How to Get a Car Dealer License in North Carolina

August 29, 2023

Team ACV




How to Get a Car Dealer License in North Carolina

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Opening a dealership can be a strong and successful business plan—but there are some steps you’ll need to follow to ensure you’ve dotted your I’s and crossed your T’s Getting a dealer’s license is an essential first step. If you’re in North Carolina, this process is not overly complex, but it is detailed. In this article, we’ll outline the steps you need to follow to obtain your license and start building  your business. 

10 Steps to Getting Your North Carolina Dealer License 

1. Determine which kind of license you will need 

In the state of North Carolina, there are three different license types, so the first step is figuring out which one matches your plans: 

  • New motor vehicle license: To sell new and used vehicles.
  • Used motor vehicle license: To sell only used vehicles.
  • Wholesaler License: Gives you the ability to sell used vehicles to car dealerships 

2. Attend Pre-Licensing Courses

If you’re looking to sell used cars, you first have to complete the proper dealer course and submit your original certificate as proof. The course is only 12 hours, and you must complete it no more than 12 months before getting your license. We recommend taking it with the Carolinas Independent Auto Dealers Association. Once you’re licensed, renewing is much easier, and you’ll only need to take a 6-hour course in subsequent instances. 

3. Secure a Business Location 

Your business location has to have several features, including: 

  • An established retail sales room with 96+ square feet of floor space, unattached to any other type of building (residential, separate businesses, etc.)
  • A sign that clearly shows the name of the business (must be 3 inches tall or bigger). 
  • Holds all of the business’s books, paperwork, files, and articles. 

4. Get liability insurance 

You’ll need to be able to provide your policy number with a plan that covers your dealer plates. 

5. Get an Auto Dealer Surety Bond 

Secure a corporate surety bond or a cash bond worth $50,000 for the sales room. 

6. Adhere to All County Register of Deeds Naming & Licensing Requirements 

Provide proof that you filed an assumed name with the Register of Deeds in your business county, unless you are operating under the same name that will be on your dealer’s license. 

7. File for a type of business  

File the articles of authorization for your relevant business type, whether it’s an LLC, LLP, corporation, etc. If your business is a corporation, you will need to follow some additional steps. First, you’ll need a trader’s license, which you can obtain from the business licensing agency in the county where your dealership will be located. You’ll also need the first page of the corporate charter from the NC Secretary of the State and to disclose if any of the business owners have a history of any stolen vehicle offenses. 

As an owner of a dealership, you will then be responsible for the sales representatives you hire and have to pay a fee for each representative’s application. The fee is $20, and you act as their endorsement. 

8. Arrange for a Business Site Inspection

Get in touch with the License and Theft Bureau office in your town or county to schedule an inspection of your physical location. You can find a list of inspectors local to you by checking the North Carolina DMV form LT-415. The inspector will review the premises to ensure you pass all safety and security requirements.

9. Arrange for a Background Screening 

Use the North Carolina state-approved website S2Verify to get a background check. This has to be completed within 90 days of your application submission—anything older than 90 days will be rejected, and you’ll need to re-submit. 

10. Submit Your Application 

After completing the above steps, it’s finally time to hand in your dealership application. To review, make sure you include all of the essential items, and feel free to reference this checklist: 

Record of inspection for your business location

  • Completed application for the New Dealer License (DMV Form LT-400)
  • First page of the corporate charter (if applying as a corporation)
  • Comprehensive liability insurance policy number
  • Evidence of filing with the Register of Deeds
  • Education certificate for the dealer education course 
  • Link to the North Carolina background screening 

Your application package must also include the required fees: 

  • $90 dealer license
  • $36 per dealer plate for the first five plates, subsequent plates are $18 each

You can mail all of your documents to:

North Carolina Department of Transportation

Division of Motor Vehicles

License and Theft Bureau Dealer Unit

3129 Mail Service Center

Raleigh, NC 27699

This is not intended as legal advice. If you have questions about dealer licensing requirements, please seek the assistance of legal counsel.

Become an ACV Auctions member when you get your North Carolina Dealer License

Once you’ve obtained your dealer license, ACV Auctions can help you source used car inventory in North Carolina. We are an online auction, which means we have inventory from all over, so once you are registered, sign up with ACV. There are no membership fees, and our transparent vehicle condition reports give dealers everything they need to know to bid confidently on inventory.


  1. Wayne Reaves. “North Carolina Auto Dealer License: Step-by-Step Guide.” Retrieved August 18, 2023. 
  2. JW Surety Bonds. “How to Get a North Carolina Auto Dealer License.” Retrieved August 18, 2023. 
  3. Dealer License Training. “North Carolina Dealer License.” Retrieved August 18, 2023.