South Dakota License Plate Lookup

Check any South Dakota License Plate for vehicle history records

Vehicle and license plate registrations are all handled by the South Dakota Department of Revenue (DOR) via the state Motor Vehicles Division (MVD). All new applications can be made at any county treasurer's office, while renewals and other services are available online at the dedicated online portal.

In South Dakota, purchasing license plates means that you become the sole owner of these plates. If you buy a new car, you can transfer the license plates from your old vehicle to your newly acquired vehicle through the county treasurer's office. Make sure that you bring the old plates along.

Unique to the state is that the County Treasurer uses the first letter of your last name to issue a license plate and ties it to a specific month of the year. For example, if your last name starts with K or L, you'll need to renew your plates in June.

Since July 1st, 2015, all vehicle owners have a period of 45 days to apply for the title and registration of a newly purchased vehicle. If you're moving in from another state, you have 90 days from your date of arrival to title and license your vehicle.

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    Where Is My South Dakota 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

    You'll first 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.

    What's Important about a License Plate Lookup Report?

    If you intend to buy a used car, a license plate lookup report is going to be a critical component in identifying a good deal. In the report, you'll find various points of information:

    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

    Buying a used car is a more cost-effective step to get a decent secondhand car without breaking the bank. Still, there are risks associated with used car shopping, especially when aspects of a deal might be kept from you. Who knows if you're being given accurate information on a car's current condition?

    Dealerships usually give a free vehicle history report to potential buyers, giving their prospective customers assurance that the car is free of problems. There are, however, irresponsible parties who intentionally alter the details of these reports to deceive buyers like yourself. You might be sold a lemon full of mechanical faults, and your only recourse would be to spend thousands on multiple maintenance trips.

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

    So if you're handed a report by a seller, but something about it doesn't add up, get the license plate number and start looking up its information. A simple move like that 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?

    Yes, they are. We make sure that we comply with the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA): 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.

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