South Dakota License Plate Lookup

Check any South Dakota License Plate for vehicle history records

The South Dakota Department of Revenue (DOR), through its Motor Vehicles Division (MVD), manages all vehicle and license plate registrations. New registrations can be processed at any county treasurer's office, while renewals and additional services are available online through the state's dedicated portal.

In South Dakota, when you purchase license plates, you become their registered owner. If you acquire a new car, you have the option to transfer the license plates from your previous vehicle to the new one at the county treasurer's office—just remember to bring the old plates with you.

Since 2015, vehicle owners are given a 45-day window to apply for a title and registration after purchasing a new vehicle. New residents from other states have a 90-day period from their date of arrival to title and register their vehicles in South Dakota.

Page Overview
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    Fun Fact! 🎉

    A distinctive feature of South Dakota's system is that the county treasurer issues license plates based on the first letter of your last name, which corresponds to a specific renewal month. For instance, if your last name begins with K or L, your renewal month is June.

    Where is the License Plate Number?

    South Dakota license plates must be placed on the front and rear of your vehicle as per state requirements. If you need to lookup your vehicle's license plates but aren't currently with your vehicle, you can find it on your registration card or other legal documentation.

    Note that vehicle and boat registration cards share the same template

    Getting a License Plate in South Dakota

    First things first, you will need to register and title your vehicle before you can get license plates. For dealership purchases, the dealership will handle the titling and registration on your behalf. However, it wouldn't hurt to know what documents may need to be submitted, just in case.

    Besides a completed application form, you may also need to submit any of the following:

    • A Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (MSO) or Certificate of Origin (MCO), if applicable
    • Salvage and Recovered Theft Statement (if applicable)
    • Identification card or driver's license
    • Odometer disclosure form
    • Original vehicle title (if applicable)
    • Bill of sale (for private sales, if applicable)
    • Payment of all fees, including registration fees and the 4% excise tax

    If you own a vehicle that's titled and licensed in another state, you're granted reciprocity once you move to South Dakota and will not need to pay the state's 4% excise tax as long as the originating state’s tax rate is higher.

    You'll need temporary registration to legally operate the vehicles before your permanent plates arrive. You can buy a 5 to 15-day temporary permit from the county treasurer's office. The fee is $1 per day for each day the permit is requested, with a minimum fee of $5.

    Alternatively, "private sellers" can obtain, and then provide you with, a seller's permit that has a validity period of 45 days.

    License Plates Available in South Dakota

    South Dakota license plates follow the format of six alphanumeric characters. Standard plates have a picture of Mount Rushmore in the background.

    Other plates include:

    • Personalized plates: These plates can have no more than seven letters. Besides the standard fees, there is an additional $25 annual fee.
    • Disabled plates: Issued to disabled persons. There is no additional charge for these license plates.
    • Military/Veteran plates: These plates are issued to active duty and former members of the military, including disabled persons. There are a variety of plates depending on which military arm a veteran served with, or if they were medal recipients (e.g., the Purple Heart).
    • Specialty plates: These cater to people working for or affiliated with various causes, organizations or institutions. These include South Dakotan firefighters and Native American tribes.

    Benefits of a License Plate Lookup Report

    If you're planning to purchase a used car, obtaining a license plate lookup report is essential for identifying a worthwhile deal. The report will provide you with various key details:

    Market value: The estimated or actual market value of the car. You'll be able to tell if a seller might be selling that vehicle for more than its actual market value.

    Previous owners: Find out the number of previous owners the vehicle has had and how long they've had it in their possession. It doesn't disclosed any of their personal information but does help inform you of how the car was used before it was sold.

    Accident records: Find out if the car was involved in any road accidents. In some cases, cars that might have been involved in an accident did not undergo the necessary maintenance to keep it roadworthy. If you find any such records, an independent check may point out potential problems the car may have.

    Flood records: Note any damage to the car caused by floods. Floods can cause certain mechanical faults that can be missed without a thorough inspection. In some cases, you might not be informed beforehand by the seller, whether by accident or otherwise.

    Junk/salvage title check: This tells you if the car had previously sustained significant damage, and was declared a ‘total loss’ by an insurance company. This record indicates that the total costs to maintain or restore the car are far too expensive owing to the severity of damage it's sustained.

    Title brands: Besides salvage and junk titles, other brands such as "lemon" indicate other problems that a car may have. In the case of a "lemon" brand, it means that the car is fraught with various mechanical problems.

    Lien records: Provides information on whether the car has been used in a lease, as collateral for a debt, as a rental car unit, etc. A car dealership (or the previous owner) is legally obligated to settle any remaining liens before the car can be sold. If not, you may become liable to repay the remaining amount.

    Odometer records: Determine how far the vehicle has been driven. In many cases, fraudulent parties will alter odometer records to falsely claim the vehicle has been driven far less than it actually has. As odometer tampering is considered a federal offense, you should report the seller immediately to the relevant authorities.

    Protecting Yourself from Fraud

    Purchasing a used car is an economical way to acquire a reliable vehicle without overspending. However, buying used cars comes with its own set of risks, particularly if certain details of the deal are not fully disclosed. It's hard to be sure if the information provided about the car's condition is entirely accurate.

    Dealerships often provide a free vehicle history report to reassure potential buyers of the car's integrity. But, it won't hurt to get a background check yourself. Really, it's as simple as 123.

    With VinFreeCheck's license plate lookup, you can quickly access accurate and consistently updated information on any particular vehicle.

    All the data is sourced from reputable parties such as the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) and the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS), to name a few. Just key in the license plate number into the field, and you'll get your report in just a few seconds' time. It's that easy!

    This simple step could help you identify red flags in a deal, saving you a migraine from car troubles in the future.

    Are Reverse License Plate Searches Legal?

    Absolutely! We comply with the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), where we will not disclose any personal information about a vehicle's prior owners. Our lookup system performs a reverse lookup that obtains the vehicle's VIN number and searches for its history reports. Nothing in our report is traceable to any particular individuals.

    Additionally, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows any individual the right to access to information collected by the government. There's no reason for you not to give our auto license plate lookup tool a try. It's totally legal and FREE!

    State Based Informational Guides

    We have compiled a list of state specific guides for you. Feel free to check them out.

    Paperwork for Buying a Car in United States

    You will always need to carry out different types of paperwork — whenever you purchase a car — so that you can title your car under your name and drive it legally on the road. So, whenever you are going...

    Motorcycle Registration

    If you have just purchased a motorcycle, the next thing that you will need to do, is to register it. In order to legally drive a motorcycle on public roads in any state, you need to get your motorcycle registered....