completed. They are:

  • Apply for a seller’s permit at the county treasurer’s office or on the DOR’s website. You cannot sell your car without a permit.

  • Complete the fields on the back of the title for the buyer.

  • Complete a bill of sale with the buyer, and make sure both you sign it.

  • Get a lien release.

  • If the car is less than 10 years old, complete the odometer disclosure section on the Application for Motor Vehicle Title and Registration.

  • Complete the Seller’s Report of Sale from and file it with the county treasurer. You have 15 days to do this.

Common mistakes

  • Not getting a lien release
  • Not getting a seller’s permit
  • Not notifying the state of the sale

Gifting and inheriting a car in South Dakota

The gifting process in South Dakota is the same as outlined above. However, if the title is being transferred to a family member, they will not have to pay tax on the gift. Inheriting a car is a different story, and the process followed depends on whether the will was probated or not.

If the will was probated, you’ll need the title, as well as a copy of the appointment papers and the driver’s license and the Social Security number for anyone who will be on the title now. You’ll need to complete the South Dakota Exemptions form, as well as paying the transfer fee.

If the will was not probated, you’ll need an Affidavit of Vehicle Ownership by Succession, as well as the information for each heir (DL and SS numbers). You will also need the title and a completed Application for Motor Vehicle Title and Registration. The transfer fees apply.

For more information about how to transfer a car title in South Dakota, visit the state’s DOR website.


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