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Boating - Title and Register a Watercraft or Outboard Motor in SC
Check boat history before you buy
In the state of South Carolina, the law requires all motorized boats and watercraft, except exempted vessels, sailboats, and all outboard motors five horsepower and greater to be titled. By law we must have your completed application and other required documents, which vary by purchase or selling situation, to title and register your boat and/or motor. When purchasing a watercraft or outboard motor, make sure it is titled/registered to the person you are buying it from.
Casual Excise/Use Tax Change:
If you purchase an outboard motor as a single unit, the casual excise tax is calculated at 5% with a $500.00 cap.
The casual excise tax rate has not changed for a watercraft or watercraft/outboard motor purchased as a unit. The casual excise tax rate for a watercraft or watercraft and outboard motor purchased as a unit is 5% with a $500.00 cap.
If you are selling a boat and/or motor in South Carolina:
You must be the titled owner. If you are not the titled owner of the boat or outboard motor you are selling, you must complete the application process with SCDNR prior to the sale.
If you have purchased a boat or motor that has ever been titled and/or registered in South Carolina:
- Pay your property taxes in your name with your county
- Submit a paid property tax receipt in your name or notice from the county that no taxes are due with your application and other supporting documents.
If you have purchased a boat or motor out-of-state or from a SCDNR permitted marine dealer:
Property taxes will be billed by your county after being titled and/or registered with SCDNR.
Once purchased, your boat and/or motor may be used 60 days from the date of purchase, even with expired or out-of-state decals using your temporary certificate number and copies of your title or bill of sale.
If you have questions about boat titling and registration, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions. If you have any questions about your property taxes, please contact your county tax office.
Most Common Titling and Registration Situations:
- Purchased From an SC Owner with SC Titles
- Purchased From an SC Owner with Missing Titles
- Purchased Out of State From a Titling State
- Purchased Out of State From a Nontitling State
- Purchased Used Out of State from a Dealer
Other Titling and Registration Situations
If you are trying to register a watercraft or outboard motor in SC and your situation is a little more unique than the four main methods listed above, then please select one of the following options:
- Boats purchased from an Estate or by Inheritance
- Homemade Boats & Motors
- Repossessed Boat/Motor
- Magistrate's Sale, Lien for Storage, Mechanics Lien
- Found, Abandoned or Unable to Complete the Chain of Paperwork
- Documented Vessels
- A Boat that has never been used with a motor
Got a question? Contact the SCDNR Boating Section at 1-803-734-4DNR(367).