Both a professional bondsman and a surety bondsman are required to complete specific steps as to become licensed in the State of South Carolina (both of which are referred to as a bail bondsman for purposes of this report):
|Meet Base Requirements in South Carolina|
|South Carolina Pre-Licensing Education|
|South Carolina Bail Bondsman Exam|
|Apply for your South Carolina License|
|Renewing your South Carolina License|
The South Carolina Department of Insurance licenses three different types of bondsmen in the State:
- Professional Bondsman
- Surety Bondsman
- Runner Bondsman (bounty hunters)
A professional bondsman in South Carolina may write up to four times the amount of collateral pledged by the county clerk of court, while a surety bondsman pledges a power of attorney that is issued by an insurance company. You may be both a surety bondsman and a professional bondsman in South Carolina; however, if you want to become a surety bondsman, you must first obtain a producer license and receive an appointment from a licensed insurance carrier.
Step 1. Meet Minimum Requirements in South Carolina
To become licensed as a bail bondsman in South Carolina, you must be at least 18 years old and have no felony convictions within the last 10 years.
Step 2. Complete Approved South Carolina Pre-Licensing Education
The South Carolina Insurance Department requires all bail bondsmen to first complete an approved course of study through one of their approved educational providers. The course of study must total at least 20 hours of professional bondsmen and at least 60 hours for surety bondsmen. The coursework covered in an approved course is designed to prepare you to complete the license examination.
Upon completion of the approved education, you will need to ask the education provider to complete a Certification of Completion, which you will need to include with your application for licensure.
It is important to note that many individuals who pursue jobs as bail bondsmen also seek education through an associate’s or bachelor’s program in criminal justice or a related field. These types of programs are designed to prepare individuals to excel in their professions and prepare them to pursue similar professions in criminal justice or law enforcement.
Step 3. Take the South Carolina Bail Bondsman Examination
Regardless of whether you are pursuing a license as a surety bondsman or a professional bondsman, all bail bondsmen in the State must take the Professional Bail Bondsman examination, which is handled by PSI.
You can view the Professional Bail Bondsman exam Content Outline to get a better idea of what to expect on the exam. The parts of the examination are as follows:
- Insurance Regulation: 10 percent
- Legal Framework: 29 percent
- Bail Bond Principles and Practices: 61 percent
You can schedule your examination on PSI’s website or by calling them at 1-800-733-9267. You must pay a $45 examination fee to take this computer-based exam. The time limit for the exam is 60 minutes. There is a number of PSI testing centers located across the State, including: Columbia, Charleston, Greenville/Spartanburg, and Beaufort/Hilton Head.
Step 4. Apply for a South Carolina License as a Bail Bondsman
You can apply for licensure upon passing the examination. Although you do not have to apply for licensure immediately, you must apply within 12 months or else you will need to test again.
To apply to become a licensed bail bondsman (professional or surety), you must complete the Professional Bondsman application online and provide the Department of Insurance with the following:
- A license fee of $400 for a professional bondsman or $40 for a surety bondsman (made payable to the South Carolina Department of Insurance)
- A passport-sized photograph
- The Certificate of Completion from your pre-licensing bail bond education
- The original exam report from PSI (You can obtain this by calling PSI at 1-800-733-9267)
- Two fingerprint cards that are completed in full an certified by a law enforcement officer
- Proof of your net worth (a current bank statement or certificate of deposit)
Step 5. Maintain your South Carolina Bail Bondsman License
Whether you are a professional bondsman or a surety bondsman, you must pay the clerk of court in your home county $150 annually for your bail bondsman license. If you work in any other county, you must pay the clerk of court in that county $100 annually, as well.
Further, you must maintain your bail bondsman license in South Carolina by completing at least 6 hours of continuing education each year. You must document your continuing education through the South Carolina Department of Insurance.
All licenses expire on June 30 each year and must be renewed online. You can view a renewal demonstration to help you complete the online renewal process. The cost of renewal for a professional bondsman in South Carolina is $400. There is no cost of renewal for a surety bail bondsman.