All automobile dealers in Florida—whether selling new, used, or auctioned vehicles—are required to get a car dealer license through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). While there are several types of Florida dealer licenses available, the five primary licenses that car auctioneers and auto auction bidders need to be concerned with are:
- Vehicle Auction Dealer (VA): the main license that every car auction dealer needs—whether you need another license on top of this will depend on your planned operations. A VA license allows the licensee to sell motor vehicles and recreational vehicles at auction exclusively to other licensed motor vehicle dealers. Those that want to also sell or auction motor vehicles at retail to the general public need to apply to be a Vehicle Independent Dealer (VI).
- Vehicle Independent Dealer (VI): to sell used motor vehicles to the general public. This is required to bid and buy at motor vehicle auctions that aren’t open to the public.
- Vehicle Wholesale Dealer (VW): to buy, sell or deal in motor vehicles only at wholesale with other licensed dealers. This designation also allows the licensee to buy through motor vehicle auctions.
- Recreational Used Motor Vehicle Dealer License (RU): to buy and sell used recreational vehicles, including buying recreational vehicles at auction.
- Mobile Home Dealer (DH): to buy or sell mobile homes, including buying mobile homes at auction.
Additional Florida dealer licenses available include Vehicle Franchised Dealer License (new car dealers), Service Facility License (car repair operations), Salvage Dealer License (salvaged or wrecked motor vehicles). While these are generally not required for most car auction businesses, they can be applied for in succession with the other licenses listed above. Which additional type of license you need—if any—will heavily depend on the services your motor vehicle dealer business plans to offer.
To find out how to apply for a Florida car auction license, see our step-by-step breakdown below. We cover everything from car auction licensing requirements to the application process so you can get your new career on the road.
Who Needs a Florida Car Auction License?
In the State of Florida, any individual or business that offers motor vehicles, recreational vehicles, or motorhomes for sale through a bidding process needs a car auction license—specifically a Vehicle Auction Dealer License (VA). This license grants permission to sell to other licensed vehicle dealers. Those selling or auctioning cars to the general public also need an Independent Dealer License (VI).
Florida Auto Auction Licensing Requirements
Dealer Training Course Certificate of Completion
All auto dealer and auto auction license applicants are required to take a pre-licensing dealer training course. It is one of the main Florida dealer license application requirements. The course covers types of dealer licenses, the application process, sales, laws, and more. A few things to note about this course:
- It must be administered through a Florida Dealer Training School approved by the FLHSMV.
- Runtime is 16 hours.
- It is available both online and in-person.
- Pricing varies, around $100 - $300.
You will be issued a certificate of completion once you pass the DMV exam that follows the course.
Steps to Get a Car Auction License in Florida
Step 1: Obtain an FEIN and Sales Tax Number
- Apply for a Federal Employee Identification Number (FEIN) through the Internal Revenue System (IRS).
- Apply for a sales tax number through the Florida Department of Revenue.
Step 2: Find a Permanent Business Location
Licensing applicants must have a business location that meets specific requirements. This location must:
- Not be part of any residence.
- Be a permanent structure in a licensed location.
- Be clearly separated from any other business in the structure.
- Have adequate space to keep all files and records.
Other requirements also apply. See the Florida Administrative Code 15C-7.003 for detailed information.
Important: Once you have your business location, you need to find your nearest Motorist Services Regional Office. A compliance examiner from this office will visit your place of business to ensure all it meets all requirements.
Step 3: Get Fingerprinted
Find a LiveScan fingerprinting service approved by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). After being electronically fingerprinted, you will receive a receipt—a copy of this receipt is needed for your application.
Step 4: Secure an Auto Auction Surety Bond
All licensed Florida car dealers must secure an auto dealer bond in the amount of $25,000. This bond protects the public (reimburses them financially) in the event that a dealer causes damages by partaking in unethical activity or unlawful conduct that goes against Florida statutes.
Visit our Surety Bond 101 Guides for more information.
How much does a Florida auto dealer bond cost?
A Florida auto dealer bond needs to be in the amount of $25,000. However, the bond applicant only pays a small fraction of the total bond amount—1- 5 percent ($250 -$1,250), provided they have good credit. Note that it is still possible to secure this bond with bad credit, but the premium will be higher.
Step 5: Get Insured
You must obtain one of the following insurances:
- Garage Liability Insurance Policy: a minimum of $25,000 combined single-limit liability coverage including bodily injury and property damage protection and $10,000 personal injury protection.
- General Liability Insurance Policy: must be coupled with a business automobile policy with a minimum $25,000 combined single-limit liability coverage including bodily injury and property damage protection and $10,000 personal injury.
Step 6: Gather the Required Documents & Information
At this step, you are ready to dive into the FL dealer license application forms (HSMV 86056). To successfully complete them, you will need:
- A copy of your dealer training course certificate
- A copy of proof of identity (passport, driver’s license, etc.)
- Your sales tax number
- Your FEIN
- Fictitious business name registration (if applicable)
- Business name registered with the Secretary of State’s office (for LLC/LLP/LLLP and Corporations)
- Proof of ownership or lease of business location
- A copy of the receipt for your electronic fingerprints
- A $25,000 surety bond, Form HSMV 86020
- Your insurance certificate
- Copy of certification from the Division of Corporations showing you are registered to conduct business in Florida
- Partnership Agreement (for Partnerships)
- Articles of Incorporation (for Corporations or Incorporation)
- Articles of Organization and Operating Agreement (for LLCs)
- A $300 check payable to DHSMV to cover the application fee
All completed applications should be submitted to the regional office responsible for your dealership. If approved, it will take approximately a month to get your license by mail.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a Car Auction License in Florida?
The base cost to get a Florida car auction license is $300 (application cost). However, there are other costs to consider which include:
$100 - $300 - Pre-licensing course
$54.25 - Fingerprinting
$250 -$1,250 - Car dealer bond
Other variable costs include insurance, business registration, and business location.
Can You Buy Cars at Florida Auctions Without a License?
Whether or not an individual needs a dealer license to buy a car at auction depends on the type of auction. While anyone can purchase vehicles at Florida auto auctions that are open to the public, other auctions are exclusive to dealers and require bidders to hold a valid dealer license.
How Long Does It Take to Obtain a Car Auction License in Florida?
You can get a Florida car auction license in 2 - 3 months. The training course only takes 16 hours to complete, so most of the license waiting time is for various applications processing.
How to Renew Your Car Auction License in Florida?
Auction dealer licenses, like all other Florida auto dealer licenses, expire annually on the 30th of April. To renew your license, you will need to take an 8-hour continuing education course and submit a $75 renewal fee.