How to Sell a Car Privately in South Carolina

by Scott Krohn

Private party vehicle sales in South Carolina require the certificate of title to transfer ownership from the seller to the buyer. Additional documentation may be required if the title is not filled out completely, or if a loan on a vehicle has recently been paid in full. The state allows for paperwork to be submitted online, in-person or by mail.

Transferring Title

After the sale has been finalized, the Assignment of Title section on the back of the title must be completed. In this section, the seller releases ownership to the buyer with a signature, and provides the odometer reading. Buyers complete the requirements for this section with their address and a signature to assume ownership. A bill of sale signed by the seller and the buyer is required to register vehicles with original titles that pre-date June 19, 1989. A notarized bill of sale is required when the title does not include the price and date of the transaction. The bill of sale must be an original provided by the South Carolina DMV.

Releasing a Lien

All liens must be satisfied before a vehicle can be sold. When a vehicle is financed, the bank or credit union will be listed as a lienholder and retain the title either as a paper document or an electronic entry. When a lien has been satisfied on a paper title, the lienholder can release ownership either by signing off on the front of the title or with a letter on company letterhead. The signatory must be an approved official of the lender. The documents then are mailed to the owner. To release a lien on a digital title after the loan has been paid in full, the lienholder sends an electronic message to the DMV, which then mails the title to the owner.

Online Service

South Carolina offers an EZ Title and Registration Online Service which allows private parties in a vehicle sale to initiate the process of transferring the title using a portal on the DMV website. The EZ Title page offers a series of prompts to gather information on the transaction, and then directs users to a digital Application for Certificate of Title and Registration for Motor Vehicle or Manufactured Home/Mobile Home form, as well as an information sheet. These forms provide information on the documentation that must be submitted to the DMV to complete the transaction.

Submitting Paperwork

Paperwork to remove a lienholder from the vehicle title, as well as to transfer and record ownership of a vehicle, can be submitted either by mail or in person at a DMV office. South Carolina requires applicants to submit a valid identification for title transfers and to register vehicles. Forms of identification that are accepted by the state include valid South Carolina credentials, passports, and Employment Authorization Documents.

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