Dealer Licensing in Ohio
The requirements for obtaining your dealer license in Ohio vary according to what you are intending to sell. The state has different requirements for dealers of new, used, and all-purpose vehicles, as well as motorcycles.
We'll take a look at the requirements for a new car dealer. But, if you are interested in selling other types of vehicles, the state provides a comprehensive listing of requirements for whatever permit you need, including the following:
According to Ohio regulations, anyone who intends to be in the "business of offering for sale, displaying for sale, or selling motor vehicles at retail," must obtain a dealer permit. The permit for a new motor vehicle dealer also allows the dealer to sell used cars on an "incidental" basis.
Even if you don't intend to be in the motor vehicle business, you will have to obtain a dealer's license if you sell more than five vehicles, even privately, within a 12-month period.
- Complete and notarize the Application to Deal in Motor Vehicles.
- Include a financial statement proving a net worth of at least $10,000.
- Include photographs of the lot, sign, and office at the business location.
- Complete the Statement of Manufacturer/Distributor Franchise. This form must be completed by you and the manufacturer of the vehicles you will sell.
Note: A great resource when applying for your license is the Motor Vehicle Dealer Licensing Information and Instructions, prepared by the BMV. It offers a checklist of needed documents, along with explanations of each, and an explanation of where your fee money goes, among other things.
Send your completed application and other paperwork to:
- Dealer and Salesperson Licensing Unit
- P.O. Box 16521
- Columbus, OH 43216-6521
You can also bring it in personally to a local deputy registrar's branch.
Background Check & Fingerprinting
As part of your application, you'll need to submit to a background check and fingerprinting procedure. To do this, visit your local law enforcement office to complete a fingerprint card. (The online sample is for informational purposes only―call the Dealer Licensing Section at (614) 752-7634 to receive an original card.)
The processing fee is $15, and the card will be sent to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation & Identification for a statewide record check.
You may also go to one of the BMV Regional Service Centers to have your fingerprints scanned. Or, go to a private facility participating in the state WebCheck program. Find more information about WebCheck and statewide addresses for participating locations on the state Attorney General's website. The fees for this will vary according to which facility you choose.
The BMV is interested in various aspects of your business location because the site must comply with commercial and retail regulations. Your proposed business site must include the following features:
- Enough space under a roof for at least one car
- Enough space under a roof to service and repair at least one car
- A permanent sign in the exact name of your business, including any registered trade names, in lettering at least six inches high
- The site must be used exclusively for selling, displaying for sale, or dealing in motor vehicles
Download the printable checklist that contains these requirements.
A mandatory inspection of your site will be conducted by a BMV investigator to ensure that the location meets all of the physical requirements.
If you are granted a license, your dealership (and even your records) will be subject to random inspections to make sure it continues to comply with state requirements.
- Permit - $50
- Dealer handbook - $5
- Background check (each) - $15
- Master plate (required) - $50.25
- Additional plates (each) - $10.25
- Postage - $2.75
Once you obtain the license, you will need to purchase at least one dealer plate.
The license is valid for two years.
Reasons for Denial
You may be denied a dealer license if you have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor related to dealing in motor vehicles. Also, once you obtain your license, it can be suspended or revoked for criminal actions as well as administrative violations.
For more information about dealer licensing, you can contact the following offices:
- BMV Customer Service Center (West)
- 1970 West Broad St.
- Columbus, Ohio 43223-1101
- BMV Customer Service Center (East)
- 1583 Alum Creek Drive
- Columbus, Ohio 43209
You can also call (614) 752-7634.
Also, visit www.ohioautodealers.com for further information about your business as a dealer.
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