click here for the law (see Article 10, Section 56-3-1450)
YOM registration is only done at DMV headquarters in Blythewood, SC. Local offices know little, if anything, about YOM registration.
Year-of-Manufacture (YOM) plates are basically registered as vanity plates; therefore, the number must be "clear" in the DMV computer. Some prefixes are completely blocked, while others are restricted to blocks of numbers (see below for list of blocked/limited). Prefix doesn't matter, as long as the plate number is clear (i.e. trucks can use car plates and vice versa; weight class prefix issued back then doesn't matter today). You will be issued a regular registration card and expiration sticker, which you keep in the car (not required to put sticker on the plate).
call 803-896-9638 (DMV) to see if a number is clear.
Vehicle must be 30 years old.
Only single plates are required, even if pairs were originally issued (pairs issued 1921 through 1974).
SC DMV's webpage on Year-of-Manufacture:
http://www.scdmvonline.com/Vehicle-Owners/License-Plates/Antique-Plates (scroll down to "Year of Manufacture")
Something the form doesn't tell you: if you have a current registration and are within 3 months of renewal, you must pay your county tax before submitting the application (i.e. say you have a current August expiration: send your form in by at least May 15; after May 31, you must wait until you pay your August tax
Also, look at your current registration - if you are in the 2nd year of the two-year registration cycle, you must add 1/2 the registration fee
If you are registering a vehicle for the first time, I recommend getting a regular plate at a local office first, then applying for YOM plates by mail. The form asks for a current plate number. If you wish to register a YOM plate without a current registration, you must send in all paperwork (form 400/title application, tax receipt, YOM form, etc... and sometimes it is hard to get all the fees right).
* Plates with year stickers (1976+), must have the correct year displayed, matching the year on the title of the vehicle. Double check on this rule with DMV.
* Certain letter combinations are 'blocked', while some are limited because they are used on current 'specialty' plates. SCDMV removed their list from their website in June 2017, though it hadn't been updated since 2011. I have recreated this list and is quite lengthy: click HERE to view
Most common prefixes:
single letter prefix used 1921-1971
A (used for Benedict College), number must be > 6,000
B (used for The Citadel), number must be > 6,000 =>> update, Citadel plates are exceeding 7000 now, so this will be a moving target.
C (formerly used for political/boards/commissions), single "C" may be available after February 1, 2021.
D (used for SC State University), number must be > 6,000 =>> update, SC State plates are exceeding 6400 now, so this will be moving.
E (used on Wildflower specialty), number must be > 20,000
F (used for Francis Marion University), number must be > 6,000
G (used for Furman University), number must be > 6,000
two letter prefix used 1964-1971
AC (used for Anderson College specialty), number must be > 6,000
BC (used for Bus: common carrier/commercial), completely blocked
CA (used for Cattlemen's Assoc. specialty), number must be > 6,000
CB (used for Breast Cancer specialty), number must be > 6,000
GA (used for Univ. of Georgia specialty), number must be > 6,000
HA (used for Mason specialty), number must be > 6,000
many, many more on the list. click HERE to view
For plates 1972+ in the 3-letter/3-number format, you are in competition with current "Sunrise" design plates. As of Spring 2020, prefixes AAA through SZZ are blocked for YOM use - this will be a 'moving' target.
*May, 2011: motorcycles are now YOM eligible. Z-prefix numbers on a first-come/first-served basis.