- Effective January 1, 2020 all registrations will be renewed every year instead of every 3 years.
- The expiration month of your watercraft decals will be the month the personal property taxes on your boat are due to the county along with the $10.00 annual registration renewal fee.
- Beginning January 2021, your annual registration renewal fee of $10.00 will be billed by your county along with your property taxes.
Currently Registered Boats: Current numbers and decals will remain valid until they expire. Counties won’t begin billing current owners for the annual registration until January of 2021, and only then once their current registration is due to expire. Property tax notices and registration renewal fees will be due the month the registration decals expire. So, for a registration renewed in 2019, that owner’s tax bill should not reflect a charge for annual registration until 2022.
Tax Questions: The change to annual registrations may change the look of your yearly tax notice from your county of residence. Counties will begin issuing the new, prospective, tax notices for boats registered within the county beginning in 2020. Individual counties will determine and implement changes to their tax collection processes as directed by the new law. Please note that questions about a boat owners’ individual tax bills MUST be directed to that county’s Auditor or Treasurer’s Office. SCDNR Boating Office assistants will NOT be able to assist owners with questions about their individual tax bills/notices.
Current Owners: The expiration month on the vessel’s current decal will continue to be the month that property taxes are due on that boat. For example, if the boat registration expires in June, then both property taxes and annual registration fees for the coming year will be due in June. (Again, current three-year registrations will be valid until the year of their expiration).
New Registrations (new boats or used boats coming from out-of-state): New registrations will be based on the DATE OF SALE. For example: Upon registration, a boat purchased in January will receive a registration decal valid through the following January, regardless of when the owner applies for the registration (late fees will apply to registrations initiated more than 30 days after the date of purchase). A tax bill for the year covered by the registration will then be mailed by the county, and in subsequent years the county will mail a bill that includes the annual registration renewal fee. Failure to title and register your boat in a timely manner will shorten the duration of your decals. If you purchase your boat in May 2020 but do not title/register until October 2020, your decals will be dated in May 2021.
In-State Changes of Ownership (transfer of an already-titled/registered SC boat from one owner to another): After purchase, the new owner will need to visit their county tax office FIRST to pay the property taxes due for the coming year. The new owner can then apply for title and registration in their name using the paid tax receipt and other required documents. (They will need to apply within 30 days of purchase to avoid late fees.) The registration date will be based on DATE OF SALE. The date of sale will determine the month your property taxes are due and your registration will be renewed. For example, if you purchase a boat in May, your property taxes and registration renewal fees will be due in May. Failure to title and register your boat in a timely manner will shorten the duration of your decals. If you purchase your boat in May 2020 but do not title/register until October 2020, your decals will be dated in May 2021.
Non-taxable Boats Titled and Registered in S.C.: SCDNR will continue to mail renewal notices for boats that are non-taxable (boats that a county has determined have reached the end of their taxable life or dollar threshold). Their expiration month will not change, and the renewal notices will become annual.
Purchasing a Used Boat: SCDNR strongly recommends that prospective buyers research the registration and tax status and any potential recorded liens of any S.C.-registered boat BEFORE purchasing it, using our free online look-up service. Get the facts before you buy! General information and commonly asked questions regarding S.C. boating laws, titling and registration can also be found at this location.
Selling your Boat: It’s important to notify SCDNR in writing within 30 days if you have sold your boat. Not only is it required by law but it provides notification to SCDNR and your county that you no longer own the boat. This will prevent you from receiving any future property tax notices.
Change of Address: You should notify SCDNR in writing of any address changes. This ensures you will receive all future mailings from SCDNR and your property tax notice will be sent by the correct county.