South Dakota License Plate Search Online

South Dakota License Plates

South Dakota license plates are distinctive identification markers assigned to vehicles registered in the state by the South Dakota Department of Revenue through its Motor Vehicle Division (MVD). These license plates display an alphanumeric combination, known as a license plate number, which links it to the vehicle it is assigned to. The DOR notably utilizes a county coding system for license plates, where the first digit of the license plate number corresponds to the county where the vehicle is registered, aiding in identification and administrative purposes. The department typically issues two license plates per vehicle, except for motorcycles, recreational vehicles, semitrailers, and trailers, which are issued a single license plate. Private-use vehicles that are not driven for more than 7,500 miles per year may also be issued a single license plate at the department's discretion.

Under Chapter 32-5 of the South Dakota Codified Laws, every vehicle that operates on public highways of the state must have a valid DOR-issued license plate securely fastened to its front and rear (rear only for vehicles issued a single plate), with the plate number clearly visible. These plates are available in various formats and designs, which can be grouped into three main categories:

  • Standard License Plates: these are the standard license plates the DOR issues and are the most common types of license plates available in the state
  • Specialty License Plates: these plates display logos or designs representing or showing affiliation to a particular organization, cause, or interest. Note that some specialty plates may only be assigned to vehicle owners with specific eligibility criteria. Examples of South Dakota specialty license plates currently offered by the DOR include
    • Firefighter license plates
    • Tribal license plates
    • Dignity sculpture plates
    • Disabled person license plates
    • Personalized plates
    • Amateur radio license plates
  • Emblem Specialty Plates: these are distinctive plates that feature a 3" x 3" square space designated for decals approved by the DOR's Motor Vehicle Division. Groups and organizations that can request and submit designs for decals or emblems for emblem specialty plates typically include nonprofit organizations, first responders, and organ donors. Be aware that these entities must meet specific eligibility criteria before their requests will be approved.

You will typically be issued two identical number (validation) stickers along with your license plates when you register your vehicle, and for each subsequent registration renewal – you must attach these stickers to the plates. These stickers show the year and month of the vehicle's registration, are only valid for the current registration period, and serve as proof of your registration.

South Dakota License Plate Design and Formats

South Dakota license plates are rectangular plates crafted with reflective metal sheeting. Standard South Dakota license plates consist of the following key components:

  • License Plate Number: this is the main feature of the plate. This license plate number is screened in black and typically consists of a six-character letter and number combination, with the first digit corresponding to the county where the vehicle is registered.
  • Background Design: since January 2023, standard South Dakota license plates have featured a full-color Mount Rushmore graphic and blue sky as their background design.
  • Motto/Slogan: "South Dakota" is typically screened in red at the top of the license plate, with "GREAT FACES. GREAT PLACES" screened right below this in black.
  • Sticker: a square is provided at the bottom right corner of the license plate, where the number sticker indicating the expiration month and year of the vehicle's registration should be affixed.

Be aware that this design format may vary for other plate types. For example, specialty plates typically include logos, symbols, or slogans representing a particular cause, organization, or interest. These plates (as well as ones assigned to non-passenger vehicles) may also feature plate numbers with a 2 to 7-character alphanumeric combination.

Here are examples of license plates offered by the South Dakota Department of Revenue:

Standard (noncommercial) and Emblem Specialty Plates:

Specialty license plates:

* Source: South Dakota Department of Revenue

South Dakota Vanity License Plate

Vanity license plates in South Dakota are specialty license plates that display a customized license plate number chosen by the vehicle owner. Unlike standard license plates, which typically feature alphanumeric combinations assigned by the state, these personalized plates allow vehicle owners to express individual interests and opinions. Personalized license plates are only available for noncommercial vehicles that have been properly registered with the South Dakota Department of Revenue; this department also oversees the issuance of these plates.

You can order personalized plates by completing, printing, and submitting a signed Personalized Plate Application Form to your county treasurer's office. You will be charged a one-time $7.50 mailing fee for your initial application and a $25 annual personalization fee ($20 for motorcycles). Note that you will still incur your regular registration renewal fees and other applicable local and state taxes.

The DOR provides an online platform that you can use to check the availability of your desired plate customization before placing your orders. These customizations typically have to comply with the following guidelines:

  • Each plate must have at least one letter or number. Regular passenger vehicles, like cars, trucks, and motorhomes, may have up to seven characters, while motorcycles can only have up to six characters
  • A single numeral "1" or "2" cannot be used
  • A space counts as one character
  • Alphabets in the customization must be in uppercase
  • Special characters (like #, $, &, @) cannot be used
  • The desired customization must not conflict with or duplicate another South Dakota license plate or plate series
  • The desired combination should be clear, non-confusing, and easy to read, especially for law enforcement purposes
  • The desired customization should not mimic or pretend to represent any law enforcement agency or emergency service provider
  • Vulgar, offensive, or profane words are not allowed

Be aware that the DOR's Motor Vehicle Division reserves the right to refuse personalized license plate applications or recall any previously issued personalized plates. If your application is denied, you will be notified of the reason for this denial, and your application fee will be refunded. You also have the choice of re-applying with a different plate number customization. You can contact your county treasurer's office for an estimated processing and delivery timeline for your personalized plates. Queries can also be directed to the South Dakota Motor Vehicle Division at (605) 773-3541.

Most Popular South Dakota Special Plate Numbers

Some common specialty license plate themes in South Dakota are:

  • Dignity sculpture license plates
  • Military license plates
  • Collegiate license plates
  • Emblem/Special cause license plates
  • Trial license plates
  • Amateur radio license plates

South Dakota License Plate Lookup

In South Dakota, license plate lookups are used to access information about a vehicle by searching its license plate number through official databases or online services. This process can be utilized for several purposes, like verifying vehicle ownership and checking vehicle history to make informed decisions when buying or selling a vehicle. License plate lookups are also typically used for law enforcement, investigative, and legal matters. Information obtainable through a license plate lookup normally includes vehicle registration details, such as the make, model, year, and VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), liens, and vehicle recalls. Authorized law enforcement officials may also access personal information on the registered vehicle owner, like their name and address.

You can access vehicle information in South Dakota by completing and submitting a Private Individual Vehicle Information Request Form, either to your county treasurer's office or directly to the state's Motor Vehicle Division via mail-in to:

State of South Dakota
Motor Vehicle Division
445 E. Capitol Avenue
Pierre, SD 57501

Note that this process uses the vehicle's identification number (VIN), not its plate number. You must also indicate a reason for requesting the information and pay the applicable fees before your request will be processed.

Alternatively, you can utilize third-party websites like RecordsFinder to access public vehicle information online through a reverse license plate search. With these websites, you can obtain basic information like the vehicle's make and model at no cost; however, you may be charged a nominal fee for a more comprehensive vehicle report.

Be aware that Section 32-5-147 of the South Dakota Codified Laws limits the disclosure of a registered vehicle owner's personal information, such as their name, address, telephone, Social Security, and driver's license number to law enforcement officials and other specific individuals or organizations.

South Dakota Reverse License Plate Number Search

Reverse license plate number searches serve the same purpose as license plate lookups - to access and retrieve vehicle information. However, their methodologies differ slightly. License plate lookups use a plate number to retrieve the required information, while a reverse license plate search uses available details on the vehicle, like its make and model, to retrieve this information, which may include the associated license plate number.

You can perform reverse license plate searches for vehicles registered in South Dakota online through RecordsFinder and other similar third-party websites. Be aware that these websites are bound by federal and state laws regarding the disclosure of vehicle-related information. As such, your search results will not include personal information on registered vehicle owners.

What Do I Need to Get a License Plate in South Dakota?

The South Dakota Department of Revenue oversees the issuance of license plates to vehicle owners in the state. These plates are typically issued to vehicles appropriately titled and registered with the department's Motor Vehicle Division. Note that you must initiate this process within 45 days of purchasing a vehicle; otherwise, you will be subject to a state-imposed penalty, including fines and a potential class 2 misdemeanor charge.

Vehicle titling and registration in South Dakota are handled locally by county treasurer's offices. You will be required to complete and submit a Motor Vehicle Title & Registration Application Form to the appropriate office, along with the applicable fees. These fees are determined by your vehicle type, its purchase value, and local taxes and administrative costs. Note that the application form must be signed by either the vehicle owner or an authorized representative – if signed by the latter, a Power of Attorney document must be included to validate their authorization.

Vehicle registration in South Dakota typically follows a staggered system based on the first letter of the registrant's last name (or the initial letter of the business name for businesses) and a correlating month, which will be the vehicle's registration renewal month. Processing times vary based on your county treasurer's office, their workload at the time of the application, and any specific circumstances related to the application. Be aware that, in South Dakota, the vehicle seller is responsible for providing buyers with a temporary permit (issued by the DOR) allowing them to operate the newly purchased vehicle while their plates are being processed. You may subsequently purchase another permit if extended time is needed after the seller's permit expires.

Contact your county treasurer's office for more information on their specific vehicle registration and license plate issuance process and timeline. Queries can also be directed to the state's Motor Vehicle Division at (605) 773-3541.

Differences Between a Passenger License Plate and a Commercial License Plate in South Dakota

In South Dakota, passenger vehicles refer to automobiles designed primarily for transporting people. These vehicles are typically used for commuting, running errands, leisure activities, and other personal transportation purposes. Examples include sedans, SUVs, minivans, and coupes. On the other hand, vehicles used for transporting people or goods for payment or profit or designed, maintained, and mainly used for transporting property weighing more than 500 pounds are considered commercial motor vehicles. Per state law, these vehicles must display commercial license plates. However, exemptions from this requirement are made for certain commercial vehicles used for intrastate operations. These include:

  • Vehicles used to transport liquid or solid livestock waste or agricultural chemicals
  • Vehicles owned by farmers and used for farming operations or transporting farm goods
  • Vehicles exclusively used for transporting products from logging, mining, or lumber operations
  • Appropriately registered vehicles used exclusively for on-site construction projects
  • Vehicles used solely for educational purposes as part of a nonprofit institution's course
  • Vehicles used for personal or recreational purposes and not for private business
  • Registered school buses operating under specific provisions and possessing required compliance documentation
  • Vehicles used solely for educational purposes as part of a nonprofit institution's course

The table below outlines key differences between license plates issued for passenger vehicles and ones issued for commercial vehicles in South Dakota:

Features Passenger License Plate Commercial License Plate
Vehicle Use
  • Personal
  • For hire or profit
  • Commercial purposes
Plate number arrangement

Six-character alpha-numeric combination for standard plates with (1A1 234), (1AB 123), (10A 123), (10A B12), (44A BC1) serial formats

*specialty (and personalized) plates may have 2 – 7 characters

6 – 7 character alphanumeric combination with (12345 A) and (123456A) serial formats
Design & Color

Green lettering with a white background with an image of an orange blossom over the state map in the middle

Black lettering on a reflective, full-color Mount Rushmore graphic and blue sky background. "South Dakota" is written in red at the top of the plate, with "GREAT FACES. GREAT PLACES". written in black right underneath it.

* background designs and slogans may vary for specialty plates

Blue lettering over a reflective white background with a blue band at the bottom of the plate. "South Dakota" is written in red above the plate number, with the vehicle classification written in white at the bottom (in the blue band).
Vehicle Types SUVs, minivans, sedans, coupes, etc. Heavy trucks, trailers, truck tractors, etc.
Requirements for obtaining

* local county treasurer's office may require additional fees based on your specific circumstances

Same as passenger license plates

* vehicles with a tonnage of 28 tons or more must provide proof of filing/payment of the Federal Heavy Vehicle Use Tax

How to Renew License Plate in South Dakota

Vehicle registration in South Dakota has to be renewed annually – completing this process also renews your plates. South Dakota license plates are typically issued using a staggered system that is based on the first letter of the registrant's last name and a correlating month, during which these plates (and your vehicle's registration) must be renewed:

First Letter of Last Name Renewal Month
A, B January
C, D, E February
F, G, J March
H, I, O May
K, L June
M, N July
P, Q, R August
S September
T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z November

The South Dakota Motor Vehicle Division usually sends vehicle registrants' annual renewal notices approximately three months before their renewal is due. The department also currently offers four renewal options:

  • In-person Renewals through your county treasurer's office. You will need to bring along your renewal notice and a valid photo ID. If the vehicle to be renewed is not indicated in your renewal postcard (included in the renewal notice), you will also have to go along with the vehicle's title form or any other acceptable proof of vehicle ownership.
  • Mail-in Renewals. To utilize the option, indicate your driver's license number (or ID number from a valid photo ID) on your renewal postcard and mail this, along with the stipulated fees, to your county treasurer's office. You should also include proof of ownership, such as the title or license renewal form, if the vehicle you want to renew is not listed on the postcard. Mail-in renewals are typically processed within two weeks. Be aware that you may be charged additional postage fees.
  • Online Renewals via the Department of Revenue's Vehicle Registration & Plates portal. To utilize this option, you must have a valid driver's license or ID issued by the state's Department of Public Safety. Businesses will also require a FEIN number and a state-assigned customer number (as indicated on the vehicle's renewal notice) to access the portal. Be aware that you will also be charged a processing fee for using the portal in addition to the regular renewal costs.
  • Renewals via DMV Now License Renewal Kiosks. The Motor Vehicle Division provides access to several self-service terminals across the state that you can use to initiate the renewal process and obtain your renewal tags on the spot. You will need a valid driver's license, state-issued photo ID, or the information provided in your renewal notice (for companies). Note that a processing fee is applied when you utilize this option.

Renewal fees are typically based on your vehicle type, applicable taxes, late renewal penalties (if any), and chosen renewal method. Contact your county treasurer's office for additional information on license plate renewals. You can also call the state's Motor Vehicle Division at (605) 773-3541 for assistance.

How to Transfer a License Plate in South Dakota

You can transfer your South Dakota license plates from an old vehicle to a newly acquired one. Be aware that you cannot transfer these plates to another individual; the newly acquired vehicle must be titled and registered in your name (or you must be a co-owner of the car). License plate transfers are handled locally by county treasurer's offices. Contact the appropriate office for specific information on initiating the process and applicable transfer fees.

South Dakota License Plate Lookup Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I Find the Owner of a License Plate in South Dakota?

South Dakota implements the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) and incorporates provisions of this act into state law. To this end, personal information contained in motor vehicle records, like the registrant's name, address, and telephone number, can only be disclosed under specific circumstances. These include law enforcement investigations, legal proceedings, insurance investigations, and notifying vehicle owners of towing or impoundment. Therefore, you may not be able to find the owner of a license plate in South Dakota without a valid and state-recognized reason for doing so.

Notwithstanding this, you can access non-personal vehicle information on over 269 million vehicles registered across the US through websites like RecordsFinder that allow you to perform reverse license plate searches using either the car's plate number or VIN.

Can I Get a Replacement for My Lost License Plate in South Dakota?

You can get a replacement for lost license plates in South Dakota by completing and submitting an Affidavit for Duplicate License Plate/Validation Sticker to your county treasurer's office. Be aware that you must first report the lost or stolen plate to your local law enforcement agency; depending on your jurisdiction, you may be issued a police or sheriff form to attach to your affidavit. Replacement plates typically cost $10 for automobiles and $2 for motorcycles and trailers. In situations where only one plate is missing, you will be required to surrender the remaining plate to the county treasurer's office.

What Do Police See When They Run Your License Plates in South Dakota?

South Dakota law enforcement agencies typically have access to a wide range of personal and non-personal motor vehicle information when they run license plates. This information includes:

  • The vehicle's make, model, and year
  • The vehicle's registration status
  • The registered vehicle owner's name, address, and phone number
  • The vehicle owner's driver's license number and status
  • Records of driving violations
  • Stolen vehicle alerts and BOLOs
  • Active warrants on the vehicle owner

Can I Search License Plates for Free in South Dakota?

Many people use free license plate searches to review a vehicle's background and check details like its make and model, year, body style, engine type, tank size, and price. These services are also often used to verify that vehicles aren't being sold with cloned VINs. You can use third-party websites like RecordsFinder to perform reverse license plate searches in South Dakota and access this basic vehicle information at no cost.

What Is the Penalty for Driving with an Expired License Plate in South Dakota?

You must renew your vehicle's registration annually to keep your license plates valid. This renewal must be done by the last day of your registration's expiration month (as indicated on your plate's validation stickers). Failing to renew your plates by this date and driving with these expired plates (and vehicle registration) is considered a class 2 misdemeanor. This offense is punishable by up to $500 in fines, up to 30 days imprisonment in a county jail, or a combination of fines and jail time. You may also face additional sanctions from the South Dakota Motor Vehicle Division.

Do I Need to Return License Plates in South Dakota?

South Dakota is a "plate with owner" state; as such, license plates are typically retained by the vehicle owner. However, certain circumstances may require you to surrender your plates to the state's Department of Revenue (through your county treasurer's office). These include:

  • You request a replacement for damaged plates. You must surrender the damaged plates to your county treasurer before being issued the replacements. This also applies to missing plate replacements; you must surrender any remaining plates before being issued a new set.
  • You relocate to a new county and request new plates reflecting your current county of residence. You must surrender the old plates to your current county treasurer's office.

Can I Keep My South Dakota License Plate If I Move to Another State?

You do not need to surrender your South Dakota plates to the Motor Vehicle Division if you move to another state. However, per state regulations, these plates automatically become void once you title and register the vehicle out-of-state, even if your South Dakota registration hasn't expired. As such, if you return to the state with the vehicle within the same registration year, you must get new license plates from your county treasurer's office and surrender the out-of-state title.

What Size Are License Plates in South Dakota?

Standard South Dakota license plates measure 12 inches by 6 inches; however, motorcycle plates are smaller, measuring 7 inches by 4 inches.

How Long Can You Drive with Temporary License Plates in South Dakota?

The South Dakota Department of Revenue offers several temporary permits allowing individuals to operate a vehicle without a valid vehicle registration or license plate. These include:

  • 5 – 15 Day Temporary Permits: these are only issued for noncommercial vehicle operations and can be purchased at local county treasurer's offices. These permits cost $1 per day requested (for a minimum of five days). They are typically only issued once per year per vehicle
  • Seller's Permits: these are 45-day permits issued to individuals who purchase vehicles through a private sale, which allows them to operate the vehicle while it is being titled and registered. These permits must be obtained by the private seller and issued to the buyer at no cost; private sellers who fail to do this can face class 2 misdemeanor charges. In situations where extra time is needed to title and register the vehicle, the buyer may then purchase a 5 – 15 day permit (be aware that you will be required to justify this extended time)
  • Plate Order Permits: these permits are issued to individuals who request specialty plates and are typically valid for 30 days or until the requested plates are delivered, whichever comes first. Be aware that these permits are only issued to applicants who have already titled and registered their vehicle with the Department of Revenue or have a pending title application with the department

Be aware that driving a vehicle with expired temporary permits is against the law and punishable by fines of up to $500, jail time of up to 30 days, or a combination of both.

What Are the Steps to Renew a License Plate in South Dakota?

South Dakota license plates must be renewed annually; the state's Department of Revenue typically sends registrants a renewal notice about three months before their renewal due date. You can renew your plates by taking the following steps:

  • Review your renewal notice and resolve any noted issues
  • Select your preferred renewal method. The DOR currently offers four options for renewal – in-person renewals either at a county treasurer's office or a DMV Now self-service terminal, online renewals, and renewals by mail
  • Initiate the renewal process and pay all required fees
  • Get your new registration and validation stickers
  • Properly affix the validation stickers to your license plates

What Do I Do If My License Plate Is Lost or Stolen in South Dakota?

Take the following steps if your South Dakota plates are missing or stolen:

  • Report the missing or stolen plates to your local law enforcement agency
  • Complete an Affidavit for Duplicate License Plate/Validation Sticker
  • Submit the signed affidavit to your county treasurer's office. It is advisable to contact this office beforehand to determine if any additional documentation may be required
  • Pay the stipulated fees

How to Pay Parking Tickets in Alabama

Sioux Falls, South Dakota
State: South Dakota
County: Minnehaha 
Pay by Mail: Link

Attach the proper postage and mail your payment and citation in the included envelope. Checks payable to "City of Sioux Falls."

Pay in Person: Link

Make payment at any one of First PREMIER Bank's multiple Sioux Falls locations. Save time by dropping it off in the drive thru lane.

Pay in Person Address:
1808 S Cliff Ave
Sioux Falls, SD 57105
Phone: (605) 357-3071
Lobby Hours: M-F 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Drive Up: M-F 7:30 am - 6:00 pm, Sat 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
1.26 mi Saftey Deposit Box Available Atm Available, 1305 W 18th Street
Sioux Falls, SD 57105
Phone: (605) 357-3100
Lobby Hours: M-F 7:00 am - 6:00 pm, Sat. 8:00 am - 12:00 pm, 3401 S Kiwanis Ave
Sioux Falls, SD 57105
Phone: (605) 357-3160
Lobby Hours: M-F 9:00 am - 5:00 pm, Sat 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Drive Up: M-F 7:30 am - 6:00 pm, Sat 9:00 am - 1:00 pm. Find your closest location and hours at
Pay Online: Link Have your citation number or license plate number available.