Dealer Licensing in Hawaii

If you’re thinking about selling cars in the state of Hawaii, you’ll need to submit a dealer license application with the Motor Vehicle Industry Licensing Board, which operates under the HI Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ (DCCA) Professional and Vocational Licensing Division (PVL).

Keep reading to learn the steps you’ll need to take to become a licensed car dealer in The Aloha State.

Who Needs a Dealer License in HI?

Hawaii defines a dealer as anyone who:

  • Sells at least 3 vehicles (new or used) in  1 calendar year, including at car auctions.
  • Solicits, offers, or negotiates the buying, selling, or exchange of motor vehicles.

Still not sure if you fall into the dealer category? Consider giving the Motor Vehicle Industry Licensing Board a call at (808) 586-3000 for help. 

HI Car Dealer License Application

Before You Apply

PRIOR to submitting your dealer license application, make sure your proposed business location is approved with its respective county zoning ordinance.

Getting this approval is just a phone call away—ask for the planning and permit department in your business’ prospective county of operation:

  • Honolulu: (808) 768-8252.
  • Maui: (808) 270-7253.
  • Kauai: (808) 241-6677.
  • Hawaii:
    • East Hawaii: (808) 961-8288.
    • West Hawaii: (808) 327-3510.

DO NOT just assume your business complies with local zoning rules. Not being in compliance could spell out big trouble in the future.

Completing Your Application

When you are ready to apply for your license, review and complete a dealer license application packet. This packet has complete instructions on what you’ll need to submit—when in doubt, refer back to the packet.

This application takes A LOT of time, planning, and patience. If you have any questions about filling it out, don’t hesitate to call the Motor Vehicle Industry Licensing Board at (808) 586-3000 for assistance. 

Among the things to gather and submit are:

  • A completed Application for License—Motor Vehicle Dealer or Auction (Form 1016R).
  • A self-inspection report including written descriptions AND simple drawings of the premises’:
    • Measurements.
    • Location and boundaries (i.e. names of the streets containing the business).
    • Restrooms.
    • Display stalls/show room.
  • Photographs of the proposed business location including:
    • The vehicle display area(s).
    • Your office.
    • The bathrooms (pictures of the interior AND exterior).
    • The outside of the building.
    • Any other businesses you share the premises with.
  • A copy of the rental or lease agreement, if you don’t own the property.
    • The rental/lease agreement must extend for a minimum of 1 year from the date you submit your HI dealer license application.
    • The name and address on the lease/rental agreement must be the same as those on your application—if you’re under a sublease, you must provide proof the lessor authorized you to sign the rental/lease agreement.
  • A copy of proof that you have a line of credit OR surety bond:
    • UCC Financing Statement (Form UCC1) OR security agreement filed with the Bureau of Conveyances (line of credit).
    • Notarized surety agreement (surety bond).
      • Refer to the application for the minimum financial requirements.
  • A current financial statement written and signed by a licensed public or certified public accountant:
    • Individuals: A personal financial statement.
    • Partnerships: A financial statement of the partnership AND for each general partner.
  • If you’re:
    • Selling new cars—A copy of your Dealer Sales and Service Agreement.
    • Operating as a business entity—Proof of registration with the Hawaii BREG; for businesses registered:
      • 1 year or less: A file-stamped copy of your registration OR a Certificate of Qualification, issued up to 1 year ago.
      • More than 1 year: A Certificate of Good Standing from the HI BREG.
  • If applicable, a file-stamped copy of your Application for Registration of Trade Name (Form T-1).
  • All applicable dealer licensing fees.

Once you’ve gathered all the above—and made sure you meet all other requirements listed on the dealer application—deliver everything either:

  • By mail to:
    • Motor Vehicle Industry Licensing Board
    • DCCA, PVL Licensing Branch
    • P.O. Box 3469
    • Honolulu, HI 96801
  • In person to:
    • 335 Merchant St.
    • Room 301
    • Honolulu, HI 96813

All HI dealer licenses must be renewed on OR before June 30th of each even-numbered year.

Hawaii Car Dealer License Fees

In Hawaii, the fees you’ll pay to become a car dealer vary depending on the HI county of registration AND the year in which you apply.

For applications received between July 1st of an even-numbered year and June 30 of an odd-numbered year (for example, between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017):

  • Honolulu:
    • New car dealership: $1172.
    • Used car OR motorcycle/scooter dealer: $588.­
  • All other islands:
    • New car dealership: $684.
    • Used car OR motorcycle/scooter dealer: $393.
  • Car auction (all counties): $978.

For those applying between July 1 of an odd-numbered year andJune 30 of an even-numbered year (for example, between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018):

  • Honolulu:
    • New vehicle dealership: $611.
    • Used vehicles OR scooter/motorcycle dealership: $319.
  • All other HI islands:
    • New vehicle dealer: $367.
    • Used vehicles OR scooter/motorcycle dealer: $221.
  • Vehicle auctions (all counties): $514.

All fees are payable by check ONLY, made out to “Commerce and Consumer Affairs.”

DMV.ORG BBB Business Review