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Basic Licensing Requirements of Dealers

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When is a Dealer License* Required?

“Only a Dealer or the Registered Owner (individual or business) of record shall sell or offer for sale a vehicle of a type required to be registered” (OL 11100 – 12217)

Exceptions:

  1. Anyone related by blood, adoption, or marriage to the registered owner
  2. Administrators, executors, guardians, or other persons acting under a judgment or court order
  3. Trustees of a trust in which the vehicle is registered as an asset
  4. Public Officers, in the performance of their official duties
  5. Attorneys on behalf of a client who is the registered owner
  6. Insurers selling the salvage of one of its insured’s vehicle
  7. Persons with written authorization from the owner and not receiving payment of any kind

*No Dealer License is required to sell motorized bicycles, mopeds, portable tow dollies, aircraft refueling vehicles, manufactured homes, campers with one axle, dune buggies, or sand rails.


Renewal Requirements

Access DMV website to apply for a dealer license.

The DMV has launched an online application website where Applications, Renewals, License Modifications, and payments can now be processed online. Paper forms are no longer accepted.

    Dealers must renew their license before the expiration date and complete an approved Continuing Education program of not less than four (4) hours, every two years.

    Dealers may renew an expired license only within a “30-day grace period” after their expiration and must pay a penalty equal to the original application amount. The license will be automatically canceled on the 30th day.

    Dealers should enter and upload the following online to renew their licenses:

    • Renewal Application
    • Proof of Continuing Education
    • Proof of Surety Bond ($10k or $50k as needed for your License)

    Payment of Renewal Fees: (for a two-year renewal, double the following fees.)

    • $125 Renewal Application
    • $125 Renewal of Branch Location
    • $75 Autobroker Endorsement
    • $86 For each auto Dealer Plate ($88 for Motorcycle) plus County Fees that vary depending on the county where your business is located.

    Get a Quote for your Dealer Bond

    • Retail Bond, click here
    • Wholesale Bond, click here

    Office Requirements 

    The DMV requires all dealers to have a “Place of Business” occupied continuously or at regular periods by a Dealer where the books and records pertinent to the business are kept.

    A “Wholesale” that is only involved in the sale of vehicles between licensed Dealers must also have an office, but a display area or signage is not required

    Property Use Verification

    • Although your business location must be in an area zoned for the type of business you wish to conduct, dealers are no longer required to provide “evidence” of this to the DMV.

    Your Office must:

    • Be devoted exclusively to the use of your business with entry directly from the outside
    • Have a telephone, desk, and a filing cabinet
    • Host all books and records pertinent to the business (320(b) CVC).

    Sign

    • Not less than 2 square feet and readable from at least 50 feet
    • Show the Dealer’s name and address
    • Be permanent, able to withstand weather conditions, and erected on the exterior of the office

    Display Area

    • Situated at the Place of Business
    • Marked “clearly for the exclusive use of the Dealer for display purposes only” and visible when vehicles are parked in space
    • Of sufficient size to accommodate vehicle(s) of a type for which the dealership is licensed to sell

    Notices Required To Be Posted

    Retail Dealers who display or offer vehicles for retail sale must post a notice (at least 8 inches high and 10 inches wide) in a place conspicuous to the public, which states the following:

    “THE PROSPECTIVE PURCHASER OF A VEHICLE MAY, AT HIS OR HER OWN EXPENSE AND WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE DEALER, HAVE THE VEHICLE INSPECTED BY AN INDEPENDENT THIRD PARTY EITHER ON OR OFF THESE PREMISES”

    Every Dealer must conspicuously display a notice, not less than eight inches high and 10 inches wide, in each sales office and sales cubicle of a dealer’s established place of business where written terms of specific sale or lease transactions are discussed with prospective purchasers or lessees, and in each room of a Dealer’s established place of business where the sale and lease contracts are regularly executed, which states the following:

    “THERE IS NO COOLING-OFF PERIOD UNLESS YOU OBTAIN A CONTRACT CANCELLATION OPTION


    New License Applications

    New applicants must enter and upload the following information online:

    Personal Information

    • Live Scan / Fingerprint
    • Personal History Questionnaire

    License Information

    • Main Office and Financial Institution
    • Property Information
    • Surety Bond

    Required Documents

    • CDTFA Sellers Permit
    • Appointment of Agent for Service of Process
    • Evidence of passing the DMV’s Vehicle Dealer Examination
    • Current California driver’s license or State-issued Identification
    • “Statement of Information” if applying as a Corporation or an LLC
    • A Fictitious Name Statement (if needed)
    • Photograph(s) of business location

    Required fees

    • $175 Non-Refundable Application Fee
    • $70 For each Branch Location
    • $90 For each auto Dealer Plate ($92 for Motorcycle) plus County Fees
    • $100 Autobroker Endorsement Fee (optional)
    • $1 Family Support Program Fee
    • $42 For Each Person Submitting ADM 1316 Fingerprint Card (out-of-state applications only)
    • $16 Examination (each retest will be an additional $16)