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  • 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 website for auto dealers that provides information on dealer requirements.

    According to Ohio regulations, anyone who intends to be in the "business of offering for sale, displaying for sale, or selling at retail or wholesale used motor vehicles or assume to engage in that business," 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 5 vehicles, even privately, within a period of 12 months.

    Application Procedure

    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

    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) 752-7636 to receive an original card.)

    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.

    Business Site Requirements

    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 1 car.
    • Enough space under a roof to service and repair at least 1 car.
    • A permanent sign in the exact name of your business, including any registered trade names, in lettering at least 6 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.

    Site Inspection

    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.

    Fees

    • Permit - $50.
    • Initial application (Title Defect Rescission Fund) fee: $150.
    • Master plate (required) - $50.25.
    • Additional plates (each) - $10.25.
    • Postage (required if requesting plates) - $4.50.

    Additional fees may apply. Contact the Dealer Licensing Section at (614) 752-7636 for more information.

    Maintaining Your License

    Once you obtain the license, you will need to purchase a master plate and may purchase additional plates, if desired. (See "Fees" above).

    The license is valid for 2 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.

    More Resources

    For more information about dealer licensing,and help with your business, you can can call (614) 752-7636. or visit www.ohioautodealers.com.

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