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Boating - Title and Register a Watercraft or Outboard Motor in SC
Purchased Used Out of State from a Dealer
If you purchased a used watercraft and/or outboard motor from an out of state dealer, additional documentation will be required.
If the dealer is not required to title or register the watercraft and/or outboard motor in their state, they will need documentation connecting the seller of the boat or motor to the dealer. We must have a bill of sale or original titles (if the boat/motor is coming from a titling state) signed from the current owner to the dealer. The dealer should provide those documents to the final buyer as proof of how they obtained the watercraft/outboard motor. Original titles must be signed over to the dealer then reassigned to the buyer.
- Watercraft/Outboard Motor Application (completed and signed)
- Bill of sale or original titles signed over to the dealer
- Bill of sale from the dealer to the buyer
- Pencil tracing (if traceable), or printed photograph of Hull Identification Number (Boat) Serial Number (Motor)
- Registration Card for the Boat (if available)
Note: If you purchased a boat or motor from out of state and it has previously been titled or registered in SC, you must pay property taxes to your county before titling/registering with SCDNR. You can look up any boat or motor under SC Boat Facts to determine whether or not it has been titled or registered in SC.
Effective January 1, 2020 your watercraft registration will be valid for one year from the date you purchased the boat. The fee will be $10.00 per year for an annual registration. In 2021, the $10.00 renewal fee will be included with your county property tax notice. SCDNR will send renewal notices for tax exempt boats.
(completed and signed)
- The bill of sale should contain a description of the watercraft and/or outboard motor. It should be dated, signed by the seller, and contain a purchase price.
- You need to send printed pictures or pencil tracings of the Hull Identification Number for the Boat and the Serial Number for the motor with the other documents.
- Make sure the picture or pencil tracing is legible. If the quality of the picture or pencil tracing is not good and you can visually make out the numbers you may write them in under the picture for clarification.
- The registration card is provided by the titling state. It contains the information about the owner and the watercraft.
- Note: this card is required to be carried on the watercraft during operation.
Make checks payable to SCDNR. Do not mail cash.
- New SC Watercraft Title & Registration ($20) if you have purchased a boat
- New SC Outboard Motor Title ($10) if you have purchased a motor
- If it has been more than 30 days since you bought the boat/motor $15
- If it has been more than 60 days since you bought the boat/motor $30
Casual Excise Tax:
Casual excise tax is charged upon the issuance of a title or proof of ownership for a boat or motor. The casual excise tax for a boat or boat and motor purchased as a package is 5% of purchase price with a maximum fee of $500.00. The casual excise tax for a motor purchased alone is 5% of purchase price with a maximum tax of $500.00.
- Boat and Motor or Boat Only: Purchase Price X .05, the maximum tax is $500
- Motor Only: Purchase Price X .05, the maximum tax is $500.
If you did not pay taxes out-of-state, then you submit 5% tax or maximum tax of $500 with the registration fee. If you paid a portion of the taxes, you are only required to pay the remainder, up to 5% or $500.
Tax Exempt if Purchased from Immediate Family
If you acquire the watercraft or outboard motor from immediate family, you are exempt from the excise tax. Immediate family includes:
You must complete the exempt form on the back of the Watercraft/Outboard Motor Application to be exempt.
Military persons are not exempt from Casual Excise or Use Tax on boats and Outboard Motors.
Casual Excise tax can also be paid to the S.C. Department of Revenue Tax Service Centers.
Note that if you have an outboard motor of less than 5 horsepower, or if it is an inboard motor (an engine that is enclosed within the hull of the boat), then you DO NOT need to title it.
If you purchased a brand new boat or motor from an out of state marine dealer you must include the original Manufacturer's Statement of Origin (MSO). The MSO must be filled out and notarized if required.
Ready to send it all in?
After all of the paperwork is complete, you will need to mail all of the original documents to SCDNR. Please verify all documents are properly signed and make photocopies to keep for your records. Incomplete paperwork will be returned.
Mail documents here:
Attn. Titling & Registration
P.O. Box 167
Columbia, SC 29202
If you have submitted everything correctly, you will receive the following documents from SCDNR:
- SC Titles (will be sent to the lienholder if there is a lien)
- Outboard Motor Decal (if you purchased a motor)
- SC Registration Card and Watercraft Decals