South Carolina Boat Bill of Sale Form


A South Carolina boat bill of sale form solidifies the arrangement between two (2) parties concerning a vessel. The buyer and seller complete the document to transfer the watercraft and provide a permanent record of the ownership change. It establishes each person’s name, contact information, and the boat’s make, model, year, size, title, and hull identification number (HIN). If the sale involves a motor and/or trailer, the document must also contain identifying information about the item.

What is a South Carolina Vessel Bill of Sale?

A South Carolina vessel bill of sale is a legal document to authenticate a transaction between a buyer and seller. Similar to a receipt, it notes the pricing, tax amount, and payment type. Either person can refer to the form to find the sale date and general information about the transfer. The document itself does not register the vessel or transfer its title. Instead, the buyer must apply for title and registration through the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR).

Did You Know?

Residents and non-residents sixteen (16) years or older do not need a license to drive a boat in South Carolina. However, individuals younger than sixteen (16) years old have restrictions. They can only operate a vessel with less than fifteen (15) horsepower; otherwise, they must have an adult present or a boater education card from the SCDNR. The accompanying adult must be at least eighteen (18) years old and cannot be intoxicated. This person holds legal responsibility if they allow a child in their care to drive a vessel illegally.

How to Register a Boat in South Carolina (5 Steps)

Owners of vessels in South Carolina must title and register their boat unless the outboard motor is under five (5) horsepower, an inboard motor, or is otherwise exempt. When purchasing a boat (or motor), the purchaser must ensure that the title and registration are in the seller’s name. Furthermore, the seller must report the sale to the SCDNR within thirty (30) days to remove their liability for the vessel and prevent the county from assessing future property taxes through the submission of Form BM-400.

Step 1 – Exemptions

Documented vessels, manually propelled watercraft (i.e., canoes, kayaks, etc.), windsurfers, and paddleboards do not require a title or registration in South Carolina.

Step 2 – Title

Owners who purchased a watercraft in-state must provide the SCDMV with the following information:

Individuals who bought a vessel outside of the state must submit the information listed below to the SCDMV:

Step 3 – Registration

Residents of South Carolina must take the necessary steps to title and register their vessels with the SCDMV within thirty (30) days of purchasing. If they miss the application deadline, late fees will apply. Operators can use a temporary certificate of number and a photocopy of the bill of sale or title for up to sixty (60) days after the purchase date. Furthermore, they must pay property taxes before registration and titling, with proof of a paid receipt from the county taxable. If the owner purchases the vessel out-of-state or new, the county will bill the owner after they complete the title and registration process with the SCDNR. The registration number remains with the boat as long as the owner keeps it registered in South Carolina.

Provide the Following:

Step 4 – Numbers + Decal

The boat registration number must be displayed clearly on the bow’s port and starboard sides in at least three (3) inch high block letters. The numbers must be legible and easily distinguishable from the background, and the letters should be separated from the numbers by a space or a hyphen (e.g., SC 8576 PF or SC-8576-PF). Owners must not place any other text or stickers in this area to ensure complete visibility. They must also attach the boat expiration decal within six (6) inches of the registration number.

Step 5 – Renew

The state requires annual registration renewals for all owners. Decals expire during the month the county requires payment for personal property taxes; they bill the yearly renewal fee of $10 with those taxes. The owner receives new decals each registration year, which they must attach to the vessel. They must remove the previous sticker before doing so. Furthermore, residents must notify the SCDMV of address changes as they happen to ensure the property tax notice goes to the correct county (Form CU-100).

Mailing Address:
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
Attn. Titling & Registration
P.O. Box 167
Columbia, SC 29202