Qualifying for Dealer Plates

Licensed dealers and wholesalers may purchase dealer (demonstration) plates from the SCDMV. The purchase and use of these plates is limited as listed below:

  • The fee for any type of dealer plate is $20 per plate.
  • All dealer plates expire the same month as your dealer license.
  • Any person who misuses a dealer license plate may be fined $300 and forced to surrender the plate.  

You must meet these requirements to be eligible to purchase these types of plates:

  • Dealer Plates or Motorcycle Plates
    • Be a licensed dealer or wholesaler
    • Maintain garage liability insurance
    • Sold 15 motor vehicles in the 12 months preceding your application for the plates
  • Wholesale Auto Auction Plates
    • Be a licensed wholesale auction
    • Maintain garage liability insurance
    • Sold 15 motor vehicles in the 12 months preceding your application for the plates
  • Heavy Duty Truck Dealer Plates
    • Be a licensed dealer or wholesaler
    • Maintain garage liability insurance

If the SCDMV determines you qualify for dealer plates, you may buy dealer plates based on the number of vehicles you sold in the last 12 months. If you sell 15 vehicles, you can buy two plates. You may buy additional plates depending on which category you fall into below:

  • Dealers
    • For every 15 vehicles you sold beyond the first 20, you may buy one additional plate.
  • Auto Auctions
    • For every 50 vehicles you sold beyond the first 20, you may buy one additional plate up to a maximum of 75 plates.
  • Heavy Duty Truck Dealers
    • A dealer exclusively selling heavy-duty trucks (16,000 GVW or more) is eligible to obtain truck dealer plates regardless of the number of trucks sold during the previous year.

The SCDMV has the authority to lift the sales requirement if the company has been licensed less than one year.  The transfer of ownership between the same individual and/or corporation more than one time is considered only one sale. Multiple transfers of motor vehicles between dealers or auctions for the purpose of meeting eligibility requirements are prohibited.

Insurance for Dealer Plates

If you purchase dealer plates, you must meet both requirements listed below:

  • Provide liability insurance information at the time of your licensing
  • Maintain liability insurance throughout the licensing period

Restrictions on Dealer Plates

The use of regular and heavy truck dealer plates is limited to vehicles that are:

  • Owned by the dealership
  • Assigned to the dealership
  • Issued to customers for test-driving purposes

If you have a vehicle with a dealer plate, you may drive it on SC highways. The driver must be an employee or corporate officer of the dealership. Customers of your dealership  may drive the vehicle while test driving. If you choose to allow your customer to drive a vehicle, you must provide them with a completed Motor Vehicle Demonstration Certificate (SCDMV Form MV-38) or the equivalent. Customers are limited to driving vehicles with dealer plates for seven days.

When demonstrating or testing heavy trucks, the customer may use the truck to carry merchandise or cargo for three days. You must provide the customer with a completed Motor Vehicle Demonstration Certificate (SCDMV Form MV-38) or a Truck Demonstration Certificate (SCDMV Form 419-A)*. Employees and corporate officers who drive vehicles using regular or heavy truck dealer plates must be listed on the dealer license application. This listing must include their name, address, and driver's license number.

*The Truck Demonstration Certificate (SCDMV Form 419-A) is no longer available, but it is still accepted.

The use of wholesale auction plates is limited to vehicles where at least one of the following is true:

  • Owned by the auto auction
  • Assigned to the auto auction

Vehicles equipped with wholesale auction plates may be driven by employees or corporate officers of the auto auction if they are listed on the dealer license auto auction application. This listing must include their name, address, and driver's license number. 

Auto auction plates can only be used for transporting motor vehicles in the course of doing business as a wholesale auto auction and must not be attached permanently.

Driver Education Vehicle Loans

If a dealer loans a vehicle to a public or private school for use in a driver education program, the SCDMV will waive the $20 dealer plate fee. The use of a plate for this purpose is not limited. However, when the vehicle is not used as a driver-training vehicle, the dealer plate must be returned to the department.