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South Dakota License Plate Search

Residents of South Dakota should register their vehicles with the Department of Motor Vehicles, which has offices available through each county. Options to apply for replacements or specialty plates can be done by mail or online.

When registering a personalized license plate, it is possible to look up available plate numbers online.

Sample South Dakota License Plate

Sample South Dakota License Plate

License Plates in South Dakota

All vehicles owned by South Dakota residents must be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Motor vehicles, such as cars, trucks, and vans, are required to have license plates attached to both the front and rear. Motorcycles and trailers only require plates attached to the rear.

Registered vehicles must have valid decals on their rear license plates at all times.

Applying for License Plates in South Dakota

Vehicle owners can go to their local DMV office in person to apply for license plates in South Dakota.

The following will be required when registering a vehicle:

  • Proof of insurance for vehicle
  • Valid ID (e.g., South Dakota driver’s license)
  • Emissions test certification
  • Vehicle titling documentation
  • Completed application forms
  • Payment for all fees (including registration fees, taxes, services fees, etc.)

Vehicle owners applying for other types of license plates may be required to submit additional documentation and payment for fees.

Types of License Plates in South Dakota

The DMV in South Dakota offers the following types of license plates:

  • Standard License Plates. Issued to anyone registering a vehicle.
  • Specialty License Plates. Requires application, additional fees, and occasionally additional documents to be eligible.
  • Disability License Plates & Placards. Issued to people with a disability. Require valid medical documentation.
  • Temporary License Plates. Issued to enable an unregistered vehicle to be driven legally for 30 days until registration is completed.

Note: Most dealerships provide buyers with temporary plates to permit them to drive legally and complete their vehicle’s registration. Buying from a private dealer requires temporary license plates to be obtained in advance.

Speciality License Plates in South Dakota

South Dakota offers various specialty license plates with unique emblems and designs. The following are examples of specialty plates available:

  •  Military Service License Plates. Recognize the services, awards, and experiences of those who served in the military.
    • Ex-Prisoner of War Plates
    • Purple Heart Honorary Plates
    • Bronze Star Honorary Plates
  • Collegiate License Plates. Supportive plates with emblems of local universities, colleges, sororities, and fraternities.
    • South Dakota State University Plates
    • Augustana College Plates
  • Special Causes License Plates. Provide support to local organizations, charities, and nonprofits.
    • South Dakota Historical Society Plates
    • YMCA Plates
  • Occupational License Plates. Special emblems for people employed at specific occupations.
    • EMT Plates
    • Firefighter Plates
  • Classic Car License Plates. Issued to vehicles 30+ years old.
    • Classic Car Plates
    • Vintage Vehicle Plates

All specialty plates have additional fees, which vary by type. These fees are required in addition to the regular registration fees for a vehicle.

Personalized License Plates in South Dakota

Most license plates issued by the DMC in South Dakota can be personalized with a unique plate number. The following guidelines must be followed in order for an application to be approved:

  • Up to 7 characters (i.e., numbers and letters)
    • Up to 6 characters for motorcycles
  • Does not use profanity, vulgar language, or inappropriate suggestions
  • Available for registration

Availability of license plate numbers can be found online. It is advisable to submit more than one possible plate number in case you first choice is rejected or unavailable.

Transfer & Surrender License Plates in South Dakota

License plates remain with a vehicle owner, regardless of whether they sell their vehicle to someone else.

Other reasons for surrendering license plates include:

  • Moving out of state
  • Canceling vehicle’s insurance
  • Replacing damaged plates

Unused license plates should be surrendered to a DMV office either in person or by mail.

Replacement License Plates in South Dakota

If license plates are lost, stolen, or damaged, they can be replaced by submitting an application to the DMV. A copy of the vehicle's registration card is required, along with payment for replacement fees.

Replacement applications can be done:

  • In person
  • By mail

Renewing License Plates in South Dakota

License plates can be renewed by submitting the appropriate fees and documents:

  • By mail
  • In person
  • Online

Fees vary depending on how renewal documents are submitted. Additional fees for postage may be required.

After renewal, vehicle owners will be provided with new decal stickers to be applied to their rear license plate.

Fees for South Dakota License Plates

Fees for registering vehicles in South Dakota vary by weight and year. The DMV will calculate applicable fees and taxes, which must be paid before license plates are issued.

Some of the fees for South Dakota license plates include:

  • Personalized License Plates
    • Order: $25
    • Renewal: $25
  • Specialized License Plates (e.g., Veterans Military License Plates)
    • Order: $10
    • Renewal: $10
  • License Plate Replacement:
    • Plate + Decals: $10

Contact a local DMV office for a complete list of fees for registering vehicles in South Dakota.

Paying for License Plates in South Dakota

It is possible to pay for a vehicle’s registration or renewal by the following methods:

  • Credit card
  • Check or money order
  • Cash

Checks or money orders should be made out to the DMV in South Dakota and should be used whenever payments are being sent by mail.

Cash should never be sent in the mail for registering, renewing, or replacing license plates.

Looking Up License Plates in South Dakota

It is possible to look up license plates in South Dakota to:

  • Check plate number availability
  • Review a vehicle's history
  • See reports and other submitted media for a vehicle

To look up vehicles in South Dakota or any state in the U.S., use the search bar above.