Dealer Licensing in Ohio

Occasionally selling a personal vehicle is all well and good, but if you want to go into business dealing with motor vehicles, you need a new or used car dealer license from the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).

OH Dealer License Requirements 

Whether or not you require an Ohio dealer license depends on if you want to sell new or used cars—let’s see if you meet the threshold for needing dealer credentials.

Used Car Dealer

You DO NOT need a used car dealer license if you are an individual who makes 5 sales of your own personal vehicles during a period of 12 months.

However, you DO need a used car dealer license if you’re in the business of selling, displaying for sale, or offering for sale used motor vehicles as a retailer or wholesaler.

Note that used car dealers in Ohio must:

  • Have a verifiable net worth of at least $75,000.
  • Establish and maintain a place of business that meets the physical characteristics the OH BMV requires of used car lots.

New Car Dealer

You need a new car dealer license if you’re in the business of selling, displaying for sale, or offering for sale new motor vehicles as a retailer.

For a new car dealer license, note that you:

  • Don’t need a separate used car dealer license if you’ll sell used cars.
  • Need only to meet the BMV’s required physical characteristics for a new car dealership.
  • Must have a verifiable net worth of at least $75,000.

Become an OH Car Dealer

Ohio provides a comprehensive Auto Dealers website that has all of the dealer and dealership requirements  — keep this website handy as you put together your application for an Ohio dealer license.

All car dealer license applicants need to provide:

Depending on your situation, you might also need:

  • A Certificate of Compliance (Form BMV 4347) IF you have at least 2 dealerships operating at the same business location.
    • You’ll ALSO need to send a copy of this form with your Articles of Incorporation to the OH Secretary of State’s office.
  • A completed Application for Certified Copy and/or Duplicate Permit (Form BMV 4335) IF you have more than 1 place of business within the same county (each location needs its own form).
  • IF you’re applying for a:
  • Additional, specialized paperwork if you plan on selling new remanufactured vehicles that aren’t franchised by a manufacturer—contact the BMV’s Dealer Licensing Section for details.

Mail everything to:

Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles
Attention: Dealer Licensing Section
P.O. Box 16521
Columbus, Ohio 43216

There’s a lot that goes into Ohio dealer license applications—if you have questions along the way, call the BMV’s Dealer Licensing Section for help.

Fingerprinting Requirements 

IN ADDITION to submitting an application, the following dealership affiliates must undergo a criminal background check via electronic fingerprints taken at a qualified Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI&I) WebCheck location:

  • President.
  • Owners.
  • Partners.
  • Members who own at least 10>#/span### of the business.
  • Trustees.

The electronic fingerprints must be forwarded directly to “BMV Dealer Licensing” at the WebCheck location. Fees for the fingerprinting can vary by provider.

Once your fingerprints and application are approved and your dealership passes inspection, you’ll receive your Ohio dealer license!

All car dealer licenses expire on March 31 every 2 years. You’ll receive your renewal application packet by January 31.

Car Dealership Physical Characteristics

Ohio requires slightly different physical characteristics for new and used car dealerships. Your dealership will need to only meet the requirements applicable to the type of dealer license (used or new) you’re applying for.

Used Car Dealerships

Your used car dealership must be an established place of business that:

  • Is accessible from public roads and clearly identifiable as a dealership.
  • Complies with all local zoning laws.
  • Has a car lot covering at least 3,500 square feet (not including driveways) with:
    • An adequate hard surface ground (such as concrete or gravel) for preventing the buildup of dust, mud, and water.
    • A permanent physical barrier that separates it from any other businesses or residences.
  • Has a permanent office measuring 180 square feet or more that’s on the lot, complete with:
    • A desk.
    • 3 chairs.
    • A filing cabinet.
    • Heat and electric lighting.
    • A working telephone in the dealership’s name.
  • Displays the business hours.
  • Has a sign that shows the business name in letters at least 6 inches tall.

When you submit your application, you’ll need to provide pictures of your business to demonstrate it meets all of the BMV’s requirements. The BMV will also send an inspector to verify your dealership is up to state standards.

New Car Dealerships

Your new car dealership must be an established place of business that:

  • Is used exclusively for dealing with motor vehicles.
  • Has space under a roof to:
    • Display at least 1 new motor vehicle.
    • Service and repair at least 1 new motor vehicle.
      • The service and repair space CAN be separate from the dealership proper but CANNOT be more than 1 mile away.
  • Has a sign that shows the business name in letters at least 6 inches tall.
  • Complies with all local zoning regulations.

The Ohio BMV will require photographs of your new dealership when you submit your application to show it meets all the physical requirements. A BMV inspector will also visit your dealership to ensure it’s in line with the state’s requirements.

Ohio Car Dealer Fees

You’ll need to include a check payable to “Ohio Treasurer of State” with your new or used car dealer license application for the following fees:

  • Permit (required): $50.
  • Master Plate (required for dealers; optional for lessors): $50.25.
    • Additional Plates (optional): $10.25 each.
  • Title Defect Rescission Fund (required): $150.
    • This fee is refundable if you don’t meet car dealer license requirements.
  • Postage (required if you’re requesting plates): $4.50.
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