Customers walking around a vehicle dealership that has a Texas Auto Dealer License

How to get a Texas Auto Dealer License

This Texas auto dealer license guide is for informational purposes only. does not regulate or manage licensing for auto dealers in Texas. Contact the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles for the state's latest official auto dealer license requirements. 

Texas Statutes Occupations Code Chapter 2301 defines dealer as "a person who holds a general distinguishing number issued by the board under Chapter 503 Transportation Code" and defines dealership as "the physical premises and business facilities on which a franchised dealer operates the dealer's business, including the sale and repair of motor vehicles."

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles requires an auto dealer license for all individuals who plan on buying, selling, or exchanging cars or otherwise engaging in business as a dealer — directly or indirectly, including by consignment. Once your Texas auto dealer license has been issued, you'll receive a general distinguishing number (GDN), which is a basic dealer license that allows you to buy, sell, or exchange vehicles for your license type.

Complete the steps below to apply for your Texas auto dealer license with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

How to get a Texas Auto Dealer License

How do I get an auto dealer license in Texas?

1. Establish your dealership's physical business location. 

Your auto dealership's physical location must meet several standards. It can't be located at a residence, apartment, house, hotel, or rooming house and must have an office with at least 2 chairs, a desk, internet access, and a phone with a listed number. Your dealership's display area must have room to display at least 5 vehicles. 

2. Register your Texas DMV eLicensing account.

You'll complete all applications, renewals, and amendments for your auto dealer license through the online eLicensing provider. You can create an account online through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and request more information by picking up a physical copy of the eLicensing registration manual at your local Texas DMV. 

You must create an organization account for your dealership and at least 1 user account to be used as the eLicensing administrator. 

3. Provide the information required for your Texas auto dealer license application.

Once you've registered your eLicensing account, select apply for a new license in the dropdown menu. You'll need to provide the following dealership information.

  • assumed name (DBA)
  • address and physical location
  • address and contact information for any supplemental locations
  • Employee Identification Number (EIN)
  • all owner and general partner information
  • if applicable, previous auto dealer license information
  • if business structure is LP, LLP, LLC, or corporation, legal business details of your dealership
  • if business structure is public or owned by another corporate entity, management information
  • if applicable, all criminal history information
  • if applicable, military service information

Section 3.2 of the Texas DMV Motor Vehicle Dealer Manual can help you apply for the correct Texas GDN. If you'd like more than one type of GDN, you'll need to submit a separate application for each type.

4. Upload all supporting documents.

Depending on your dealership status, you might need to upload the following supporting documents. 

  • Assumed Name Certificate: If your dealership is operating under a different entity than the one that holds the license, you must submit a copy of your Assumed Name Certificate, which is available through your local county clerk’s office for sole proprietorships and general partnerships.
  • Certificate of Incorporation: If your dealership is owned by anyone other than the sole proprietor or general partnership, you must upload a copy of your Certificate of Incorporation that's been filed with the Secretary of State. 
  • Criminal Court Papers: If you have previous criminal history, you must submit scanned court documents with details on your offense and adjunction. 

5. Purchase your Texas motor vehicle dealer surety bond.

Texas Transportation Code Section 503.003 requires motor vehicle dealers and wholesale motor vehicle auction dealers purchase a $50,000 surety bond to be filed with the DMV when applying for their general distinguishing number.

You can apply for your Texas motor vehicle dealer bond online 24/7 with premiums starting at $375 for the state-required 2-year term. You'll receive your official Texas auto dealer surety bond by email once your order has been processed.

6. Submit your Texas auto dealer license application and pay your licensing fees. 

Once you've filled out your application in its entirety, uploaded all supporting documents, and purchased your $50,000 surety bond, you can submit your Texas auto dealer license application.

Each independent license you apply for costs $700, and you must also purchase dealer plates/stickers that cost $90. You can pay your license fee online by credit card or eCheck.

The Texas DMV will email you your general distinguishing number (GDN) once your license has been issued. Your Texas auto dealer license and GDN will be valid for 2 years. 

How do I renew my Texas auto dealer license?

You can renew your Texas auto dealer license through the same eLicensing portal you used for your initial license. You must submit your renewal application, $400 renewal fee, and all required supporting documents at least 45 days before your license expires. A 50% application fee penalty will be applied for each 30-day period your license remains expired. If you don't submit a renewal application within 90 days of your license expiration date, you must apply for a new license.

Last Updated: October 19, 2023

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