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Boating - Title and Register a Watercraft or Outboard Motor in SC

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.

Most Common Titling and Registration Situations:

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:

  1. Pay your property taxes in your name with your county
  2. 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.

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:

Got a question? Contact the SCDNR Boating Section at 1-803-734-4DNR(367).