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Soda Citizen 101: our guide to becoming a Columbia resident

Becoming a new resident is easy with these tips.


The Columbia skyline | Photo by COLAtoday team

Table of Contents

Picture this: You just moved to Cola and you need some help with the practicalities of life (we can’t just walk the riverwalk all day). That’s where we come in. Keep reading for Soda Citizen 101, our guide to all things Columbia residency.


Register your classic car at the SCDMV. | Photo by COLAtoday

The essentials

Voter registration

Make sure you’re eligible and registered to vote, find your polling location, and preview upcoming elections and sample ballots here.

Driver’s licenses and vehicle registration

New residents in need of a South Carolina driver’s license will need to provide proof of legal status, a Social Security document, and two documents confirming your residential address.

To register your car in the state of South Carolina, you’ll need to bring proof of State car insurance, proof of your identity (in the form of a driver’s license, passport, or ID card), and complete these forms Title Application (SCDMV Form 400) and the Statement of Vehicle Operation in South Carolina (SCDMV Form TI-006) and return them to any SCDMV office.

Initial registrations may be subject to a $25 fee.

Find a DMV near you to obtain a State driver’s license. Registration for your vehicle is conducted on a walk-in basis.


Establishing yourself with a primary care provider is one of those things you’ll be glad you did when you need one. Reach out to the professionals at Lexington Medical Center or Prisma Health to name a few. Pro tip: Websites like DocSpot filter physicians by location, patient reviews, insurance, language, and more.

Dreher High School

Dreher High School is ranked No. 7 in SC’s high schools. | Photo via Dreher High School

Educational needs

School registration

Prepare your student for the school year by registering them with Richland or Lexington County Public Schools. Here, you’ll find your school zone (based on your home address), a list of registration and immunization requirements, and the student entry form. With your required documents in hand, you’ll then make an appointment at your student’s zoned school to complete the registration process.

For information on Cola’s private schools, check out our Columbia area schools list.

Library card registration

If you think libraries are only for renting the occasional book, think again. Register for a library card at your nearest Richland Library branch, or apply for a temporary card (valid for 30 days) online, to take advantage of:

  • Genealogy services
  • Events
  • eBooks, music, and movies
  • Online databases
  • Private meeting spaces for groups
  • The creators work shop
  • Seed library
  • Library of Things

To get your card, you’ll need proof of identity and proof of address. Columbians of any age can apply for a free card to be used at any Richland Library branch. Nonresident cards can be purchased for $65 per year.

Home necessities


Thanks for thinking green. For everything you need to know about recycling in Columbia, from where to place your bin to pickup times and accepted materials, check out this guide.


Moving is exciting, but no one wants to unpack by candlelight. Establish your services with Dominion Energy by creating an account or updating your address in your existing account. Pro tip: You can complete a free virtual home energy chat with Blue Horizons Project to learn how you can save money and energy every month.

Internet providers

No connectivity issues here. Check out some of the internet providers in the Midlands:


The ultimate Cola initiation

Having a State driver’s license and a 803 area code may qualify you on paper, but you’re not officially a Soda Citizen until you’ve taken part in some local fun that is only found in Cola.

Outdoor fun

With access to three rivers and Congaree National Park, Columbia has no shortage of spots to soak up the famously hot sun. Renting a kayak or a donut and floating down the Saluda and through the spot where they all meet is on our bucket list of things to do as a Soda Citizen.

Beverage hoppin’

If you enjoy local brews, you’re in luck. The Midlands is home to 15+ breweries, with a few new ones on the horizon. Beyond the brews, these spaces have become central to Columbia’s social scene, with venues featuring an increased amount of live music, food options, weekly trivia, and hosting charitable events.


As one of the first planned cities in the United States, Columbia has a rich history that is well preserved by Historic Columbia. We’ve collaborated with the historical group over the years to bring you the history of Cola’s first planned suburb, the history of Columbia’s tallest buildings, and even how locals beat the famously hot summer heat in the 1950s.

Is there something you’re still left wondering about to get you properly established in Cola? Ask us your question and we’ll do our best to answer it for you, like a good neighbor.

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