How to Get a Dealer License in Washington

October 27, 2023

Team ACV




How to Get a Dealer License in Washington

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Are you looking to open a dealership in Washington state? If so, we have compiled a list of everything you need to do to complete the dealer licensing application. It can be a long and tedious process, so it’s essential to get all the details right. Use this as your checklist and remember to check the government website for any updates or changes.  

Steps to Getting Your Washington Dealer License

1. Choose a Dealer License Type

The first step in the process in any state is to determine which license type you need to apply for. Depending on the vehicles you intend to sell, the state of Washington indicates different license classifications1:

  • Motor vehicle dealer (new or used vehicle sales): This enables you to sell either new or used vehicles to members of the public and on a wholesale basis. 
  • Motor vehicle wholesaler: engage in the wholesale trade of used vehicles to other licensed dealers  

2. Set Up a Business Location 

The application process requires the establishment of a physical business location that meets a few key requirements. 

When choosing a venue for your business, it must meet the following criteria:

  • A fully enclosed building on a commercial (not residential) property. 
  • A sign that shows the full name of your business and what you sell. 
  • A landline telephone. 
  • Be open between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M. at least five days a week with the option to add hours and days. 
  • Keep accurate and up-to-date financial records of the business.
  • Adhere to all local zoning laws. 

3. Pass the New Dealer Education Course

If you’re applying to be a first-time used car dealer,  you’ll need to attend an eight-hour training session through the Washington State Independent Auto Dealers Association

4. Get an Auto Dealer Bond 

You will have to obtain an auto dealer bond worth $30,000. Don’t worry, the price you pay will only be a fraction of that value and will be based on your individual financial circumstances, like your credit score and debt track record. If the business is owned by multiple individuals, the bond must be signed by all parties. 

5. Gather Your Paperwork  

Before you can fully complete the process and send off your application, there are a few more essential documents to collect: 

  • Property tax statement if you’ve purchased the business location, or the rental agreement that covers at least a 1-year duration. 
  • A copy of the Vehicle Dealer Manufacturer Addendum. 
  • A financial statement that indicates the funding source. For sole proprietors or partnerships, each individual needs to submit one. If you’re a corporation, LLP, or LLC, you can submit a single document outlining the assets and liabilities for the business. 
  • A criminal history statement for each owner or partner. 
  • Fingerprint cards for each owner or partner. 

6. Submit the Dealer License Application and Fees 

The application will go through the business licensing service and can be submitted either online or through the mail. There are a few types of fees to keep in mind: 

  • License fee: $975
  • Dealer plates: $43 each 
  • E-permit: $15 each
  • Business license application: $19
  • Register your business name as a trade name: $5

You can send your application to: 

State of Washington
Business Licensing Service 
PO Box 9034
Olympia, WA 98507

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

Find Used Car Inventory in Washington with ACV Auctions

When you run a dealership, inventory is everything. That’s why ACV auctions is here to help you build out your inventory once you get licensed in Washington. Our online auction platform features detailed inspection reports that can help you feel confident in your purchases, allowing you to source used car inventory from Washington and across the country. Reach out to us today to learn how we can help launch your business. 


  1. JW Surety Bonds. “Washington Auto Dealer License Guide.” Retrieved October 23, 2023. 
  2. Bryant Surety Bonds. “How to get a Washington dealer license.” Retrieved October 23, 2023.