Dealer Licensing in Washington DC

Before you go into business selling vehicles in Washington, D.C., you need a Basic Business License AND to become a registered dealer with the DC Department of Motor Vehicles (DC DMV) Dealer Services. We’ve outlined it all for you below.

Do You Need a DC Dealer License?

You need a dealer license if you’re in the business of selling, buying, exchanging, distributing, or otherwise dealing with motor vehicles or trailers.

Becoming a DC car dealer is a two-fold process; you must:


Apply for a WA, D.C. Car Dealer License

FIRST, visit Washington, D.C.’s “Start a Business” page where you’ll find instructions on how to:

  • Register your corporation (if applicable).
  • Apply for a federal employer identification number (FEIN).
  • Obtain a certificate of occupancy.

After that, you can apply for a Basic Business License in the Motor Vehicle Dealer category from the Washington, D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DC DCRA) by providing:

  • A completed Basic Business License Application.
  • Proof your business is registered and in good standing with the DC DCRA IF your dealership will operate as a corporation, partnership, LLC, or trust.
  • A Clean Hands Self Certification.
    • This certifies that you don’t owe more than $100 to the DC government.
  • Your Federal Employment Identification Number (FEIN).
  • Certificate of Occupancy from the Office of Zoning (DCOZ).
    • The DCOZ will advise you on car dealership location requirements. Contact the DCOZ at (202) 442-4576 to speak with a zoning technician about requirements and a possible zoning review appointment.
  • Certified copy of your Police Criminal History Report (Form PD-70), which you can obtain from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
  • 3 copies of your Car Order and Bill of Sale form AND/OR Conditional Sales Contract.
  • A Motor Vehicle Dealer Bond for $25,000 from an authorized insurance carrier.
    • Alternatively, you can post a cash bond with the DC DCRA.
  • A Motor Vehicle Salesperson(s) Designation Letter.
    • You must submit at least 1 salesperson application.
  • If your dealership has outdoor facilities, a land plat from an approved surveyor in Washington, D.C.
  • Payment for the total fee of $556.60, broken down like so:
    • Category license: $411.00.
    • Application: $70.00.
    • Endorsement: $25.00.
    • 10% technology fee: $50.60.

Submit all of the above by any of the following methods:

  • Online by creating an account with My DC Business Center.
  • In person:
    • You can pay with cash, a check, a money order, or a major credit/debit card (except for American Express).
    • Bring everything to:
      • DCRA
        Business License Center
        1100 4th St. S.W.
        2nd Floor
        Washington, DC 20024
  • By mail:
    • Processing time can take up to 30 days using this method.
    • Pay with a check or money order made payable to “D.C. Treasurer.”
    • Send everything to:
      • Wells Fargo Bank
        DC Government Wholesale Lockbox 91360
        7175 Columbia Gateway Dr.
        Columbia, MD 21046

Your Basic Business License in the Motor Vehicle Dealer category is valid for 2 years

Become a WA, D.C. DMV Registered Dealer

Now that you have your Basic Business License in the Motor Vehicle Dealer category, you can apply to become a Washington, D.C. DMV registered dealer.

FIRST, gather up the following documents:

  • Original Basic Business License.
  • Each salesperson’s license.
  • Original Clean Hands Certificate.
    • You should have received this in response to your Clean Hands Self-Certification when you applied for your Basic Business License.
  • Copy of DC DCRA occupancy permit.
  • Copy of your tax number (FEIN or SSN).
  • Copy of the driver’s license or non-driver identification for:
    • The business owner.
    • Each salesperson.
  • Proof of dealership insurance.

NEXT, use the DC Department of Motor Vehicles Dealership ApplicationDC Department of Motor Vehicles Dealership Application to apply online; you must be able to scan and attach the documents listed above.

THEN, print the application, have it notarized, and store it with the original versions of the documents listed above.

FINALLY, wait for an email from the DC DMV notifying you of your appointment date, time, and location to come in and finalize your registration, for which you must bring:

  • The original notarized application.
  • All supporting documents.
  • Check, credit card, or money order for the $100 dealer registration fee.
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