Motor Vehicle

In South Dakota, the county treasurer is responsible for issuing motor vehicle titles, licenses, registrations, and recording liens. Although the Division of Motor Vehicles is the central state office for maintaining accurate motor vehicle records, it is the county treasurer who enters the vehicle information into the central database. This vehicle registration information is not only important to counties, but also other state agencies as well as your local police and sheriff's offices. Vehicle licensing is an important responsibility and necessary for local governments. The money generated from licensing helps maintain your local roads and bridges.

Vehicle Registration & Licensing

Registration is on a staggered licensing system based on the first letter of the owner's last name. Vehicle owners must provide either the South Dakota driver's license number or Social Security number of all registered owners on the title before the license may be renewed.

South Dakota residents have 45 days from the date of purchase of a new or used motor vehicle to transfer title into their name. A penalty of $1 per week up to 26 weeks will be assessed for late transfers. The penalty for a transfer after 26 weeks is $50. In addition, interest and penalties will apply to the 4% motor vehicle excise tax.

In lieu of sales and use taxes, a 3% excise tax is imposed on most motor vehicle transactions unless exempt. The excise tax is based on the purchase price of the motor vehicle listed on the bill of sale, purchase order or sales contract. In some instances, older vehicles may be subject to excise tax, but, currently, all motor vehicles 11 years old or newer are taxed, regardless of purchase price. Credit is given for trade-ins.

License Renewal System

Refer to the following table to determine which month your vehicle licenses will expire.

  • January: A, B
  • February: C,D, E
  • March: F,G, J
  • April:
  • May: H,I,O
  • June: K,L
  • July: M, N
  • August: P, Q, R
  • September: S
  • October:
  • November: T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z

All Commercial Licenses, Boat Licenses, and Snow Mobile Licenses will now be due at staggered times throughout the year the same as regular licenses.

Registration Methods

There are now 4 ways to renew your registrations.

In Person

In person, you will need to bring into the Treasurer's office one of the following: 

1. Vehicle registration renewal card along with a photo ID. You will receive this card in the mail approximately 60 to 90 days prior to your vehicles’ expiration date. Vehicle registration renewal cards are sent out as a courtesy from the Division of Motor Vehicles in Pierre.
2. Your title or copy of your title along with a photo ID.
3. Your current registration, along with a photo ID, if you are leasing the vehicle and do not have a copy of your title.

 By Mail

By mail, to the Treasurer's office:

1. Verify vehicles on the registration renewal postcard. Line through any you do not own or do not want to renew.
2. Include in your payment the appropriate postage fee as shown on the card. 
3. Include your South Dakota Driver License or ID number.
4. Allow 5 to 10 days for processing.


A 4% excise tax is imposed on most motor vehicle transactions and 3% on watercraft transactions unless exempt. The tax is based on the purchase price of the motor vehicle listed on the bill of sale, purchase order, or sales contract. All vehicles 10 model years or newer are taxed, regardless of the purchase price. Vehicles which are 11 or more model years old, may be exempt from the 4% excise tax if the bill of sale indicates a price of $2,500 or less. Credit is given for trade-ins.