Dealer Licensing in Washington
It’s against state law to deal in motor vehicles without a Washington motor vehicle dealer license. On this page, we’ll help you determine whether you need a dealer license and, if so, how to apply for one.
Who Needs a WA Dealer License?
You must apply for a dealer license if you’re in the business of selling, buying, or otherwise dealing with new and/or used cars, trucks, and motor homes.
Without a dealer license, you CANNOT:
- More than 4 motor vehicles for profit that are registered to you during any 12 months.
- ANY NUMBER of motor vehicles that aren’t registered to you
- Buy and sell vehicles to make a profit.
For the purposes of this guide, we’ll focus on applying for general new and used car dealer licenses. Skip down to “Other Types of Licenses” if you’re looking to sell something other than basic cars and trucks.
Other Types of Licenses
Refer to the following state pages for information on applying for other types of WA dealer licenses:
- Miscellaneous Vehicle Dealer.
- Covers neighborhood electric vehicles; utility, tent, boat, and horse trailers; and most vehicles that aren’t basic motor vehicles, mobile homes, or travel trailers.
- Snowmobile Dealer.
- Off-Road Vehicle Dealer.
- Covers motorized vehicles designed for trails and cross-country use.
- Doesn’t include snowmobiles or watercraft.
- Vessel/Watercraft Dealer.
- Manufactured Home/Travel Trailer Dealer.
- Covers non-motorized mobile homes, manufactured homes, park trailers, and travel trailers.
Carefully read the application instructions; some are the same as if you were applying for a regular car dealer license; others—such as surety bond amounts and dealership location requirements—are vastly different.
Requirements for Washington Car Dealerships
In Washington, your dealership must meet the following business location requirements:
- Located on a commercial property with an:
- Enclosed building.
- Exterior sign displaying your business name and business type that is permanently attached to the land or building.
- NOTE: When 2 vehicle dealer businesses or more share a location, the owners must physically separate and clearly identify office facilities, inventory, and records.
- Has a working telephone (mobile phones are acceptable) with a number listed in directory assistance.
- Has an area to securely store records, files, and books.
- Observes “normal business hours” (i.e. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 5 days a week) which are posted at the main entrance doors.
- You can have additional days and hours if desired.
- Meets local zoning, building, and land-use regulations.
- Contact your city or county authorities for this information.
By confirming your dealership meets all of the above criteria, you’ll be on the fast track to getting your WA dealer license.
Washington Car Dealer Education
If you’re applying to sell ONLY used vehicles, you must complete a pre-licensing class from the Washington State Independent Auto Dealers Association (WSIADA) and provide proof of completion (Certificate of Dealer Education) when you apply for your dealer license.
The class costs $300 ($350 if you register 3 business days prior to the class).
Check out the WSIADA’s pre-licensing class schedule and registration instructions to get started.
Apply for WA Car Dealer License
While the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL) issues dealer licenses, it’s the Department of Revenue’s (DOR) Business Licensing Service (BLS) that actually processes and prints them. So, you get a business license from the BLS, and the BLS considers anything issued by the DOL an endorsement to the business license.
Now, let’s apply for your car dealer license; you’ll need:
- A completed:
- Proof of a $30,000 surety bond, signed by you AND the bonding company’s attorney-in-fact must sign the bond.
- You can provide an official form from your bonding company OR the Vehicle/Vessel Dealer, Vehicle Manufacturer, Registered Tow Truck Operator, or Wrecker Business Bond (Form DLR-430-205).
- A Financial/Source of Funds Statement (Form DLR-430-206); if your dealership is a:
- Sole proprietor or partnership: Each person must submit the form.
- Corporation, LLC, or LLP: Submit 1 form including only the business assets and liabilities.
- Personal/Criminal History Statements (Form BLS-700-324) for each owner, officer, and member.
- Property tax statement or lease agreement for the business location.
- Your Certificate of Dealer Education IF you’re applying to sell only used vehicles.
- The applicable fees.
You can submit everything:
- You must be able to scan and attach copies of all documents and pay by credit card or electronic check.
- By mail, to:
State of Washington
Business Licensing Service
P.O. Box 9034
Olympia, WA 98507
Plate Search Contract
Once you receive your dealer license, you must get a plate search contract with the WA DOL. This allows you search state vehicle and vessel records, which will be an integral part of your business as a Washington car dealer.
Renewing Your WA Dealer License
You’ll receive dealer license renewal information before your credentials expire. When the time comes, you can renew your dealer license either online or by mail, following the instructions provided by the BLS.
Be prepared to pay renewal fees, which include fees applicable to your dealer license plus renewal fees for your dealer plates and business license.