How to Get a Dealer License in South Carolina

September 19, 2023

Team ACV




How to Get a Dealer License in South Carolina

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Before opening your dealership in South Carolina, you must get a license through the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. This process has several steps, and you need to have factors like your business location and a background check in place before submitting your application. To help you ensure a smooth process, we have compiled a guide explaining each step of the application process. Read along to find out what you need to do to get your dealership up and running in South Carolina. 

Getting your South Carolina dealer license 

1. Decide Which License Type You Need

In South Carolina, all dealer applications are managed by the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV). Depending on which type of dealership business you plan to open, you will need a different kind of license. Here are the options1

  • Motor vehicle dealer license (this includes used vehicles)
  • Motor vehicle wholesaler license 
  • Motorcycle dealer license 

There are also  different types of licenses to cover recreational vehicles, like trailers and campers. 

2. Register Your Business

Before proceeding with any further steps, you initially need to register a business entity within your county. You will need proof of  this step when submitting your completed application. In addition, you need to register for a Federal Employer Identification Number with the IRS. 

3. Establish a Location for the Business

In South Carolina, you must obtain a location for your business that meets a list of criteria to open and operate. When looking around for a place to open, make sure you check all these boxes: 

  • The location must be a permanent enclosed structure. 
  • It must contain an office room of 96 sq. ft. at least. 
  • There must be a permanent sign with letters that are at least 6 inches high. 
  • The property must contain a lot with enough space to display motor vehicles.  

When you submit your application, you must include a diagram of the physical business location, so make sure all the requirements are met. You will also need to request a pre-inspection of your location, where a certified individual will come to ensure all regulations are met. 

4. Attend the Mandatory Training Program

Unless you are applying to be an official franchisee, you must attend an eight-hour course through either the Carolinas Independent Auto Dealers Association (CIADA).

5. Obtain Proof of Insurance, Bonding, and Retail Licensing

You’ll need garage liability insurance to get dealer plates, and you will need to submit proof of this insurance when you apply for your license. 

For a motor vehicle dealer, you need an auto bond worth $30,000. The price you pay will be a fraction of this, and the cost will be contingent on personal factors (like your credit score)2

The South Carolina Department of Revenue also requires everyone with a business to get a retail license before selling products. This will also require you to get a sales tax number with the state. 

6. Complete a Background Check

In order to open the business, anyone with 10% or more ownership will have to show their SLED criminal history report. The report must be no more than 90 days old when submitted. You can get this done through the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

Anyone with a record involving motor vehicle titles, tampering with vehicle numbers, or altering an odometer may be denied a license. 

7. Complete an Affidavit of Eligibility

You must be physically present in the apply for a license. To prove this is the case, you must fill out the Affidavit of Eligibility. 

8. Submit the Application and Pay Required Fees

In South Carolina, the application fee is $50, and each dealer plate is $20.

You can send your application to: 

South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles
Dealer Licensing and Audit Unit
PO Box 1498
Blythewood, SC 29016-0023

9. Schedule a Dealership Inspection 

Once you submit your application, the DMV will get in touch to schedule an inspection of your business. This will be the final step in the process of obtaining your dealership license. 

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

Build Your Inventory ACV Auctions 

We are an online auction platform that enables used car dealers to obtain the inventory they’re looking for. Once you get your dealer license in South Carolina, reach out to our team to get started so you can fill your lot with the used cars you need. Register with us today. 


  1. Risk Strategies Bryant Surety Bonds. South Carolina Auto Dealers License Guide. Retrieved September 12, 2023, from 
  2. Risk Strategies Bryant Surety Bonds. South Carolina Auto Dealers License Guide [2023]. Retrieved September 12, 2023, from