Dealer Licensing in Tennessee

So, you have a few cars for sale. Does that mean you need a car dealer license? Maybe, maybe not. On this page, we’ll help you figure out if you need a dealer license and, if so, how to apply for one with the Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC).

Do You Need a TN Dealer License?

The MVC requires you obtain a Tennessee motor vehicle dealer license if you sell more than 5 motor vehicles in 1 year

Other Types of Licenses

On this page, we explain how to apply for a regular car dealer license; if you’re looking for another type of license, refer to the appropriate MVC page: 

Apply for a TN Car Dealer License

Use the Tennessee’s Online Licensing Services to complete and submit your application for a motor vehicle dealer license with the MVC. As you complete your application, the system will advise you on how and where to submit the required dealer application materials.

Once the MVC receives all the necessary items above, you’ll be contacted to set up an inspection of your dealership, during which an agent will check to make sure your business is up to state standards. We’ll go over specifics of the inspection next.

Requirements for TN Car Dealerships

A MVC representative will inspect your dealership to make sure the following aspects of your premises meet the requirements for an established place of business in Tennessee:

  • Facility/building:
    • Is a permanent facility used primarily for selling and servicing motor vehicles; CANNOT be a temporary structure or private residence. A modular unit must have underpinning.
    • Floor space totals 288 square feet.
    • Has restroom facilities.
  • Display lot:
    • Is accessible from the main office building.
    • Has space to display at least 15 motor vehicles.
    • Customer parking large enough for at least 3 motor vehicles.
    • CANNOT be grass, part of public or unimproved land.
    • Must NOT mix with the inventory or parking space of another business.
  • Signage:
    • Includes entire dealership name in letters at least 8 inches high
    • Must be permanent; banners aren’t acceptable.
    • Clearly visible from the street.

Once your dealership passes inspection, your application materials and inspection results will be reviewed and, if all goes well, you’ll receive your Tennessee motor vehicle dealer license! 

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