Dealer Licensing in Pennsylvania
You may need a Pennsylvania dealer license if you plan on buying or selling cars in The Keystone State. On this page, we’ll cover the steps and requirements for getting the PA dealer credentials you need.
Do I Need a PA Dealer License?
You must obtain a Pennsylvania car dealer license if any of the following apply to you:
- You’re going into the business of selling, offering for sale, or negotiating the sale of at least 5 motor vehicles in 1 calendar year.
- You’ll sell/negotiate the sale of motor vehicles you don’t own.
- You’ll sell/negotiate the sale of motor vehicles for resale purposes.
If the above statements apply to you, you’ll need to apply for a dealer license with the Pennsylvania Department of State’s State Board of Vehicle Manufacturers, Dealers and Salespersons.
ADDITIONALLY, you’ll need to apply for a separate salesperson license IF you’ll conduct business as a business entity (e.g. partnership or corporation). To do so, you’ll need to submit the Salesperson Initial License Application (REV 2020) and required materials (outlined on the application) along with your application for a PA dealer license.
If you hold your dealership as a sole proprietor, you DO NOT need a separate salesperson license.
Apply for a PA Car Dealer License
The board provides the Vehicle Dealership Initial License/Reactivation Application online through PALS. PALS should be your main reference point while you’re putting together your application for a PA dealer license.
To apply for your dealer license, submit the following:
- A completed Vehicle Dealership Initial License Application (REV 2020).
- Original photographs of your dealership that show your it meets the state’s business location requirements.
- A hand-drawn, labeled, signed, and dated diagram on a piece of paper measuring 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches that shows:
- Customer parking locations.
- Dimensions of all buildings, offices, and display areas.
- Location of any other businesses or residences on the premises.
- A copy of either of the following:
- Deed if you own the property.
- If your deed doesn’t include the property address within the location description, include an affidavit indicating the location description is the dealership location.
- Lease agreement if you’re renting the property.
- Lease agreement must be for a minimum of 6 months and list the facility’s address.
- Deed if you own the property.
- A copy of telephone bill or letter from phone company showing a single business landline is installed and the number is listed under your dealership’s licensed name.
- Documentation from your local zoning authority stating your location meets zoning regulations.
- EITHER a copy of the Certificate of Occupancy from the Department of Labor and Industry OR a copy of the letter of compliance or use and occupancy permit from the business licensing agency local to your dealership.
- Call the Department of Labor and Industry at (717) 787-3806 for more information.
- A resume that covers the past 5 years of work history for each owner, partner, officer, or member.
- Criminal background checks for each owner, partner, officer, or member, conducted within 90 days of your application date.
- Background checks must come from every state each individual lived in during the 5 years leading up to the application date.
- Pennsylvania residents: Obtain background checks from the Pennsylvania State Police using their PATCH search.
- Out-of-state residents: The Board provides a list of places you can obtain a background check acceptable for application purposes.
- The criminal background check must be.
- CAREFULLY READ BACKGROUND CHECK INFORMATION: The application packet provides details on extra information you must submit if you’ve ever been found guilty or pled guilty or nolo contendere to a misdemeanor or felony.
- Formation documentation related to your business type (i.e. corporation, limited liability corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, etc.).
- The application packet provides a list of required forms.
- A copy of the franchise agreement if you’ll sell new motor vehicles.
- A check or money order made payable to “The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” for the $65 initial dealer license fee.
Mail everything to:
State Board of Vehicle Manufacturers, Dealers and Salespersons
P.O. Box 2649
Harrisburg, PA 17105
The board will review your application and schedule an inspection of your dealership to ensure it’s up to state business location standards. Once everything’s approved, you’ll receive your dealer license!
Your car dealer license will expire on May 31 of every odd-numbered year. The board will mail your renewal notice before the expiration date.
Applying for a dealer license in Pennsylvania might feel overwhelming at times—if you get stuck or need help along the way, call the Board at (717) 783-1697.
Requirements for PA Car Dealerships
Before you receive your PA dealer license, the board will send an inspector to make sure your dealership has:
- A display area that is:
- Large enough to display a least 5 vehicles with their doors open OR at least 5,000 square feet if you’re selling recreational vehicles or manufactured housing (DOES NOT apply if you’re selling used manufactured housing ONLY).
- Equipped with proper surfacing and lighting.
- Separated from the parking areas of other businesses and residences by a barrier such as grass, ropes, or painted lines, if located outside.
- An office that:
- Is permanent and adjacent to the display area.
- Has a telephone, desk, and file cabinet you can lock.
- A dealership sign that:
- Shows the dealership’s name as it appears on the application.
- Is permanently attached to the building or permanently displayed in the outdoor showcase area.
- Is visible to the public.
- A sign displaying the dealership’s days and hours of operation.
If your dealership passes inspection, you’re well on your way to getting your Pennsylvania dealer license. Though, if it doesn’t pass, you’ll need to pay the board a $45 re-inspection fee and request another inspection once you’ve made sure your business location is up to standard.