North Carolina Motor Vehicle Dealer License Guide

North Carolina Motor Vehicle Dealer License Guide Introduction Image

SuretyBonds.com has developed this comprehensive licensing guide to explain how to get licensed as a motor vehicle dealer in North Carolina.

Who needs a motor vehicle dealer license in North Carolina?

North Carolina requires individuals who buy, sell, or lease more than five vehicles within 12 consecutive months to be licensed. North Carolina General Statutes § 20-287 outline licensing process requirements for both new and used auto dealers. Read on for information on how to get your North Carolina motor vehicle dealer license.


How do I apply to be an auto dealer in North Carolina?

All licensed motor vehicle dealers must complete the following steps before submitting their dealer license application packet.

Step 1: Establish a sales room.
Any motor vehicle retail dealers must have an established sales room with the following specifications:

  • No less than 96 square feet of floor space
  • Must be a permanent and enclosed building disconnected from other living quarters, residence, or businesses
  • Must have an independent entrance
  • Sales room must display a sign no less than three inches tall showing the business’s trade name in block letters
  • Must comply with applicable zoning ordinances 

Wholesale dealers must also have an established office with the same specifications listed above that is additionally accessible to personnel from the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles and keeps all relevant books, records and files. 

Step 2: Purchase a surety bond.
The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles requires a $50,000 motor vehicle dealer bond for the original salesroom location and a $25,000 surety bond for each additional location. 

You can submit a North Carolina auto dealer bond application online 24/7. Once you’ve paid your invoice, you’ll receive your official digital bond documents via email. You’ll then file your official bond documentation as part of your full license application packet.

Step 3: Purchase liability insurance.
State statute requires liability insurance be provided to ensure all insured motor vehicles can display a dealer license plate. You can visit the North Carolina DMV Insurance Liability Help Page for more information.

Step 4: Have the dealership inspected.
Each dealership must be approved by an inspector from the district/county that the dealer plans to work in. The inspector’s report must be attached to the completed dealer license application. A list of districts and inspector numbers can be found in the new dealer packet.

Step 5: Submit articles of incorporation.
Any dealership structured as a corporation must submit articles of incorporation with the North Carolina Secretary of State. You can find business registration information here. Include the first page of the corporate charter with your dealer application.

Step 6: Complete a licensing course approved by the North Carolina DMV. (used dealers only)
Used vehicle dealers applying for initial licensing must complete a 12-hour course. Dealers must file for their licenses within 12 months of applying for certification. If renewing an existing license, dealers must complete a 6-hour course.

Step 7: Complete application.
Fill out the application for a new dealer license or to make changes to existing licensing. Assumed name (the name you work under) should be filed with the county’s Register of Deeds where the business operates. All owners, partners, or officers of the corporation must sign the application.

Step 8: Mail application materials.
Send your completed application, surety bond form, application for sales representative, and all other forms specified in the new dealer packet to:
N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles
Vehicle Services – Dealer Unit
3129 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27697-3129

The dealer application and sales representative license  must be notarized. Local notaries can be found on the Secretary of State’s notary search page.

Why does the Division of Motor Vehicles require surety bonds for auto dealers?

To ensure they will comply with all laws pertaining to auto dealers, North Carolina requires auto dealers to be bonded. If a bonded dealer license holder fails to comply with the terms of the auto dealer bond, they’ll be held liable for damages paid by the surety as a result of filed claims. 

How much does it cost to get a North Carolina Auto Dealer License?

Different dealer license certifications cost different amounts. Auto dealers can be expected to pay the following applicable fees:

  • $97 for a dealer license certificate
  • $140.25 for a factory branch license certificate
  • $210.25 for a manufacture license certificate
  • $21.50 for each sales representative application
  • $25 for a set of 25 temporary markers
  • $19.50 for each dealer transporter plate
  • $38.75 for the first five dealer plates and $19.50 for each additional plate after that


How do I renew my North Carolina vehicle dealer license?

To renew your license, complete the dealer renewal packet which includes the renewal application for dealer license and plates, dealer and transporter plates, sales representative license, and affidavit forms. Along with the renewal forms, submit the garage liability insurance policy number and underwriter’s name, proof of completion of an approved 6-hour course, and all renewal fees outlined in the renewal packet.

According to North Carolina General Statute § 20-294, auto dealer licenses are valid for up to one year unless suspended, revoked, or expired. A dealer license can be suspended or revoked if the licensee meets any specification listed in § 20-294 such as defrauding a buyer, falsely advertising used vehicles as new, or intentionally providing invalid certificate of titles.

If a vehicle dealer license renewal application is not submitted within one month of expiration, it will be considered a “failure to renew.” and the licensee will be required to apply again as a new applicant. Note that bonds for North Carolina dealers must also be renewed as a part of the licensing renewal process..

How do I get a surety bond for a dealership in North Carolina?

If you’re a North Carolina vehicle dealer looking for a surety bond provider, you can submit an online application 24/7 or call 1 (800) 308-4358 to speak with a surety bond expert about your free, no-obligation quote.

Sign Up for Surety News!