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How To Get Your NC Dealer License

Step-by-step guide with helpful links to assist you in getting your North Carolina used car dealer license.

What are the North Carolina motor vehicle minimum dealer license requirements?

Are you interested in becoming a licensed car dealer in the state of North Carolina?  The NC DOT - DMV provides a great checklist of what is required...the only problem is it's just a checklist!

KGI has been working side by side with used car dealers for almost two decades.  If you are just looking for the State's checklist we've linked it below.  But if you want some great inside knowledge, links, and resources to help you through this, that's what we're here for!

Obtaining your Auto Dealer License

A step-by-step summary.  Scroll down for detailed information.
  1. Have an "established salesroom" (Retail) or "established office" (Wholesale).
  2. Salesroom and Office must be in compliance with state and local zoning rules.
  3. Have a sign designating the name of the business.
  4. Furnish a corporate surety bond ($50,000)
  5. File business name with Register of Deeds in the NC county where the business is maintained.
  1. If the business is a corporation, articles of incorporation must have been filed with the NC Secretary of State.
  2. Have a comprehensive liability insurance company policy or Garage Coverage policy to cover dealer plates.
  3. Dealer application must accurately describe the physical location of the business, not a PO Box.
  4. Applicants for a dealer's license must complete an approved 12 hour pre-licensing course.
  5. Prior to submitting your paperwork the salesroom must be inspected by an agent at the License and Theft Bureau.

1.  Dealership Physical Location Requirements

  • Have an Established Salesroom 
    You must have a 96 square feet (or larger) of floor space in a permanent, enclosed building, or separate and apart from any living quarters, residence, or other business.  It must also have a separate entrance.
  • Zoning Requirements
    Your dealership office/building must meet all state, county, and municipal ordinances and regulations.  TIP:  If you are unsure about your location contact the DMV officer assigned to your area to preapprove the space before you sign a lease.
  • Dealership Sign
    You must have a dealership sign with block letters at least three inches in height.  BUT YOU WILL WANT BIGGER!!

Step-By-Step Guide

2.  Attend a 12 Hour Pre-Licensing Course

  • In order to get your dealer license you must show proof that within the last twelve (12) months you have completed a twelve hour licensing class that is approved by the DMV.
  • We HIGHLY recommend you take the NC Dealer Class early in the process.  It is through this class you will learn each step in this process along with many other Do's and Don'ts on laws and regulations when it comes to selling cars in North Carolina.

Where to take your NC PLE Dealer Class:

Kat Messenger
Carolina Dealer Training

3.  Bond and Insurance

  • Corporate Surety Bond 
    You must furnish a corporate surety bond or a cash bond in the amount of $50,000 and $25,000 for each additional salesroom.
  • Liability Insurance 
    You must have a comprehensive liability insurance company policy or Garage Coverage Form - Automobile Dealer Supplementary policy number or binder number from the insurance company to cover dealer plates.  (Learn about the rules of driving on a dealer place at your PLE class)

Where to get a Bond and Insurance:

Carl Mischinski
The Pentagon Group

IGO Insurance


If you need help through the entire process you can use an online resource such as Legal Zoom to do it all for you.

Price:  $99-$199 package  (ends up about $400 all said and done)
Website:  Click Here

Do It Yourself

Business Link North Carolina (BLNC) is a free service for anyone seeking to start a small business in North Carolina.  Get 1 on 1 phone consultations to help navigate the headaches of starting a business.

Price:  FREE!  (An NC business license still cost around ~ $125)
Website:  edpnc.com/start-a-business


4.  Business Registration and Licenses

  • Register You Business
    The DMV must have evidence of an assumed name being filed with the Register of Deeds in the county in NC of your business.
  • Article of Incorporation
    If your business will be a Corp. you must attach the first page of the corporate charter to your dealer license application.

Need help?
North Carolina provides some great resources

  1. Choose a Business Structure
  2. Choose a Name
  3. Register Your Business
Getting NC dealers license

5.  Criminal Background Requirements

  • Background Check 
    You must agree to have a criminal background check.
  • Previous Offenses 
    • Have you been convicted of an offense set forth under NCGS 20-106, 20-106.1, 20-107, or 20-112 in the past 5 years?
    • Have you been convicted of a crime that could possibly be related to holding a sales representative license?  Or violent or sexual in nature?
    • Have you previously been denied or had your dealers license revoked?

Frequently Asked Questions

A dealer license is required if you take part in selling more than 5 motor vehicles in a 12 month period.  OR if you attempt to arrange the sale of / negotiate on behalf of / or exchange 5 or more motor vehicles in a 12 month period.

A Wholesale dealer license is limited to selling vehicles only to other licensed car dealers.  You may not sell to the public.  A wholesale license does not require an established salesroom, meaning one open to the public with a separate entrance from another business.  You can simply have an office within an office building.


A Retail license allows you to sell to the public and to other licensed dealers.  Retail dealers must have established salesrooms.  Read section 1 above, Dealership Physical Location Requirements, for more details.

This is covered in your 12 hour Pre-Licensing training class.  You will need to take the class for specific examples but only official dealership business can be done on a dealer tag.  Your wife/husband/kids can not just drive around on your dealer tags.

See NC PLE Class Schedule

Need more info?  Here are more Internet resources for becoming an NC Used Car Dealer:

PLE NC Dealer Classes, North Carolina news and law updates, and more.
N.C. Department of Transportation's resource site for car dealers.
NC Title Manual