1 (800) 308-4358

Mon-Fri 7am-7pm CST

Customers walking at a dealership with a North Carolina Motor Vehicle Dealer License

How to get a North Carolina Motor Vehicle Dealer License

This North Carolina motor vehicle dealer license guide is for informational purposes only. SuretyBonds.com does not regulate or manage licensing for vehicle dealers in North Carolina. Contact the North Carolina Department of Transportation Division of Motor Vehicles for the state's the latest official vehicle dealer license requirements.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation requires individuals be licensed as a motor vehicle dealer if they sell or exchange 5 or more motor vehicles within any 12 consecutive months. The North Carolina motor vehicle dealer license allows individuals and businesses to sell vehicles in their dealership space once they've fulfilled all licensing requirements, which includes the purchase of a surety bond.  

Complete the steps below to apply for your North Carolina motor vehicle dealer license.

How to get a North Carolina Motor Vehicle Dealer License

How do I get a motor vehicle dealer license in North Carolina?

Step 1. Establish your dealership space.

Your dealership location must meet certain requirements enforced by the Department of Transportation. Requirements for retail and wholesale dealerships vary, but both spaces must contain at least 96 square feet of permanent, enclosed floor space and comply with all county zoning regulations. The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles Motor Vehicle Dealer and Manufacturer Regulation Manual details state requirements for your dealership space.

If your dealership operates as a retail store, your salesroom must be separate from any residences and have its own designated entrance. If your dealership operates as a wholesale store, your office space must be accessible to Division Personnel. All files, paperwork, and documentation must be stored within your dealership's designated office space. 

Regardless of the type of dealership you operate, it must have a sign that displays your company's trade name in block letters. The letters on your sign must be at least 3 inches tall on a contrasting background. 

Step 2. Purchase liability insurance. 

You must provide one of the following forms of insurance with your application packet.

  • Comprehensive liability insurance company policy OR
  • Garage coverage form-automobile dealer supplementary schedule policy number OR
  • Binder number from the insurance company to cover dealer plates

Step 3. Gather additional supporting documents. 

You'll need to provide additional application documents that vary based on the characteristics of your dealership. 

  • Corporation: Provide the first page of the corporate charter you get when filing articles of incorporation with the North Carolina Secretary of State. Corporations must also have a copy of the meeting minutes and Secretary of State filing.
  • Foreign Corporation: Provide your certificate of authority from the North Carolina Secretary of State. 
  • Franchise: Provide a copy of your franchise agreement.
  • Out-of-State Manufacturer: Provide proof of your National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) registration.
  • DBA/Trade Name: Dealerships that operate under any name other than the owner or corporate name must file with the Register of Deeds in your dealership county. The name you file with the Register must appear on your motor vehicle dealer license certificate.
  • Zoning letter

Step 4. Get your dealership inspected. 

An agent from the North Carolina License and Theft Bureau must inspect your dealership space to ensure it complies with all regulations listed in step 1. If your dealership passes the inspection, you'll receive a record of inspection form that you must include in your application packet. 

Step 5. Fulfill the education requirements. 

If your dealership sells used motor vehicles, you must take an educational course approved by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. The initial license requires a 12-hour course while the renewal license requires a 6-hour course. You must include your certificate of course completion with your application.

If you're 62 or older and are renewing an individual or partnership dealer license, you don't have to take any educational courses. 

Step 6. Purchase your North Carolina motor vehicle dealer surety bond. 

Original dealership locations must file a $50,000 North Carolina motor vehicle dealer surety bond, and each additional location must file a $25,000 surety bond. This bond ensures your dealership complies with North Carolina General Statutes and provides financial protection from fraud committed by your dealership or its sales representatives. 

North Carolina motor vehicle dealer bonds require a quick application review to determine pricing. Premiums for an original location start at $250 annually, and premiums for each subsequent location start at $150 annually. You can apply for your North Carolina motor vehicle dealer bond online 24/7

Step 7. Submit your North Carolina motor vehicle dealer license application. 

You'll need to fill out your New Dealer Packet and mail it to the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicle Services along with the following documents.

  • Proof of inspection report
  • Proof of liability insurance
  • North Carolina motor vehicle dealer surety bond 
  • Required corporation documents (if applicable)
  • Required franchise documents (if applicable)
  • Continuing education certificate (if applicable)
  • Certificate of authority (if applicable)
  • Out-of-state manufacturer documents (if applicable)

NCDMV Vehicle Services
Dealer Unit
3129 Mail Service Center

Raleigh, NC 27697-3129

You must pay the following fees when filing your application. Your North Carolina motor vehicle dealer license will be issued once the state has reviewed and approved your complete application packet and processed all required fee payments.

Fee TypeAmount
Motor vehicle dealer license certificate$97.00
Factory branch license certificate$140.25
Manufacturer license certificate$210.25
Sales representative$21.50
Dealer plates$19.50 per plate
Temporary markers$25.00 per set of 5

The North Carolina DMV offers additional motor vehicle dealership resources.

Last Updated: August 17, 2023

Call 1 (800) 308-4358 to talk with a Surety Expert