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South Carolina License Plate Search

Registering or renewing license plates in South Carolina is done through the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Vehicle owners can apply for standard plates, specialty plates, or disability plates. Most plates have the option to be personalized for an additional fee.

It is possible to look up available plate numbers online before applying.

Sample South Carolina License Plate

Sample South Carolina License Plate

Types of License Plates in South Carolina

All vehicles owned by South Carolina residents are required to have license plates on their vehicles.

There are a few different types of license plates issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in South Carolina. License plates available for vehicles include:

  • Standard License Plates: White and blue background plate with dark blue lettering (available to all who register their vehicle).
  • Specialty License Plates: Vary by type and have a unique design based on the organization, occupation, or cause associated with it.
  • Disability License Plates: Issued only for those with a disability; these plates have eligibility criteria.
  • Temporary License Plates: For those who purchase a new vehicle to drive legally during the registration process.

Prices vary by plate type and may include additional requirements to register.

Specialty License Plates in South Carolina

The following specialty license plates are available for South Carolina residents from the DMV:

  • Collegiate License Plates. For those who want to support their local colleges, universities, sororities, or fraternities; for example:
    • University of South Carolina Plates
    • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Plates
  • Sports License Plates. For those who want to show their allegiance and support to local and national sports teams or players; for example:
    • Carolina Panthers Plates
    • NASCAR Plates
  • Charitable / Non-Profit Plates. For those who wish to support and make a contribution to a charitable organization; for example:
    • Donate Life
    • Support Our Troops
  • Military License Plates. For military personnel to recognize their honorary awards, experiences, and services; for example:
    • U.S. Army Plates
    • Ex-POW Plates
  • Occupational License Plates. For those who work for a particular occupation; for example:
    • EMT Plates
    • Firefighter Plates
  • Classic Car License Plates. For those with vintage, antique, or classic cars; for example:
    • Streets Rods
    • Antique Roadsters

Specialty license plates may require additional documentation for proof of enrollment or association. For example, military license plates require proof of being enlisted or valid discharge papers. Those seeking specific honorary plates must have valid certification of the applicable military awards.

The fees required for specialty plates vary by type. Some charitable and organizational fees receive a portion of the plate fee to support their causes or initiatives.

South Carolina Personalized License Plates

Personalized license plates enable you to customize your vehicle's plate number. The DMV of North Carolina requires that you follow these guidelines:

  • Plate number must have up to 7 characters
  • Characters can be a combination of letters and numbers
  • Vulgar language or indecent suggestions are not permitted
  • Plate numbers cannot resemble others already registered to another vehicle

Applications will be reviewed by DMV staff to ensure they follow these guidelines.

To look up available license plates in North Carolina, use the search bar above.

Disability License Plates in North Carolina

People with disabilities may be qualified to obtain disability license plates from the DMV.

Disability license plates and placards are available for: 

  • People with permanent disabilities
  • People with temporary disabilities
  • Veterans with a disability
  • Community vehicles that provide transportation to people with disabilities

Disability plates and placards permit people with disabilities to park in designated parking spaces throughout the state.

How to Apply for License Plates in North Carolina

Applications for license plates can be done in person at a DMV office throughout North Carolina. To register a vehicle, the following may be required:

  • Proof that vehicle is insured
  • Vehicle titling documents
  • Valid ID (i.e., North Carolina Driver’s License)
  • Completed registration forms
  • Applicable documents for specialty, disability, or personalized plates
  • Emissions certification
  • Payment for registration fees

All vehicles owned by North Carolina residents must be registered to drive legally throughout the state.

New residents are required to register their out-of-state vehicle(s) within 45 days.

Residents who are purchasing a new or used vehicle are required to register it within 45 days.

It is possible to register vehicles either by mail or in person.

Renewing License Plates in North Carolina

Registered vehicles will be issued registration stickers, which must be placed on the rear license plate. Before the expiration date on the plate, vehicle owners can apply for renewal either:

  • In person
  • By mail
  • Online

New registration stickers will be issued, which must be placed over the old ones.

Transferring License Plates in North Carolina

When a new vehicle is purchased, owners can transfer their old license plates for a nominal fee.

It is typically not possible to transfer license plates to the person purchasing a used vehicle.

Surrendering License Plates in North Carolina

The following situations require vehicle owners to surrender their license plates in North Carolina:

  • Cancelled vehicle insurance
  • Not transferring plates
  • Moving to a new state

Plates can be surrendered by mailing or dropping off plates at a local DMV office.

Summary of Fees for North Carolina License Plates

When registering your vehicle with the North Carolina DMV, you will be required to pay taxes and service fees in addition to any of the following registration fees:

  • 2-year Registration Fee:
    • Motorcycle: $10
    • Passenger Vehicle: $40
  • Temporary Plates: $5
  • Specialty Plates:
    • E.g., Antique Plates: $10
  • Personalization: $30

Please contact a local DMV office for more information about fees and taxes for specific car types.

Looking Up License Plates in North Carolina

It is possible to look up license plates in North Carolina to obtain information about:

  • Plate number availability
  • Submitted vehicle history & reports
  • Vehicle images, videos, etc.

Use the search bar above to begin looking up license plates in North Carolina or any state across the U.S.