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  • Dealer Licensing in New York

    To sell vehicles retail or wholesale in New York, you must be registered as a dealership with the Division of Vehicle Safety Services at the New York Department of Motor Vehicles. The process of becoming an auto dealership is fairly involved, as the industry is highly regulated, but if you take it step by step you'll find it more manageable. Here's what you need to know to get started.

    First off, do you even need to register as a dealer? Obviously, you are permitted to sell a vehicle in the newspaper as a private-party transaction without a dealer license. However, you must register as a dealer if the following applies to you:

    • You bought the vehicles in order to resell them AND one of the following:
      • You display three or more vehicles for sale at one time on premises that you own or control
      • You display three or more vehicles for sale within one month at such a location
      • You sell five or more vehicles in a calendar year

    Note that the above applies to dealers of motor vehicles, motorcycles, and trailers, not mobile home trailers.

    Requirements

    If you've established that you're required to register as a dealer, the first thing to do is read the Motor Vehicle Dealers and Transporters Regulations publication from the DMV.

    You'll need to lay the groundwork for registering as a dealer by obtaining the following:

    • A Official Business Certificate of Registration from your county clerk
    • If you'll have employees, a federal employee ID number and proof of worker's compensation and disability insurance coverage
    • A sales tax number and a copy of the Certificate of Authority issued by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (assuming you will collect sales tax)
    • Proof of insurance that will cover vehicles owned or operated by the dealer and sporting dealer plates
    • A surety bond in an amount ranging from $10,000 to $50,000, depending on the type of dealership (see Original Facility Application Form VS-1 for a breakdown)
    • Franchise agreements with manufacturers of new vehicles you intend to sell (not required for selling used vehicles)
    • A Statement of Ownership or permission to use the place of business (Form VS-19)
    • A photocopy of the driver license or non-driver photo ID from the company's owner, president, or partner

    You'll need to include all items in the above list when you send in your application, along with the appropriate application and business fees. You'll also need to have the following, which will be inspected as part of the review process for your application (these are explained further in the regulations):

    • Satisfactory premises in the state of New York with proper security for business records and display space for vehicles
    • A permanent sign
    • Bills of sale and other forms dealers use (you will need to buy these from the DMV; see Dealer Forms), and a book of registry for record keeping

    How to Apply

    Start by downloading Original Facility Application (Form VS-1).

    The application fee is $37.50 and is nonrefundable. That's not the big-ticket item, however―you must also include a two-year business fee of $450 for motor vehicle dealers.

    Send your completed and signed application along with a check or money order for all the required fees (no starter checks, please) payable to the "Commissioner of Motor Vehicles" via U.S. Postal Service to:

    • Bureau of Consumer and Facility Services
    • Attention: Application Unit
    • P.O. Box 2700
    • Albany, NY 12220-0700

    If you use an express mail service, the address is:

    • Vehicle Safety
    • Application Unit
    • 6 Empire State Plaza
    • Room 220
    • Albany, NY 12228

    It typically takes a few weeks to process an application; expect a visit from a representative of the DMV to interview you and check out your place of business during this time. If your application is refused, the DMV will refund the business fees you paid once you return the refund voucher. But if you're accepted, congratulations.

    When it comes time for renewal, you may do so online.

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