USA Registering and titling an imported vehicle in SC

Discussion in 'Regional' started by Edgecrusher, Dec 21, 2018.

  1. Edgecrusher

    Edgecrusher New Member

    May 15, 2018
    After looking for months to find a JDM transmission for my 92 SVX, and getting it installed at a local shop, I have registered and fully titled it in the state of South Carolina. Not sure how many people that are from SC on this forum (if any), or if anyone is going to find this post through a google search but I am going to post the process here and be as descriptive as possible so this may be quite a read. Keep in mind that this information is only specific to the state of South Carolina, your state may do things a little easier or harder.

    The first thing you are going to have to is make sure you have the Japanese Export Certificate and a translation, the laws and procedures for SC don't make this a requirement to have, but it is good to have just in case, since this is the only document that functions as a title for your vehicle. Next, make sure you have your EPA Form HS-7, your NHTSA declaration form, and ALL of your paperwork from your customs broker if you used one (this includes the power of attorney form, cargo release, ISF form etc.), your sea waybill from the shipping company, the invoice from your exporter, paperwork from the port of landing (forgot the exact name of this document, but it should have the port's letterhead at the top), photocopy of your driver's license, proof of insurance, property tax receipt from your county treasurer's office, and your documents from the SCDMV.

    The documents you are going to need from the SCDMV are going to be Form 400, TI-006, TI-021A, TI-021B, photocopy of your driver's license, and photos of your car from the front, back, left side, right side, VIN numbers, and picture of the instrument panel to show current odometer reading. The photos of the VIN and instrument panel aren't explicitly required, but I included them to make it a bit easier to prove current mileage, and the VIN number since Japanese VIN's do not come up anywhere in their system. The forms are pretty self explanatory, repetitive, and you will need a signature from a Law Enforcement Officer on form TI-021B verifying that the vehicle is operable.

    Now that you have all of your paperwork filled out, signed, dated, and sorted, you can now go to your local county treasurer's office, and pay your taxes. This is where you can expect your first difficulties in getting your car titled and registered. I think it comes down to the VIN number not working in their system, and seeing the Japanese Export certificate in Japanese, or just having bad luck and getting a lazy employee. I showed up to pay my taxes, answered any questions they may have had, the biggest one was if I had my name and the VIN number on the same document, which I proved multiple times over in my mountain of paperwork. But was still turned away due to my proof of insurance being expired because I didn't put my newest ID card in the packet of information, I explained to them that there has literally been no change to my insurance, I was still covered under the same policy number, company, there has been no changes to my policy the only difference was the renewal and expiration date were different, and that there is no law or policies that require proof of insurance for paying vehicle taxes. The lady helping me didn't care, and just turned me away anyways telling me that I needed to provide proof of current insurance. So I left and came back with proof of current insurance, had a different employee help me without any issues or even asking for proof of insurance and sent me on my way.

    This brings us to the biggest mountain to climb and the one that most dread, the DMV, I spoke with a DMV representative over the phone about which forms I would need and that I should be able to handle everything at a local DMV branch office. I took my newly acquired property tax receipt, proof of insurance, and every single document I had on the car to the DMV, there were no lines, and my number was called immediately. Getting immediate service at the DMV never happens, so I should have known that this was too good to be true. I was told that I would have to mail my paperwork to the main office in Blythewood, SC, or that I could make the two hour drive to the main office. I called the DMV back, asked the representative again if I could file all of my paperwork in office, to which she said I could, I responded with that I was told to mail everything in on the vehicle. Some inter-department phone calls were made and it was ultimately decided that I would have to mail all of my forms and paperwork in to main office, and the cost of registration and title would be $305. It took approximately 4 days for me to receive my tag. The title for the car came in the mail 10 days later. Upon getting the title I noticed it has an "undisclosed liens", more about that in the next paragraph.

    Here are some thoughts and considerations I have for the next vehicle I import, if you are a permanent resident of SC, you might not have to fill out form TI-006, because on form TI-021A it states "Copy of the owner’s South Carolina credential; or copy of the owner’s out of state credential, passport, employment authorization document or permanent residency card along with a completed Form TI-006." Due the wording, emphasis on "or", and most of the information on form TI-006 being non applicable to permanent residents I am going to forgo filling it out in the future because that same form is the reason why my title got branded as having an undisclosed lien even though there are none. Second consideration I have not directly related to titling and registration is I am going to do more research into common mechanical issues on whatever particular model of car I am looking into buying before bidding on it. For example, one of the most common issues on the SVX is transmission failure, and they have JDM specific transmissions that weren't available in the North American market, so guess what was wrong with mine.

    So that is the complete process on what to expect and how to register an imported vehicle in the state of SC, if anyone would like clarification or further information on the process just leave a comment and I will answer whatever questions you may have about the process.

    TL;DR: Titling an imported car is a process.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2018
  2. tperkins

    tperkins Devout AYC Disciple

    Jul 3, 2013
    Slave Lake
    Very informative post. I always wondered what it was like for you southern folks