How to get a permit to transport non-ferrous metals in SC

Scrap Metal Permit Requests

HOW TO GET A SCRAP METAL PERMIT
There are two types of Scrap Metal Permits: one for sellers and one for buyers. The information on this page is geared only toward those who wish to sell their scrap metal. Buyers, on the other hand, should read and thoroughly understand SC Code of Laws 16-17-680 (and all other applicable laws) as a matter of business.

To get a permit to transport, transfer, and sell non-ferrous metals, you must:

  • visit the Sheriff's office in the county where you reside (if you do not reside in SC, you may visit any Sheriff's office in SC to obtain a permit)
  • show a government-issued photo ID (your driver's license, identification card or military ID; those are the only three forms of ID that can be accepted)
  • show the registration card for the vehicle which you intend to use to transport the scrap metal
  • make sure that the address on your photo ID matches the address on your registration card, and
  • make sure that both addresses are within the county for that particular Sheriff's office you are visiting (again, if you do not reside in SC, you may visit any Sheriff's office in SC to obtain a permit)

Once you have obtained your permit, you are required to keep it in your possession anytime you are transporting non-ferrous metals.

Theft of non-ferrous metals (such as copper) became an epidemic in the late 00s, prompting a concerted statewide effort to curb it. The primary law that addressed the issue was written into Title 16, Chapter 17, Article 7 of the SC Code of Laws. You may view this entire law online at SCStateHouse.gov. The specifics of the law are spelled out in 16-17-680. However, there are other laws that also apply to this particular issue.

As a general rule, if you intend to transport metal (of just about any kind) to a scrapyard with the intentions of selling it, you should probably get a permit to save yourself some headaches. There are many exceptions to this rule - some of which are explained elsewhere on this page - but it's often quicker and easier to just get a permit. They're free for sellers/transporters and only nominally priced for buyers/scrapyards.

ANSWERS TO COMMON SCRAP METAL QUESTIONS

WHAT ARE 'NON-FERROUS' METALS?
The short answer is: just about anything other than aluminum cans. That's really all you need to know but - if you're interested - the law defines non-ferrous metals as "metals not containing significant quantities of iron or steel, including, but not limited to, copper wire, copper clad steel wire, copper pipe, copper bars, copper sheeting, aluminum other than aluminum cans, a product that is a mixture of aluminum and copper, catalytic converters, lead-acid batteries, steel propane gas tanks, and stainless steel beer kegs or containers." See? It's easier to remember 'just about anything other than aluminum cans.'

IF I WANT TO SELL MY CAR FOR SCRAP, DO I NEED A PERMIT?
That depends. If it's your car (you have to have the title - bearing your name - in your immediate possession to prove it) then you do not need a permit. Otherwise, you should get a permit.

IF I WANT TO SELL ALUMINUM CANS FOR SCRAP, DO I NEED A PERMIT?
No, aluminum cans are specifically excluded from the law.

HOW MUCH DO SCRAP METAL PERMITS COST?
For sellers, they're free. For buyers, they cost $200. There is a charge for replacement permits if yours is lost or stolen, too.

DO SCRAP METAL PERMITS EXPIRE?
Yes. The expiration date will be listed on your permit. They are generally good for around 2 years.

WHAT DO I DO WITH MY PERMIT ONCE I GET IT?
You must keep it in your immediate possession anytime you're transporting non-ferrous metals. Also, you must show it to the scrapyard whenever you are completing your transaction with them.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON'T GET A PERMIT?
Sellers can be fined up to $200 for a first offense. Buyers are fined much more. The penalties increase with subsequent offenses.

WHO IS EXEMPT FROM NEEDING SCRAP METAL PERMITS?
There are many exemptions. They are mainly geared toward people who - because of the nature of their work (think electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians and the like) - are required to transport non-ferrous metals. There are also exceptions for non-profit and governmental organizations. You may refer to the law for a complete list. When in doubt, however, it's usually best to try and get a permit. Once we know your specific situation, we'll let you know whether or not you are exempt.

CAN ANYBODY GET A SCRAP METAL PERMIT?
No. If you've ever been convicted of an offense involving non-ferrous metal violations, you will be ineligible to get a permit.

CAN SCRAP METAL PERMITS BE REVOKED?
Yes. If you're ever convicted of an offense involving non-ferrous metal violations, your permit can be revoked.