South Dakota Vehicle Registration (All You Need to Know)

South Dakota Vehicle Registration

So you just bought a vehicle in South Dakota…

Or maybe you’re transferring your out-of-state vehicle here…

Whatever the case, you’ll have to ensure that you register it. 

Sure, it’s easier when you purchase a brand-new car from a dealer because they’ll do the legwork for you (that’s part of their service). 

But what if you bought it from a private seller? 

We’re here to give you all the steps on how to register your vehicle in South Dakota. We’ll talk about the requirements for brand-new, private, or out-of-state vehicles. 

More than that, we’ll also talk about how to renew a registration, the penalties, as well as car laws in South Dakota

We have a lot to cover, so let’s jump right in!

How to Register A Car in South Dakota

The process varies slightly, depending on whether you’re a new South Dakota resident who already owns a car or an established one who purchased a new vehicle.

Let’s look at both.

For New South Dakota Residents

  1. Your local County Treasurer’s office handles vehicle registrations. However, before paying a visit, gather the following documents:
    1. Your valid driver’s license (doesn’t have to be South Dakota-issued)
    2. A filled-out Motor Vehicle and Boat Title & Registration Application (you can find the form here)
    3. Your vehicle’s title from your previous state
    4. Proof of auto insurance in South Dakota 
    5. A Salvage, Recovered Theft, and Uniform Damage disclosure statement (only for vehicles weighing less than 16,000 pounds and less than 7 years old)
    6. An Odometer Disclosure form if your vehicle is less than 16,000 pounds and less than 20 years old
  1. Bring all these to your local county office.
  1. Pay the following:
Registration fee:$75.60 (if less than 9 years old)
$50.40 (if over 9 years old)
Additional $50 (for fully electric cars)
Title fee:$10
Excise tax:4% of the purchase price

NOTE: If your previous state charges more than 4% excise tax, you won’t have to pay it in South Dakota. However, if it’s lower, you must pay the difference.

  1. Receive your South Dakota registration and plates

For South Dakota Residents Who Bought a Car

If brand-new, the dealer usually handles your registration. 

That, however, is not a guarantee.

In case they don’t, or if you bought your vehicle from a private seller, you must do the following steps:

  1. Download a copy of the Motor Vehicle or Boat Title & Registration Application and complete it.
  1. Gather these documents:
    1. The car title (it must have your name or the manufacturer’s name)
    2. A Bill of Sale form (if you bought it from a private seller)
    3. A Salvage, Recovered Theft, and Uniform Damage disclosure statement (only for vehicles weighing less than 16,000 pounds and less than 7 years old)
    4. Proof of auto insurance in South Dakota
    5. An Odometer Disclosure form if your vehicle is less than 16,000 pounds and less than 20 years old (if you bought a second-hand vehicle)
  1. Bring everything to a local County Treasurer’s office and pay the following:
    1. Registration fees (check the fee table above)
    2. Title fee – $10
    3. Excise tax – 4% of purchase price
  1. Get your registration.

How to Renew License Plates in South Dakota

Don’t rest on your laurels just yet!

Your vehicle’s registration expires annually, meaning you’ll have to renew it every year. 

But don’t fret — South Dakota made the process easy by providing four renewal options:

  • In-person
  • By mail
  • Online
  • Renewal Kiosk

Here’s more good news — all options are straightforward…

Renewing In Person

  1. Bring the renewal postcard sent to you to a local County Treasurer’s office.
NOTE: Usually, it’s the only document you need to bring. However, if your vehicle doesn’t appear on the postcard, you must present proof of ownership.
  1. Pay the renewal fee (don’t forget to check with your County Treasurer’s office regarding the fee amount and what forms of payment are acceptable).

Renewing by Mail

  1. Mail the following to your local County Treasurer’s office:
    1. Renewal postcard complete with your driver’s license number or ID number. 
    2. Proof of ownership (if the postcard does not show your vehicle)
    3. Payment for the renewal fee (ask for the amount) and postage fee ($5 per plate and $1 per decal)
  1. Wait for your registration to arrive via mail. Expect the processing time to span two weeks.

Renewing Online

  1. Have the following ready:
    1. Information from a South Dakota-issued driver’s license or ID
    2. Date of birth
    3. A FEIN number and your state-assigned customer number (for businesses)
  1. Access South Dakota’s online customer portal and log in to your account. If you don’t have one, you can use the same page to create one.
  1. Follow the prompts and pay the following fees:
    1. Renewal fee (varies depending on your vehicle’s weight and age)
    2. Mailing fee ($1 for each registration)
    3. Processing fee ($1.50 if you use an e-check, or $2.25 if you use a debit or credit card)

Renewing Through a DMV Now License Renewal Kiosk

  1. Find a DMV Now License Renewal Kiosk near you. 
  1. Bring your driver’s license or South Dakota ID card.
  1. Scan your credential’s bar codes at the kiosk to see all your vehicle registrations.
  1. Select which one you want to renew.
  1. Pay the required fees with an e-check or debit/credit card (a processing fee is required)
  1. Wait for the machine to dispense your vehicle registration.

But wait, there’s more! 

Besides knowing how to go about your registration renewal, you must also ensure you do it in the correct month, which your last name determines.

If your last name begins with…You must renew by…
A or BJanuary
C, D, or EFebruary
F, G, or JMarch
H, I, or OMay
K or LJune
M or NJuly
P, Q, or RAugust
T, U, V, W, X, Y or ZNovember

Car Registration Penalties in South Dakota

Late vehicle registrations will cost you. 

Besides the usual fees, you must also pay interest and a penalty.

  • Interest on the tax owed:
  • For the first month: 1% of the amount or $5, whichever is greater
  • For every succeeding month: 1% on any application made after 45 days from the date of purchase.
  • One-Time Penalty:
  • 10% of the tax or $10, whichever is greater (for applications made more than 60 days after purchase)

Car Laws in South Dakota

Knowing how to register your vehicle is one thing. 

Beyond that, being familiar with the various car laws in South Dakota is also essential.

We’ve detailed three for you.


You must register your car in South Dakota within a specific period. Otherwise, interest and penalties apply (plus you can’t drive it).

South Dakota gives you more time if you recently relocated — you have 90 days to register your car. 

Remember, you don’t have to have a South Dakota-issued driver’s license to complete the process. However, you must also secure one before your 90 days are up.

South Dakota residents who purchased a new vehicle (either from a dealership or a private seller) have less time. You must register your car within 45 days of purchasing it.

Certificate of Title

You cannot sell or transfer any vehicle in South Dakota without a Certificate of Title.

You must keep this in a secure location — don’t keep it in your vehicle. What you must always have in your car is your registration certificate.

Financial Responsibility 

You must be able to show proof of insurance to drive in South Dakota.

At the very least, your auto insurance policy must have the following coverages and limits:

  • $25,000 in bodily injury per person
  • $50,000 for all the people injured in the accident
  • $25,000 for property damage per accident
  • $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage

However, the state may consider you a high-risk driver if you have violations on your record, such as:

  • A judgment from an uninsured auto accident
  • A conviction for no insurance, DWI, vehicular homicide, or two convictions of reckless driving

In these situations, you must present proof of financial responsibility for the future — typically an SR-22 form, which is more expensive than a standard car insurance policy.

Vehicle Maintenance

Besides ensuring that your vehicle is insured and registered, it must also be safe to operate.

Don’t skip your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule — there’s a reason why that’s in place.

You can also check your vehicle regularly to ensure the essential parts are in working condition. These include your vehicle’s:

  • Braking, steering, suspension, and exhaust systems
  • Windshield, wipers, and windows
  • Tires and tire pressure
  • Engine

If you notice that any of these aren’t performing optimally, it may be time to bring your vehicle to the shop for checks or repairs.

The Wrap Up

So that was everything you needed to know about South Dakota vehicle registration. 

Yes, it’s awesome to have your own vehicle — but don’t forget the obligations that come with it.

Remember, you must ensure it is registered (within 45 or 90 days, depending on your situation), insured, and safe to drive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *