Dealer Licensing in Washington

Washington's Department of Licensing (DOL) requires a dealer license from businesses engaged in buying, selling, or brokering vehicles, as well as other businesses involved in vehicle sales and marketing. The intent of Washington's requirements for automobile dealers is to ensure fair business practices and quality products for the state's drivers and registered vehicle owners.

Washington residents are only allowed to sell 4 vehicles registered in their name within 12 months without being licensed. Beyond that, a vehicle dealer license from the Washington DOL is required for individuals or businesses that engage in the following with either new or used cars:

  • Buying, selling, or leasing
  • Listing, exchanging, brokering, or advertising vehicle sales
  • Arranging, offering, soliciting, or negotiating vehicle sales for others
  • Sale of vehicles that are not titled with the seller's name

The fee for a dealer license in Washington is $975. Your yearly annual renewal fee will be listed on your renewal notice, which you will be mailed about 6 weeks before your license expires. Dealers in Washington may also obtain motor vehicle dealer plates, which are $38.75 each, per year.

The following requirements apply to temporary plates for auto dealers and other vehicle businesses:

  • Dealer plates may be used on vehicles for sale.
  • Dealer plates may be used on vehicles operated by licensed dealers, their employees, and their spouses.
  • Drivers of vehicles with dealer plates must carry identifying cards at all times.
  • Vehicles using dealer plates may be test driven with a valid demonstration permit that is no older than 72 hours.

There are other requirements for a vehicle dealer to obtain a license from the DOL in Washington, including specifications for the established place of business. The dealership must have the following:

  • Commercial zoning (with an enclosed building)
  • Permanent, exterior signage
  • Telephone book listing
  • Open 5 days per week during business hours
  • An area to keep all records and files onsite

Washington auto dealers must be bonded for $30,000 if selling new vehicles, mobile homes, and travel trailers. The bond must be $5,000 for other dealers, including sellers of used car, motorcycles, boats, electric vehicles (neighborhood use only), off-road and utlity vehicles and horse trailers.

More information and applications for dealer licenses in Washington may be obtained at a dealer office location. We also provide dealer forms and more dealer-related information. BBB Business Review