How to get an Illinois Auto Dealer License

This Illinois auto dealer licensing guide is for informational purposes only. does not regulate or manage licensing for auto dealers in Illinois. Contact the Illinois Secretary of State for the latest official auto dealer license requirements.

The Illinois Secretary of State defines auto dealer as “any person engaged in the business of selling or dealing in, on consignment or otherwise, 5 or more vehicles during the year, or who acts as an intermediary, agent or broker for any licensed dealer or vehicle purchaser, or who represents or advertises that he/she is engaged in or intends to engage in such a business." If this definition applies to you, you must be licensed as an auto dealer with the Illinois Secretary of State before selling used vehicles in the state. You'll need to complete the steps below to apply for your Illinois auto dealer license.

How to get an Illinois Auto Dealer License

How do I get an auto dealer license in Illinois? 

1.  Register your business. 

Before applying with the Illinois Secretary of State, you'll need to register your dealership with the Illinois Department of Revenue and get a statement of approval. You'll also need to prove your dealership is in good standing with the Department of Business Services. You can purchase a Certificate of Good Standing for $25 online. You'll also need to provide a list of all corporate officers, directors, and shareholders with at least 10% ownership.

Note that your dealership cannot, under any circumstances, be located in a residency.

2. Purchase liability insurance.

You'll need to purchase liability insurance for your dealership and provide proof that you've done so in the form of a certificate of insurance. Your liability insurance can't expire before December 31st of the year from which your motor vehicle dealer license was issued. The minimum coverage amounts required are as follows. 

  • $50,000 for property damage
  • $100,000 for bodily injury
  • $300,000 for each bodily injury accident

3. Purchase and file your Illinois auto dealer surety bond. 

You'll need to purchase and file a $50,000 auto dealer bond and submit it with your auto dealer license application to comply with Illinois Vehicle Code Article 1. Although the state's official name for this bond requirement is the "Designated Agent Bond for Illinois Vehicle Dealers," it's also called the "Illinois auto dealer bond." This bond provides financial protection to the state and your customers if you fail to follow Illinois Vehicle Code laws that regulate your dealership in the state's auto industry. 

You can apply for your Illinois auto dealer bond online 24/7. Annual costs for the Illinois auto dealer bond start at $410 and are provided after a quick application review.

You must file your original physical designated agent surety bond as the state will not accept copies or digital documents. You'll need to maintain your bond on file with the state for the first 60 months your dealership operates. 

4. Complete an auto dealer training course.

If this is your first time getting licensed as an auto dealer in Illinois, you'll need to complete an 8-hour training course. The Illinois SOS offers the dealer training course twice a month in Chicago and Springfield at no charge. You can register online. 

If you're just attending the class for training purposes, you'll need to submit a letter signed by your dealership licensee on your company's letterhead to verify you're only attending for training purposes. Otherwise, you must mail the following to the Vehicle Services Department 1 week before your class begins or you won't be allowed to attend.

  • Copy of your dealer license application form
  • If your class starts before June 15th, $1,000 check or money order
  • If your class starts after June 15th, $500 check or money order

Vehicle Services Department
Dealer License Training
501 S. 2nd St.
Rm. 069

Springfield, IL 62756

You'll need to provide a receipt that shows you completed the training program with your Illinois auto dealer license application. 

5. Complete a criminal background check. 

To complete your criminal background check, contact the Illinois State Police Bureau of Investigations at 1(815)740-5160 for a list of approved Live Scan fingerprint vendors. Once you've undergone your background check, you'll need to provide your completion receipt with your application materials. 

6. Gather all required documents. 

You'll need to submit the following documents with your Illinois auto dealer license application packet.

  • Illinois Dealer License Application
  • $50,000 Illinois motor vehicle dealer bond
  • Certificate of liability insurance
  • Criminal background check approval
  • Auto dealer training course completion
  • Proper zoning form, unless your dealership is located in Chicago
  • If property is leased: dealership lease copy
  • If selling new vehicles: copy of the franchise agreement from the vehicle manufacturer
  • If selling vehicles at an additional location: supplemental certificate of authority
  • If repair shop: proof that you have (or have applied for) a hazardous waste generator number (issued by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency)

7 . Establish a physical business location.

Before applying for licensure, you'll need to establish a place of business where all records and vehicles will be located. Your dealership location must have the following requirements.

  • Office space with current dealership books and records
  • Telephone landline registered to your business
  • Working electrical lights
  • Dealership name displayed on the building or front door
  • Operating hours open a minimum of 4 consecutive hours for 5 days each week
  • Sign that displays the dealership's operating hours
  • Display lot showcasing new and/or used vehicles in different sections
  • Permanently affixed sign displaying your dealership name that's visible from the closest public road
  • If dealership is open after sunset: proper lot illumination

8. Submit your Illinois motor vehicle dealer license application and pay fees. 

Once you've completed all steps above, you can submit your motor vehicle dealer license application. Mail all documents and fees to the Secretary of State Vehicle Services Department. Payment is accepted in the form of check or money order.

Chicago Office

Secretary of State Vehicle Services Department
17 N. State St.
Rm. 1100
Chicago, IL 60602

Springfield Office

Secretary of State Vehicle Services Department
Michael J. Howlett Bldg.
501 S. 2nd St.
Rm. 312
Springfield, IL 62756

New License Fee TypeFee Amount
Certificate of Authority application fee (if applying before June 15th)$1,000
Certificate of Authority application fee (if applying after June 15th)$500
Dealer plates, master set$45
Dealer plates, duplicate set(s)$13 per set

9. Pass your dealership establishment inspection.

After you've submitted your application and required fees, a representative from the Illinois Secretary of State office will contact you to schedule an inspection to ensure your dealership establishment meets all minimum requirements. Once you've passed your inspection, you'll be granted your Illinois motor vehicle dealer license. 

Note the state can take 2-4 weeks to review your inspection before issuing your Illinois motor vehicle dealer license.

How do I renew my Illinois auto dealer license?

Your Illinois motor vehicle dealer license expires annually on December 31st regardless of its issuance date. The state will send you expiration notices in September to remind you to renew your license. You can renew your Illinois auto dealer license online or by mail. 

Your renewal application must be notarized. Your liability insurance must expire on December 31st of your license renewal year or be indicated as "continuous until cancelled." 

To renew your license by mail, send your renewal application, fees, and all required materials to the same address you mailed your original license application. If anything has changed, contact the Secretary of State for further instructions.

Renewal License Fee TypeFee Amount
Certificate of Authority renewal fee$1,000
Master dealer plates$45
Duplicate dealer plates$13 per plate
UDL Certificate of Authority$50

Last Updated: August 28, 2023

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