The North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles – Dealer Unit updated their NC DMV Minimum Dealer License Requirements form in May 2024.

Here are the five steps you need to follow to get a car dealer license in North Carolina:
1. Find a location
2. Take the 12-hour pre-licensing course
3. Get bonded and insured
4. Register the business
5. Pass a criminal background check

1. Find a Location

If you want to sell cars to the public, You need an established salesroom with at least 96 square feet of floor space in a permanent, enclosed building, separate from any living quarters or other businesses. This location must have a separate entrance and comply with all State, County, and Municipal zoning ordinances or regulations.

The established salesroom and/or office must be inspected and approved by an agent of the License and Theft Bureau before the license is issued. This ensures that your business location meets all the necessary standards and requirements.

But when selecting a retail location, ensure it is easily accessible to the public and visible from the road. Consider the local competition and choose a site that will attract customers. Google the address and see if you need to mark any old business as ‘closed’ It’s also helpful to consult with local zoning authorities early to ensure your site meets all regulatory requirements.

2. Take the 12-Hour Pre-Licensing Course

It is mandatory that all prospective dealers take a two-day, 12-hour class learning the Do’s and Don’ts of the business. You can find dates and locations for North Carolina classes here:

Enroll in the course as early in the process as possible to help you avoid possible mistakes in the dealer application process. Make sure to keep a copy of your completion certificate as it will be required for your license application.

3. Get Bonded and Insured

Let’s face it, you’re not just selling socks. You must furnish a corporate surety bond of $50,000 for one established salesroom and $25,000 for each additional salesroom. Additionally, you need a comprehensive liability insurance policy or Garage Coverage Form to cover your dealer plates.

4. Register your Business

You need to be “official.” This means you need a current business license from the state and local municipality saying you can do business at your physical location. You also need to come up with a great Dealership name!! Once you have one google it and make sure it’s not too similar to any local competitors!

Use online services like Legal Zoom to streamline the registration process. Verify all paperwork is correctly filed and keep copies of all submissions. Contact local zoning offices to preemptively handle any potential issues that might arise with your business location.

5. Pass a Criminal Background Check

A criminal background check is required to ensure you meet the standards for operating a dealership. This step is crucial for maintaining the integrity and trustworthiness of the dealership industry.

Now You’re Ready!

Submit Application and Fees
Complete and submit the required forms (e.g., LT-400, LT-409, LT-426) along with the application fee. Ensure all documentation is accurate, legible, and includes all necessary supporting documents.

Double-check all forms for accuracy before submission to avoid delays. Use a checklist to ensure you include all required documents.

Now wait for the approval then head off to Raleigh to get your Official North Carolina Dealers License!

Need more info?
Check out our NC Dealer’s Corner for more details!

DID YOU KNOW? There are approximately 7,900 licensed automobile dealers and 44,000 sales reps in the state of North Carolina as of 2023!


How much does it cost to get your dealer’s license?

The NC Dealer License itself costs $115.50, but based on the requirements above there are many more additional expenses: Obtaining a bond, registering your business, taking the PLE class, signing a lease on an office, etc.

How much is it to get your Wholesale License?

In North Carolina, it’s the same, $115.50, to get your wholesale dealer’s license.

What paperwork is required in order to apply for my auto dealer license?

  • LT-400 (Notarized)
  • LT-409 (Notarized)
  • LT-426 (Notarized)
  • 12 Hour Continuing education certificate dated within the past 12 months
  • Zoning approval letter
  • Garage liability insurance certificate or declaration page
  • If Corporation/LLC, copies of your meeting minutes and Secretary of State filing

What other types of dealer licenses are available in North Carolina?

North Carolina offers several types of dealer licenses, including new vehicle dealer, used vehicle dealer, wholesaler, and motorcycle dealer licenses.

What is the purpose of the dealer education course?

The dealer education course ensures that applicants are knowledgeable about state laws, regulations, and best practices related to vehicle sales. Completion of this course is mandatory for new applicants.

How long is the dealer license valid?

Dealer licenses in North Carolina are typically valid for one year and must be renewed annually.

What are the penalties for operating without a valid dealer license?

Operating without a valid dealer license can result in fines, legal action, and the suspension or revocation of the ability to conduct vehicle sales in North Carolina.

What are the continuing education requirements for maintaining a dealer license in North Carolina?

All applicants for a used motor vehicle dealer’s license must complete a 12-hour pre-licensing course within the last twelve months when seeking an initial license. For license renewals, a 6-hour continuing education course approved by the Division is required, unless exempt. Exemptions include used motor vehicle dealers who meet specific educational requirements or individuals aged 62 or older as of July 1, 2002, seeking a license renewal.

Where can I find more info?

Always check the NCDOT website for the latest information. Here are some helpful links: