Titling a newly purchased watercraft

In South Dakota buyers have 45 days from the date of purchase of a new or used watercraft to transfer the 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 $50.00. In addition, interest of 1% and penalties will apply to the 3% excise tax once the 45 days has lapsed with additional fees due on the 60th day after purchase.

*Most, but not all, types of watercraft are titled and/or registered in South Dakota. Please see the below FAQ, or contact our office, to determine if your watercraft needs to be titled or registered.

Titling requires providing a valid South Dakota driver’s license or ID for each owner. If an owner has an out of state driver’s license or ID then a clear copy of their social security card, or other acceptable proof, will be required. Businesses must provide their FEIN #. If there are multiple owners both may need to sign the documents depending on how the names are connected.

Know your county- if you live in Box Elder your physical address could be either Pennington County or Meade County. South Dakota residents must register their vehicles in the county they reside.

Documents required to title all newly purchased vehicles in South Dakota

Ownership document (Title, Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin, or registration)

Purchase agreement or valid Bill of Sale

South Dakota Motor Vehicle and Boat Title Application (MV-1001)

Driver’s License or State Issued ID for all owners

      Proof of Social Security Number is required with an out of state Driver’s License or ID

Out of State Dealer Tax Assessment (Form 1004) if taxes were paid out of state at the time of purchase

Additional documents may be needed based on the individual transaction. Any cross outs, white out, or other alterations to documents may void them or require an affidavit for correction. Please see the below FAQ for more information on the above documents.

Ownership Document

Proof of ownership is required to title a new or used watercraft in South Dakota. If the watercraft was purchased from a seller that resides in a state that titles that type of watercraft, the title is required. If it was purchased from a seller that resides in a state that only registers that type of watercraft, the original paper registration or the properly assigned Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin is required. 

Title transfer and registration fees

Title transfer $10.00 (when applicable)

Lienholder notation fee $10.00 (when applicable)

Excise tax of 3% (see below FAQ)

Registration fees (see below)

County watercraft fee $3.00


In South Dakota registration fees for watercrafts are determine by the type and length of the watercraft.  All watercraft with a motor attached (gas or electric) must be registered. Watercraft over 12 feet in length, with or without a motor, must be registered.

A non-motorized watercraft over 12 feet in length- $15.00 annual

A motorized watercraft under 19 feet in length- $25 annual

A motorized watercraft over 19 feet in length- $45 annual

Processing through the mail

Fees are prorated from the date of purchase to your renewal month. If it is within 90 days from your renewal month your registration will be calculated through to the following year. The renewal month is determined by the first letter of the owner’s last name or first letter of the company name and must be renewed annually.

If processing through the mail all documents will need to be mailed to our office. Paperwork mailed in is receipted in and worked in the order it is received- not necessarily on the day it arrives from your chosen carrier. Expect up to two weeks plus processing time. If additional documents are needed and mailed in, they will follow the normal mail process. Requests to the contrary are subject to Administrative fees.

It is the sender’s responsibility to follow up on processing to avoid interest and penalties. Title work starts accruing interest if not completed 45 days from your purchase date. We do not go by when the paperwork is mailed/received in our office. You are responsible to have all documents in and paid for. You are strongly encouraged to mail in advance to avoid penalties.

Once your paperwork has been reviewed you will be contacted for payment or for any missing documents. Please include valid contact information with your paperwork. A $3.00 long distance call fee may be applicable. We will reach out via email if an email address is given- watch your junk or spam folder so you don’t miss any correspondence regarding your transaction.

Transactions done through the mail will be charged a $25.00 administrative fee and a postage and handling fee to mail the plates and registration ($1.50 per registration).

Payment options

Our system is not setup to take prepaid debit cards, gift cards or loaded employee payroll cards.

Checks, Money Orders, and Cashier’s Checks should be made payable to Pennington County Treasurer.

        No counter, starter, PMB, or out of state checks will be accepted.


Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover cards are accepted and subject to a 2.49% service charge. The issued card holder must be present with valid ID for the card to be accepted.

Additional Information

South Dakota Boating Handbooks are available at the Treasurer’s Office. They include applicable laws, how to display required boat numbers and registration decals, and other important information for operating a watercraft on South Dakota waters. For more information outside of titling and registering a watercraft please contact the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks department.

Expedited service can be requested for a $25.00 administrative fee. Please address your package with Attn: EXPEDITE, state you are paying for an expedite on your cover letter, and include payment for the $25.00 fee. If additional documents are needed and mailed in, they will follow the normal mail process unless they are also marked expedite and include the expedite fee for the new documents.

To obtain a quote prior to sending in your paperwork please give us a call at 605-394-2163. All quotes are considered estimates and are based off the information provided to us.

If you have additional questions not answered here please call our office at 605-394-2163 from 8:00am – 11:00am and 1:00pm – 4:30pm MDT Monday through Thursday or send us a message through our Contact Us page.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is a title required in South Dakota?

Does my watercraft need to be titled and/or registered in South Dakota?

Does my watercraft require a boat number to be displayed?

What is required for a valid purchase agreement or bill of sale?

How to fill out the Motor Vehicle and Boat Title Application

Can I get an extension on the 45-day requirement to title and register a newly purchased watercraft?

How is the 3% excise tax calculated?

I purchased a watercraft and trailer together, do I need separate bills of sale?

I received a watercraft as a gift- Do I have to pay excise tax?

I have inherited a watercraft, what do I do?

Can I title my watercraft in the name of a trust?

Can I title and register my watercraft in South Dakota if I live out of state?