Dealer Licensing in New Hampshire

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Nearly every community has a motor vehicle dealer selling cars, trucks, off-highway recreational vehicles (OHRVs), snowmobiles, or motor homes. The roadways of New Hampshire are filled with commuting workers, college students, and families who all buy vehicles at one time or another. In New Hampshire, dealers must be licensed by the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

As a licensed dealer, the State of New Hampshire will issue you special dealer license plates to drive vehicles on the road. You will also be expected to submit a title application form when selling a vehicle. The rules are the same for new and used dealers.

There are many different kinds and sizes of vehicle dealers in New Hampshire. Because licensing requirements are slightly different depending on what kind of dealer you are, you will need to specify which dealer license you are applying for:

  • Transporter
  • Automotive Recycling
  • Repairer
  • Retail Vehicle
  • Utility
  • Wholesale

If you are in retail, repair, or wholesale it is pretty obvious which license you should apply for. The State of New Hampshire also licenses dealers who transport vehicles for reconditioning, repossession, or exchange. An automotive recycling dealer could be involved in transporting vehicles but from seller to buyer for recycling purposes. A utility dealer deals in special equipment like cement mixers, boat trailers, and garbage trucks.


The state will accept your application and begin the process of licensing you by conducting an investigation of your dealership. The inspector will be from the Bureau of Registration.

The application fee is $125 for all dealership types. To apply you must complete the Application for Retail Dealer License and Registration (form RDMV 735)

For application forms, you can to visit or mail DMV Headquarters, specifically the Dealer Desk:

  • Department of Safety
  • New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles
  • 33 Hazen Drive
  • Concord, NH 03305

Becoming a licensed dealer is a process that takes some time and you will benefit by asking questions and getting a copy of the dealer rules from the DMV. If you have specific questions you can call the Dealer Desk at (603) 227-4120.

Requirements for Retail and Wholesale Vehicle Dealers

In addition to the application, there are other requirements for retail and wholesale dealers. The requirements for licensing are more involved than the other kinds of dealer licensing because the responsibility is serious.

Retail dealers and wholesale dealers must post a surety bond for $25,000. Shop around and consider joining the New Hampshire Automobile Dealers Association (NHADA) to find the best buys on surety bonds.

Along with the application and surety bond, these specific dealers must include a financial statement, trade name, a list of motor vehicle makes and styles (if they are selling new vehicles), and the name with the address of any manufacturer associated with the dealer. Finally, the state requires a criminal record check and a statement from you regarding any civil lawsuits involving the motor vehicle business.

Again, it will take some time to go through the application process so if you don't have all the paperwork together at one time, you can send in the application and what you do have. The Dealer Desk will notify you of the missing items and wait for you to get them in before proceeding. Your relationship with the Dealer Desk will be an ongoing one so you will want to keep the communication lines open.

License Renewal

Your dealer license must be renewed every year. The renewal date is set by the Director of Motor Vehicles and is usually related to when your license was issued. Your renewal fee depends on the type of dealer license you have; specific information about your fee can be obtained from the Dealer Desk.

Dealer License Plates and Dealer Registration

If you want to have dealer license plates, which are a major benefit of being a licensed motor vehicle dealer, you will have to apply for dealer registration. As a repair shop, used auto dealer, new dealer, wholesaler, utility dealer, or transporter you will need dealer license plates to drive vehicles on the road.

Before issuing you dealer license plates, the state will perform a site review. Your town planning board will probably want to review your site plan too―check with the building inspector and town office for local requirements. Your site must have a building with a heating system, improved floor (not just dirt), more than 750 sq ft, and other qualities of a commercial building.

The state will consider several factors when determining how many dealer plates to issue you. The number of plates you get is a function of how much motor vehicle business you do―number of vehicles sold and number of employees. If your dealer plates happen to be stolen or lost, as could occur if a vehicle were taken from the dealer lot, you need to contact the police right away.

Dealer plates come with strict rules about how, when, and by whom they are used. For example, retail dealer plates cannot be used on any personal vehicle except that of the dealer. If you have any questions about how to use dealer plates, ask the agent who visits your site during the application and registration process.

Becoming a licensed dealer is a process that takes time. Even after you have applied and been issued your dealer license, you must keep vehicle records and meet minimum requirements to keep your dealer license because when you renew the state will perform an audit of your operation. If you livelihood depends on selling, buying, transporting, or repairing motor vehicles you will surely comply with the DMV requirements.

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