Dealer Licensing in Utah
Becoming an automobile dealer in Utah is a serious undertaking that requires a fair amount of preparation and responsibility. To sell cars as a business in Utah, you need a dealer's license.
Licenses are issued by the Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division (MVED) of the Utah State Tax Commission. The MVED regulates auto dealerships and salespeople; it also investigates fraud. There are three types of dealer licenses: new vehicles, used vehicles, and motorcycles or small trailers.
The following should be submitted to the MVED (details are provided farther down this page):
- Photograph of sign and principle place of business
- Photographs of owners, partners, or corporate officers
- Fingerprints of owners, partners, or corporate officers
- Proof of valid sales tax license
- Certificate of training
Submit your paperwork to:
- Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division
- 210 North 1950 West
- Salt Lake City, UT 84130
Between five and 10 working days after the application is received by the MVED, the MVED will conduct an onsite inspection of your place of business. Only after the inspection will the MVED issue a license.
There are a number of requirements for becoming an automobile dealer in Utah, even if your business is small. The paperwork must all be correctly filled out or your application will be delayed or rejected, so the MVED has created a set of "how to" instructions for properly completing your application.
Principle place of business: Unfortunately, the empty lot next door doesn't qualify as an appropriate site for an auto dealership. You must have a location in Utah devoted solely to selling cars, and this site must be zoned for motor vehicle sales. It must have display space for at least three vehicles and have a building for the office, which is where you're required to keep all your books and business records for the dealership.
Business name: File the name of your dealership (the trade name) at the following location:
- Department of Commerce
- 160 E. 300 S.
- Salt Lake City, UT 84111
- (801) 530-4849
Sign: You know it's a real business when you have a sign. In fact, you're required by law to have one, and it has to have an area of at least 24 square feet. The sign can be painted or posted on the dealership office building itself or mounted on permanent posts on the front of the site. The sign must include both the full, licensed name of the dealership and the dealer number. You will need to provide a photograph of the dealership and the sign to the MVED along with your application forms and fees.
Bond: You must file a corporate surety dealer bond with the MVED. The amount of the bond varies depending on the type of dealer license you are applying for. For new or used motor vehicle or large trailer dealers, the bond is $50,000. For motorcycle or small trailer dealers, the bond is $10,000. A trailer that weighs 750-2,199 pounds (unladen) is considered a small trailer.
Fees: When you apply for your dealer license with the MVED, you'll need to pay fees according to the type of dealer license you are getting:
- New motor vehicle dealer: $127
- Used motor vehicle dealer: $127
- Motorcycle or small trailer dealer: $51
- Dealer plates (optional; see "Dealer plates," below): $12 each
- Fingerprints (see below): $15 each
Application form: You must complete the Bonded Motor Vehicle Business Application form, or Form TC-301. This form must be signed and notarized before you submit it to the MVED.
Photographs and fingerprints: You will need to provide a photograph of the dealership and its sign to the MVED. In addition, you must include passport-type photographs and fingerprints of your company's owners, partners, and corporate officers. Each person should provide a standard FBI Fingerprint Card and Fingerprint Waiver, filled out and verified by your local law enforcement agency. Please include $15 with your application for each person providing fingerprints.
Training: The Utah MVED requires that applicants for a dealer's license, whether for new or used cars, attend an eight-hour orientation course. Everyone listed as an owner, partner, or corporate officer must attend the course. If you'd like to do your training online, the Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division offers a Web-based training course for $100. Alternatively, you can get a list of companies that offer orientation courses by calling the MVED at (801) 297-2600.
After you've gotten your dealer's license, you are required to take a three-hour training class every year in order to renew it. MVED offers this class online for $30. This will ensure that you are up-to-date on new rules and regulations.
If you're getting a license to sell only motorcycles or small trailers, you've got it a little easier―you don't need to attend any orientation or training courses to either obtain or renew your dealer's license.
Sales tax license: Since you'll be selling cars, you'll be charging sales tax―so before you can get a dealer's license, you need a sales tax license that authorizes you to collect tax from your buyers. The MVED can help you get forms (or you can download the Utah State Business and Tax Registration form) and file for your sales tax license, but because business taxes are so complex, the agency steers clear of giving tax advice. For that, you should get in touch with the Sales Tax Division of the Utah State Tax Commission at (801) 297-2200.
Buyer financing: If your dealership will finance its sales or arrange financing for buyers, it must register with:
- Department of Financial Institutions
- 324 S. State, Suite 201
- Salt Lake City, UT 84111
- (801) 538-8830
Franchises: Dealers selling new cars should submit with their application a letter from the automobile manufacturer itself certifying that they are authorized to sell certain makes and models.
The MVED provides answers to frequently asked questions about franchises on its website.
Dealer plates: When you're in the business of selling cars, you will sometimes need to transport an unlicensed automobile to your dealership from where you bought or consigned it. Other times, you'll need to send a potential customer for a test drive in an unlicensed vehicle you are trying to sell. The way to do this legally is to mount dealer license plates on the vehicle before it is taken on public roads.
Your dealership will be allocated two dealer plates at first, but you can obtain an additional plate for every 25 cars you sell. To get dealer plates, fill out and notarize the Application for Special Plates and Decals. Dealer plates are $12 each. While you don't need to apply for plates at the same time you apply for your license, doing so later might cost you four to six weeks of additional processing time.
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