South Carolina Title Transfer

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In South Carolina, you have 45 days to complete a car title transfer after a sale or a move. This applies to vehicle owners who just moved to the state and to current residents who have just purchased a vehicle. 
Title transfers are a vital part of vehicle ownership, and most drivers will encounter them at some point in time. However, the process can be a bit confusing, and it varies from state to state. 
That’s why the car insurance comparison app Jerry has rounded up all of the information you need about title transfers in South Carolina. 

What is a title transfer? 

A car title establishes proof of ownership. Whenever a vehicle is sold or gifted, it's important to transfer the title to the new owner to prove that the vehicle is legally theirs. 
Title transfers typically have two steps; one for the seller and one for the buyer:
  1. The seller needs to sign the title to release ownership of the vehicle
  2. The buyer must take the signed title to the DMV to receive a new title and complete their registration 
The documentation needed for a title transfer varies by state. However, most states will ask for the following:
  • Signed Title Transfer Application Form
  • Proof of car insurance
  • Proof of identification 
  • Certificate of title 
  • Bill of sale 

Who transfers the title? 

The responsibility for the title transfer depends on how you buy or sell your car. The dealer will complete the title transfer if you purchase directly from the dealership. However, if you’re a new state resident or buy a vehicle from a private seller, you’ll need to transfer the title yourself. 
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Reasons for title transfers 

There are many reasons why you may need to transfer a title. However, the most common reasons include a change of residency and buying/selling a car
A few other reasons for title transfers may include:
  • Donating a car
  • Inheriting a car
  • Gifting a car
  • Paying off a car loan 

Title transfer in South Carolina

The title transfer process in South Carolina varies depending on your circumstances. While certain documentation is necessary for every title transfer, there are several key differences for vehicles that are new to the state, from a dealership, leased, and privately purchased

New-to-state title transfers

Vehicle owners who move to South Carolina have 45 days to complete their title transfer and register their car at the DMV. Here is everything you’ll need:
  • Application for Certificate of Title and Registration for Motor Vehicle or Manufactured Home/Mobile Home (Form 400)
  • Out-of-state title and registration certificates
  • Form of identification (driver’s license, passport, etc.)
  • Paid vehicle property tax proof 
  • South Carolina car insurance 
  • $15 title transfer fee
  • $250 Infrastructure Maintenance Fee 

Dealership title transfers 

South Carolina auto dealers are required to complete the title transfer process for you when you purchase a non-leased vehicle from them. They will also collect titling fees and sales tax.

Leased title transfers 

If you’ve decided to lease your car, you’ll need to submit the following to the DMV:
  • Application for Certificate of Title and Registration for Motor Vehicle or Manufactured Home/Mobile Home (Form 400)
    • Make sure Section E is filled out by your leasing company 
    • Include an odometer reading 
  • Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO) or the assigned title
  • South Carolina car insurance 
  • Power of attorney (if need be)
  • Vehicle property tax receipt
  • $15 title transfer fee

Private seller title transfers

If you’ve purchased a vehicle from a private seller, you’ll need the following to complete a title transfer:
  • Application for Certificate of Title and Registration for Motor Vehicle or Manufactured Home/Mobile Home (Form 400)
  • Current, signed certificate of title
  • Bill of sale (only if the original title’s issue date was before June 19, 1989)
  • Form of identification (driver’s license, passport, etc.)
  • Lien information (if need be)
  • Power of attorney (if need be)
  • Vehicle property tax receipt
  • $15 title transfer fee
You can submit these documents by mail or in person at an SCDMV location.

Registering a car in South Carolina 

Once you transfer the title, you’ll need to complete your vehicle registration. This proves your car is safe to drive and you’ve been cleared by the DMV. 
The base registration fee for a vehicle in South Carolina is $40. However, there is an additional 5% tax on the vehicle’s sales price (with a $500 maximum) that is applied as a one-time fee the first time you register your car. 
There is an additional $250 fee if the vehicle was registered in another state before it was registered in South Carolina. 

Finding the right car insurance 

Once you’ve completed your title transfer, it might be time to reevaluate your car insurance—and Jerry can help! 
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Yes. South Carolina residents over 65 can pay $36 instead of $40 for vehicle registration.
In South Carolina, the buyer is responsible for completing the title transfer. However, the seller will need to submit a Notice of Vehicle Sold (Form 416) to the DMV.

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