Dealer Licensing in Virginia

Going into business selling new or used vehicles? Better get a Virginia motor vehicle dealer license, first.

Do I Need a VA Dealer License?

From application to issuance, the Virginia Motor Vehicle Dealer Board (MVDB) handles dealer licenses in the state.

You must apply for a VA dealer license if you:

  • Are wholly or partly in the business of selling new and/or used motor vehicles, regardless of whether you own the vehicles.
  • Sell, offer to sell, display (or permit the display) for sale at least 5 motor vehicles with any 12 consecutive months.

Virginia Dealer License Types

All types of Virginia dealer licenses fall into the following categories:

  • Franchise: You have an agreement with a car manufacturer or distributor to sell:
    • New motor vehicles, trailers, or semitrailers.
    • Used motor vehicles, trailers, or semitrailers under the manufacturer or distributor’s trademark.
  • Independent: You deal only in used motor vehicles.

Within those categories, the MVDB offers endorsements for specific types of motor vehicles, including:

For our purposes, we’re going to focus on dealer licenses with the new and used cars and trucks endorsement.

*NOTE: If you’re interested in becoming a salvage dealer, head to the VA Department of Motor Vehicles website for licensing information.

Dealer Qualification Test & Training Course

ALL dealer license applicants must complete a dealer qualification test.  If you’re applying for an independent dealer license and plan on overseeing the daily operations of your dealership, you’ll ALSO need to complete a Dealer-Operator Training Course.

Contact the Motor Vehicle Dealer Board at (804) 367-1100 if you aren’t sure whether you need to complete a Dealer-Operator Training Course, or have questions about the MVDB’s testing and training requirements in general.

Dealer-Operator Training Course

Independent dealer-operators (i.e. you’re in charge of your dealership’s day-to-day operations) must complete the Dealer-Operation Training Course BEFORE they can take the independent dealer-operator qualification test (see below).

Various colleges throughout the state offer the required course, which lasts 2 days and cost:

  • $325 if you register at least 2 weeks before the course start date.
  • $375 if you register within 1 week of the 1st day of the course. 

Refer to the current course schedules to find one near you and register.

Dealer Qualification Test

ALL DEALERS must take the appropriate dealer qualification test; study for your test with the Motor Vehicle Dealer-Operator Study Guide Materials (Form MVDB 34).

Then, head to your local DMV customer service center with:

Once you pass, you’ll be a big step closer to getting your VA dealer license.

Requirements for VA Car Dealerships

You must own or lease an established place of business from where you’ll conduct your dealer business, meaning your dealership must:

  • Have at least 250 square feet of space dedicated solely to sales, service, and an office area, all enclosed in a permanent building that is NOT a residence.
    • The office area must have:
      • The space to safely store all business records.
      • Basic office items including a desk, chairs, place to file records, and a working telephone in the dealership’s name
  • Have internet connection and an email address.
  • Have working utilities including electricity and heating.
  • Be able to display at least 10 vehicles.
    • Space must be exclusively for the dealership’s use.
  • Be open at least 20 hours per week:
    • 10 hours must be between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
    • Hours of operation must be posted and easily visible at the main entrance.
  • Have a permanent sign clearly visible from the front of the office with the dealership’s name in letters at least 6 inches high, unless restricted by law.
  • Meet all local zoning ordinances.

Apply for VA Car Dealer License

Now that you’ve taken the training course (if applicable), passed your qualification test, and established your car dealership, it’s time to submit your application materials and fees to the Motor Vehicle Dealer Board. The MVDB provides a Dealer Applicant Letter (Form MVDB 15), which includes an application checklist and instructions for you to refer to as you gather your materials.

You’ll need to submit:

Mail everything to:

Motor Vehicle Dealer Board
2201 W. Broad St., Suite 104
Richmond, VA 23220

If you have questions or need further assistance putting together your dealer license application, call the MVDB at (804) 367-1100.

VA Dealer License Renewal

Approximately 30 days before the expiration date, the Motor Vehicle Dealer Board will mail all the forms you need to renew your car dealer license.

You must return all completed forms and fees by mail postmarked no later than the last day of the month your license expires.

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