Dealer-related Information in South Carolina

Here you'll find some of the most frequently asked questions about becoming a dealer in South Carolina that may not be thoroughly covered in the rest of our Dealers and Auto Industry sections.

Do I need training to become a dealer?

Yes. South Carolina requires all prospective car dealers to attend pre-licensing course lasting 8 hours before they apply for their dealer license. For your convenience, the Carolina Independent Automobile Dealers Association (CIADA) offers this course year-round throughout the state.

When, and how, do I renew my dealer license?

You'll need to renew your dealer license each year with the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You'll complete the same Application for a Dealer or Wholesaler License (Form DLA-1) you submitted to obtain your original license, but you'll check the renewal box located at the top of the application.

You'll also need to submit a Certification of Vehicles Sold by Dealer (Form DLA-1C), so keep a copy of this in your records and update regularly.

If there have been any changes in your business status―change of ownership, name or address, or if your license has expired past 90 days―you will need to schedule another appointment to have your business inspected before your renewal license can be issued.

How do I obtain dealer license plates?

After you have received your dealership license, you can purchase dealer tags from the DMV. Each dealer plate is $20 and expires when your dealer license expires.

To be eligible for the dealer plates, you must sell a minimum of 20 vehicles in the 12 months before you apply for dealer plates. For the first 20 vehicles you sell, you are allowed to purchase 2 dealer tags; for each additional 15 vehicles you sell, you can purchase 1 dealer tag.

If you loan a vehicle to a school for a driver's education program, the $20 plate fee will be waived. When the car is no longer being used for educational purposes, you must return the tag to the DMV.

What happens if I act as a dealer or wholesaler without first obtaining my license?

Acting as a dealer or wholesaler without a license is a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $1,000 and a prison sentence of up to 2 years.

Where can I find more information about becoming a dealer in South Carolina?

The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) provides several ways to contact them with dealer questions. You may contact your nearest Dealer Central location or you can ask questions about licensing and applications by calling the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles Dealer Licensing and Audit Unit at (803) 896-2611.

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