Dealer-related Information in Washington

Washington's Department of Licensing (DOL) provides information for vehicle dealers on its website. Dealers and other vehicle-related businesses can find out about business licenses, vehicle wrecking, Washington's Lemon Law, and more on the DOL's Vehicle and Vessel Dealers page.

On the Vehicle and Vessel Dealers page, the following businesses will find information about the state's regulations:

  • Car dealers
  • Boat dealers
  • Car manufacturers
  • Vehicle wrecking companies
  • Tow-truck operations
  • Hauling companies
  • Off-road vehicle and snowmobile sellers
  • Scrap-processing operations

The page is a jumping-off point to find the following resources:

You can also find the following forms and manuals in PDF format on the site:

  • Manual for Vehicle Dealers and Manufacturers
  • Dealer Check List
  • Boat Dealer Manual

Washington makes it easy to apply for a Business License. You can do so online or by mail. Online applications are processed in about 10 business days; while applications received by mail or in person take approximately 3 weeks to process.


Fees for licenses vary depending on the type of vehicle you wish to sell. Some of the license types available are:

  • Motor vehicle: $975
  • Manufactured home or travel trailer: $975
  • Vessel: $120
  • Off road vehicle: $25
  • Snowmobile: $25
  • Sub-agency: $100

In addition to your license fee you will also have to pay for your dealer plates. The fees for dealer plates also vary by type of vehicle:

  • Motor vehicles, travel trailers, manufactured homes: $50.75 per plate.
  • Snowmobiles and off road vehicles: $4 per plate.
  • Vessel initial dealer decal and certificate: $40.
  • Additional vessel dealer decals and certificates: $20 per.

Other fees you may be required to pay:

  • Business license application non-refundable fee: Varies by license type.
  • Business registered as a trade name: $5.
  • E-permit: $40 per permit.

Before your license expires, you will be sent a renewal notice. The notice is sent approximately 4 weeks before your license expires and list all of the annual fees on your notice.

More Information

You've got a few other resources for finding out about how to get a dealer license and how to run a dealership. A good place to begin, of course, is with the Washington Business Licensing Service. They may be contacted by phone at (360) 705-6741, or at the following address:

  • State of Washington
  • Business Licensing Service
  • P.O. Box 9034
  • Olympia, WA 98507

In an industry as highly regulated as the auto dealership business, it's critical that you understand all the laws that apply to your business. If you'd like to read everything in pure legalese that you ever wanted to know about running an auto dealership, the State of Washington can oblige.

The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) and the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) both contain comprehensive sections devoted to auto dealers and related businesses. The below links will take you to directories where you can browse topics related to the legal ins and outs of buying and selling vehicles in Washington:

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