How to Get a North Carolina Auto Dealer License

You need to get a North Carolina auto dealer license if in a 12-month period you buy, sell (or attempt to sell), display, or exchange at least 5 motor vehicles in your name. Additionally, you may not sell any cars that aren’t registered under your name without a dealer license. Dealer licensing is handled by the License and Theft Bureau in the Division of Motor Vehicles of the Department of Transportation (NCDOT).

Here is a summary of what you need to get a car dealer license in North Carolina.

How to get your Auto Dealer License

Complete Guide for All 50 States


Determine Which Type of License You Need

  • New Motor Vehicle Dealer License: Allows you to sell new and used vehicles
  • Used Motor Vehicle Dealer: Allows you to sell only used vehicles
  • Wholesaler License: Allows you to distribute/sell used vehicles to car dealers
  • Distributor License: Allows you to distribute/sell new vehicles to new car dealers
  • Manufacturer License: Required for those that assemble/manufacture vehicles or import new motor vehicles through a distributor with the intent to further distribute

Note: Dealer license requirements vary depending on which type you need, and this guide is mainly for new and used car dealers. You can find more information about the different types of dealer licenses in the regulation manual or by contracting The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles Dealer Unit (DMV) at (919) 715-7000.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Dealers License in NC?

Once your auto dealer application is complete and submitted, it takes approximately 1 – 2 weeks to process. The dealer application is available online.


Obtain a Permanent Business Location

The location must have the following requirements:

  • An established salesroom with at least 96 sq ft of floor space (excluding wholesalers)
  • For wholesalers only: An established office with at least 96 sq ft of floor space. When based in a residential building, it must be separate from any living quarters with a separate entrance.
  • A sign that has letters of at least three inches in height
  • Space to securely store business records and files.

Note: Make sure the established office and/or salesroom are in compliance with all state, county and municipal zoning regulations and ordinances.


Attend a Pre-Licensing Course (Used Motor Vehicle Dealers Only)

Used motor vehicle dealers must complete a 12-hour licensing course approved by the DMV before applying for their license. This course must be completed within the 12-month period before your application date.

Further information on approved dealer education courses is available from NCDOT Dealership Resources.


Obtain Liability Insurance

Comprehensive liability insurance covering your dealer plates is required. Your provider and policy number must be included on your application.


Get Your Auto Dealer Bond

The cost of a North Carolina auto dealer bond is a small percentage of the total bond amount. The bond cost varies depending on your financial strength, e.g. personal credit. You can also take a look at our most frequently asked surety bond questions.

  • Fill out our online application form to obtain a free bond quote for your auto dealer license. It takes 5 minutes and you will be able to lock your rate for the next 90 days (in case you want to purchase the bond).

Bond Amount Required:

  • $50,000 for one established salesroom
  • $25,000 for any additional salesrooms
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Compile the Required Documents

  • If the business will operate under any name different from the owners: An assumed business name must be filed with the Register of Deeds in the county where the business is maintained
  • If the business will operate as a corporation: You need to file articles of incorporation with the North Carolina Secretary of State
  • A Trader’s License from the municipality and county must be obtained before filing your application

Arrange for a Business Location Inspection

All dealerships must be inspected and approved by an agent of the License and Theft Bureau before your application is submitted.


Submit Your North Carolina Auto Dealer License Application

After your business location is approved, send your completed application with the required documents and fees to:

North Carolina Department of Transportation
Division of Motor Vehicles
3129 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699

How Much Does a North Carolina Auto Dealer License Cost?

The cost for a NC dealer license will vary on a case-to-case basis, but here are some base fees to consider.

  • $90.00 for a dealer license certificate
  • $38.75 per plate for the first five dealer license plates
  • $19.50 per plate for additional plates
  • $19.50 per dealer transporter plate
  • $25.00 for 25 temporary markers
  • $325 Dealer Licensing Class
  • Approx. $500 - $1500 for an auto dealer bond *

*Licensing bond cost will vary depending on personal credit, assets, and finances. Get a free bond quote today.

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