Indiana Wholesale Dealer License: How to Get your Auto Dealership Licensed

Update: The State of Indiana has confirmed that during the last legislative session, the legislators adopted a law which does away with the wholesale license by July 1, 2015. Until that time the wholesale dealer license is still required.

Auto dealers planning to open and operate a wholesale auto dealership in Indiana first need to obtain a wholesale dealer license. While obtaining a new license is not extremely difficult, it is a comprehensive process that requires providing many forms of documentation, obtaining key elements in advance and meeting strict regulations.

The Office of the Indiana Secretary of State’s Auto Dealer Services Division issues wholesale dealer licenses. The Division is responsible for receiving all completed documentation as well as keeping records of all licensed dealers in the state. They are the final stop in the application process—but there are many things that must be completed first.


Required Documentation to Obtain a Wholesale Dealer License

According to the Indiana Department of Motor Vehicles, the following documentation is required to apply for a dealer license. All items will be gathered and completed separately, with the exception of the formal application. The application should be completed last as it depends on information from other documents.

  • A completed Application for license (Form 13215)

Applicants can download the PDF fill-in version of the application here. It can also be printed and completed by hand, as well. Applicants will need to gather all of the items below before completing the application, since many items are required to complete the application fields.

  • A Registered Retail Merchant Certificate

A registered retail merchant certificate is issued by the Indiana Department of Revenue. It authorizes all merchants to collect sales tax on the sale of goods and must be displayed in the place of business. It includes issued and expiration dates and will need to be kept current. To obtain one, merchants must complete a Business Tax Application. This can be done online here. There are some requirements to prepare for in advance, the complete checklist can be found here. It includes items such as a federal identification number and a NAICS code.

  • A $25,000 surety bond

All Indiana motor vehicle dealerships must have a $25,000 surety bond in place prior to having their license applications processed and approved. This is one of the most critical components and the process for obtaining a bond should be started as early as possible. As of May 2014, the Auto Dealer Services Division also updated the surety bond form that is used to meet statutory requirements. The final form can be found here. Applicants can apply online for surety bonds as well.

  • Insurance

All applicants must provide documentation showing current, active insurance coverage to protect against liabilities. The exact specifications for liability insurance can be found here.

  • Zoning Approval

The dealer’s local zoning board, showing proof that the place of business is zoned for wholesale auto dealerships, will grant zoning approval. This part of the documentation helps prevent against misuse of dealer licenses by ensuring only real, legitimate businesses are licensed.

  • Franchise Agreement

For new license applications, a franchise agreement showing the relationship between a car manufacturer and dealer is required. This also helps limit license application approvals to only legitimate businesses.

  • Certificate of Incorporation or Certificate of Organization

The Certificate of Incorporation or Certificate of Organization that was created at the time the business was established must be included with the application.

  • Federal Tax ID Number & IRS Documentation

The Federal Tax ID number will be included on the application, but must also be accompanied by official IRS documentation. The letter issuing the FIN or subsequent correspondence including the number is sufficient documentation.

  • Social Security Numbers of all Owners and Partners

The formal application will also require the names and addresses of all owners, but social security numbers are also required to verify legitimacy.

  • National Criminal History Background Check

The background check is administered by the Indiana state police and requires an additional fee, payable by the applicant. All named parties to the applicant, including all owners and partners in the dealership, must submit to the background check. Felonies and misdemeanors may prevent issuance of a license if the background check reveals any.

Additional Requirements to Obtain an Indiana Wholesale Dealer License

The remaining requirements for becoming a licensed wholesale dealer in Indiana are aimed at ensuring only legitimate businesses receive a dealer license. State inspectors verify these items and it is important to maintain adherence to these requirements both during and after the application process. Dealers who own and operate credible establishments should have no problem meeting the following requirements:

  • Be open for at least 30 hours every week during normal business hours
  • Be well lit, with a minimum of 1,300 square feet of space, independent from other businesses
  • Have customer parking and display areas
  • Meet local zoning requirements
  • Have basic utilities and a dedicated office area
  • Have publicly visible signs identifying the business under its legal, licensed name

Wholesale dealer license applicants should have no problem meeting most of these requirements easily. For more complicated requirements, such as obtaining a surety bond for an auto dealership, contact us to apply today.