|South Carolina 1969 Passenger issue. Starting in 1969, all South Carolina passenger plates were issued in an AB-1234 format. The first character of the alpha prefix was a weight code for the vehicle, placing it in one of six categories (A-G). This system went back to 1921, with weight categories changed periodically over the years. This plate was issued to a vehicle in the "E" weight class, between 3501 and 4000 pounds.
|South Carolina 1970 Passenger issue. This plate commemorated the 300th anniversary of the settling of South Carolina, carrying the dates "1670" and "1970". It also used larger dies for the state name than previous issues. This plate was issued to a car in the lightest weight class, "A". This class covered all vehicles 2000 pounds or less, which seems pretty light for a car of that era.
|South Carolina 1971 Passenger issue. This is the last issue for the state to carry a weight code and the AB-1234 format. This plate was issued to a vehicle in the "D" class, 3001-3500 pounds. The other classes were:
B=2001-2500 lbs., C=2501-3000 lbs., F=4001-4500 lbs., G=4501-5000 lbs.
|South Carolina 1972 Passenger issue. This issue switched to a more standard ABC-123 format issued in order with no weight codes. I believe that different letter blocks may have been issued in different years to avoid duplication, but I haven't identified any solid patterns.
|South Carolina 1973 Passenger issue. Again, same format as the 1972 issue. My theory is that the series may have picked up where the '72 plates left off, then flipped back to the "A" series when the last of the "Z"s were issued. I've seen both low (A, B) and high (V) plates on this base, but none in the middle. That's just observation and guesswork, though, nothing official.
|South Carolina 1974 Passenger issue. Another in the same format of the previous couple years. Again, the lettering series may have continued from the end of the low-lettered 1973 issues, or I may be totally off.
|South Carolina 1975 Passenger issue. Same story as above. This was the last of the yearly issues for South Carolina.
|South Carolina 1978 Passenger issue (1976 base). This plate was issued in 1976 to commemorate the Bicentennial of the U.S. It features a palmetto tree (state tree of South Carolina) and a cannon, and also the dates "1775" and "1783", signifying the period of the Revolutionary War. This plate was used until the end of 1980.
|South Carolina 1982 Passenger issue. This graphic issue featuring the state shape and seal was issued in 1980 upon the expiration of the Bicentennial base. This plate was used through the end of 1985.
|South Carolina 1987 Passenger issue. This baseplate, again featuring a palmetto tree, was first issued in 1985 and was used through the end of 1990.
|South Carolina 1992 Passenger issue. This baseplate features a graphic of a wren, the state bird of South Carolina, at the top of the plate. It was first issued in 1990 and won the ALPCA Plate of the Year award for that year. Some residents were unhappy with the plate design, however, claiming that the drawing of the wren is not realistic. Some placed unofficial stickers with a revised drawing onto their plates. This plate was used through the end of 1998.
|South Carolina 1999 Passenger issue. The state changed over to this new graphic baseplate for all motorists starting in January, 1998. This plate features the new slogan "Smiling Faces. Beautiful Places." and marks the return of the Palmetto tree to South Carolina's plates. These plates also feature a mountain scene along the top and sides. The state switched to a 123-ABC format on these plates, reverse of the previous plates. "99" was screened on the plates as the first year of expiration, with future plates to be sticker-validated.
|South Carolina 2004 Passenger issue. South Carolina began offering this "In God We Trust" license plate as a no-cost option to registrants beginning on February 14, 2003. The plate features the flags of the United States and of South Carolina. This plate, partially due to the fact that it's the only no-fee specialty option, has quickly become the most popular optional issue in the state. Plates are issued in a 123 4AB serial format.
|South Carolina 2008 Passenger issue. In late 2007, South Carolina switched to 3M's digital (flat) plates. These plates use the same serial font seen on recent flat issues from Tennessee, loosely based on Minnesota's die set. This switch was likely made at the break between the XBK and XBL series. This style was used until the Smiling Faces base was discontinued in July, 2008.
|South Carolina 2009 Passenger issue. A new general issue was released for South Carolina starting in July, 2008. Known as the Palmetto Sunrise base, the plate features the state's signature palmetto tree/quarter moon in the center against the backdrop of an orange sunrise. The state's tourism website (travel2sc.com) is featured in place of a slogan at the bottom. This issue replaced previous standard passenger bases by the end of June, 2009.
|South Carolina 2015 Passenger issue. Continuation of the sunrise base, starting with 2015 expirations, the state redesigned the year sticker to remove the state shape and add a large dot in the top right corner. This dot was moved to the bottom right on 2016 plates, serving as a method of determining expiration at a distance in the age of perpetual black and white stickers. The system was discontined starting with 2017 expirations, as the state moved to a single-sticker system (see next.) This plate also was issued an older-style red month sticker, which was not entirely uncommon on these plates as offices ran through old and new stock.
|South Carolina 2017 Passenger issue. This issue was introduced in February, 2016, starting in the LZD series. The plate is issued to all new registrants and some, but not all, renewals, as the state seems to be embarked on a staggered replacement cycle resulting in some sunrise plates being replaced this year and others being renewed through 2017. The scaled-back, single-color graphic retains the palmetto in the center and adds the state motto "While I Breathe, I Hope" at the top. Month and year are combined on a single sticker on these plates.
|South Carolina 2017 Passenger issue. In 2016, along with releasing a new standard-issue plate, South Carolina redesigned a number of optional plates, including the no-cost In God We Trust issue. Most of these revised plates follow a similar template with a caption at top and graphic to the left of serial.
|South Carolina 2018 Passenger issue. In 2017, South Carolina became one of the first states to switch to 3M's new HD reflective sheeting, starting in the NFx series of plates. This new sheeting features a slightly raised texture to the plate surface and, in South Carolina's case, a raised security mark as well. This sheeting supposedly provides more security features and improved visibility. The design of the plate remains otherwise unchanged.
|South Carolina 2019 Passenger issue. Likewise, the no-fee optional In God We Trust plate also switched to the new sheeting in 2017, as will all other South Carolina offerings eventually as supplies of old sheeting are exhausted. Again, this design is unchanged aside from the security and reflective components of the new sheeting mentioned above.
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Last Modified 7/27/2018 (added 2018/2019 plates).