How to Get a Dealer License in Wisconsin

October 27, 2023

Team ACV




How to Get a Dealer License in Wisconsin

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When you are looking to open your dealership in Wisconsin, you’ll need to start by applying for a dealer license. This process has many steps in every state, so use this as your guide when applying in Wisconsin. Remember to cross-reference these tips with any official government websites to ensure you don’t overlook updated or modified policies. 

6 Steps to Getting Your Wisconsin Dealer License

1. Choose Your Dealer License Type

Wisconsin offers two types of dealer licenses depending on the intentions you have for your business1. A retail dealer license that allows you to sell new or used vehicles to members of the public, or a wholesaler license that permits you to sell vehicles to other dealers. 

2. Buy or Rent a Permanent Business Location 

Before proceeding with the application process, you need to establish the location where you plan to conduct your business. This location must meet a handful of specific criteria. Whether you are buying or renting, ensure your location has the following qualities:

  • It must be a commercial space not located within a residence. 
  • It must contain specific office space.
  • There must be at least a 12 by 12 foot area indoors in which you can display vehicles.
  • Outside there must be a lot for cars to be on display.
  • You must get a local permit and comply with all zoning regulations.
  • There must be a sign with the name of your business as well as clearly listed hours of operation.
  • You must get the business facility statement completed.

3. Get Licensed as a Salesperson

The dealership must contain at least one licensed salesperson, whether or not that person is you, the applicant. To get licensed, you’ll have to pass a written test unless you have held this license within the past five years. 

4. Obtain an Auto Dealer Bond 

Each state requires a different bond amount; in Wisconsin it needs to be $50,000. Of course, you won’t be required to pay this full amount. The cost of the bond will be a portion of this total value and will be calculated based on your personal financial credentials like your credit score and other factors2.

5. Organize Your Paperwork  

The final step before paying and submitting is making sure you have all of your documents in order to prove all the credentials being asked of you. Here is a checklist for you to reference as you get your paperwork together:

  • Contact the Department of Revenue to obtain a sales tax number.
  • Show your written service agreement with a nearby provider or proof that you are offering service at your location.
  • Proof of zoning and permit compliance. 
  • Franchise agreement for new dealers. 

6. Finish and Submit the Dealer License Application

In Wisconsin, there is no option to submit the application online—you must mail in all of your documents. Print the Motor Vehicle Dealer Two Year License Application and fill it out twice, while sending everything else on the list (be sure to double check with the state’s Department of Transportation to ensure there have been no changes or updates). 

You can send your application to: 

Dealer & Agent Section
4902 Sheboygan Avenue, Room 201
P.O. Box 7909
Madison, WI 53707

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 Wisconsin with ACV Auctions

Once you’re licensed in Wisconsin, you’ll be eager to get your business off the ground. To do so, you’ll need trustworthy inventory that you can feel confident about. ACV Auctions offers an online auction platform with extensive information and details about each vehicle—including inspection reports completed by our team. Work with us to fill your lot with quality used cars from Wisconsin and across the country. Contact us to learn more. 


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