Free South Carolina License Plate Lookup

Nancy Dunham

Written by

Nancy DunhamAutomotive & Business Journalist
Miranda Yan

Reviewed by

Miranda YanEditorial Director & Co-Founder

Updated on: Mar 22, 2023

Get a comprehensive history of a used car

  • Specifications and equipment details.
  • Accidented or stolen.
  • Known and hidden repairs.
  • Past and present market values.
  • Sales records, title issues, and liens.

For many people, buying a used car is a good option compared to spending a lot of money on a new one. In fact, a car that is a few years old can still look like one  in new condition. 

But before buying any used vehicle in South Carolina, it is always a good idea to do a South Carolina license plate lookup, which can keep you safe from purchasing stolen vehicles or falling victim to fraud.

What to Know About the South Carolina License Plate?

All cars, vans, trucks, and motorcycles in South Carolina state have a single plate displayed at the rear. Currently, the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) issues license plates with stickers containing expiration dates.

Why Is It Important to Do a South Carolina License Plate Lookup?

Not every car seller is honest about the vehicle details, especially the selling price and recent history, so it's important to cross-check if you want to buy a used car.

  • Check the Vehicle History - Although a car may look like it is in good condition, it always pays to be aware of its history. Looking up a license plate helps you stay on top of the car's accident and maintenance records if there are any, which might result in costly repairs. 
  • Confirm Current Market Value - With a license plate search, you can find out the price at which the vehicle first sold and check whether its overall condition matches what the seller says. That will help you determine if you are getting a good deal. 
  • Avoid Buying an Illegal Car - The person selling the vehicle may not be the legal owner. A free license plate lookup will give you an accurate picture of everything that has happened to the car since it was manufactured, so you can be reassured that it is completely legal.

How Do Online License Plate Lookups and SCDMV License Plate Lookups Work?

The common places to check a license plate in South Carolina are online license plate search tools and the SCDMV. Here's how they work––

Third-Party Search Portal

Typically, an online VIN lookup platform like VinPit offers license plate lookup and VIN check services. It pulls records from various legal and public sources including government websites, insurance companies and the auto industry to offer its customers accurate vehicle data.

The whole process is fast. Just enter the license plate number in the search box at the top of the page, and click “Start Search.”  A detailed report about the vehicle will appear on your screen, including images of the car, and sometimes even videos.

South Carolina DMV

South Carolina DMV also allows residents to check a vehicle through its registration number or VIN number. With the required information, you can obtain vehicle records, vehicle documents, driver abstracts and other details.  

You are able to access many of their reliable resources online so you don’t have to wait in line at an office. Note that this website can seem complicated, and it is not always easy to navigate.

What Will I Find Out From a License Plate Lookup in South Carolina?

Any public member can easily use an online search portal to look up a South Carolina license plate. The search results usually include vehicle information such as:

  • Vehicle age
  • Make & model
  • Driveline
  • Trim level
  • Engine type
  • Transmission
  • Manufacturer
  • Type of braking system
  • Manufacturer suggested retail price

But you should note that the car owner's name, address, phone number, social security number, and other personal details will not be released under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), 

Is the Vehicle Report From South Carolina License Plate Lookup Reliable?

Undoubtedly, this is most people's primary concern when using a third-party vehicle search service, so it is always advisable to work with a reliable service provider such as VinPit.

We scan public information from the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), DMVs of all states, insurance companies, and other authorities. You can rest assured that the report we present to you is 100% accurate.

Top Searched Questions

Is There a 100% Free South Carolina License Plate Lookup?

In most cases, an online license plate lookup tool like VinPit is totally free of charge. However, if the information you get from these search engines does not satisfy your needs, you might look for other ways to check. Those will certainly incur extra fees,

Is a License Plate Lookup Differ From a VIN Check in South Carolina?

Both the VIN number and license number are used to identify a vehicle and you can use either of them to look up a car. The DMV collects all the details about the vehicle and its owner, so the information you get from a license plate lookup or VIN check is basically the same.

What Do I Need When Requesting Vehicle Records from SCDMV?

When requesting records through SCDMV, you must fill out a form MV-70 with the required information including your name, address, phone number and other relevant information. In some cases, you must provide signed consent from the vehicle owner. 
You then need to provide details including the owner's name, date of birth, and either their driver's license number or beginner's permit number or another ID number.

Can I Do a License Plate Lookup in South Carolina on My Own?

Yes, you can, there is no law against this behavior. But this involves lots of effort since you need to contact various parties like the police department, the SCDMV, a federal agency, a service station, and an insurance company.