Dealer Licensing in Wisconsin

Are you thinking about selling motor vehicles in Wisconsin? If so, then we have all the information to help you get your new dealership off the ground.

First Thing's First

Before anything else, you'll need to determine exactly which type of vehicle you'll sell and apply for the appropriate license. The most commonly used is the retail dealer license which covers several different forms of motor vehicles.

If you intend to sell just one type of vehicle, there are separate licenses available for motorcycle dealers and moped dealers, as well as for recreational vehicle dealers.

What You'll Need

Here's a list of the things that will be required of you before you will be permitted to open your dealership:

  • A business location with an indoor showroom of at least 12x20 ft, which must located in a business zone, and not be a residence. For motorcycles only, your display area only needs to be big enough for 3 motorcycles.
  • All local permits and zoning approvals for the business address.
  • A sales tax seller's permit from the Department of Revenue.
  • An irrevocable letter of credit or a $50,000 surety bond. (Only $5,000 is required if you're only selling motorcycles.)
  • The facility must have an in-house service department or be contracted in writing with a nearby repair service facility.
  • Your business must have a sign and posted hours.
  • At least 1 person who is licensed as a salesperson; either the dealership owner or another person.
  • If the business property is not owned by the applicant, then there must be a lease in place for the real estate.
  • A Certificate of Appointment from the manufacturer, also known as the franchise, if you plan to sell new vehicles.
  • The dealer license fee, dealer plate fee and the Department of Financial Institutions fees must be paid.
  • The applicant must be at least 18 years old.
  • Have no convictions of any serious crimes related to selling cars or other vehicles.
  • Be of good character.

Applying By Mail

There are several forms that you'll need to complete before you can be licensed to sell vehicles; refer to our Dealer Forms section for a comprehensive list of all forms.

Because of the requirement for original signatures and, in some cases, notarized documents, dealer license applications cannot be submitted online or by e-mail.

Here is the address you must use in order to submit your application:

Department of Transportation
Dealer and Agent Section
4802 Sheboygan Avenue, Room 201
P.O. Box 7909
Madison, WI 53707


Fees for dealer licenses and other dealer-related needs vary depending on the type of license and material being ordered, i.e., plates and cards. Wisconsin provides an online chart of the exact fees you'll need to submit.

License Renewal

Once you obtain your dealer license, it will be valid for 2 years. The Department of Transportation will send you a renewal notice and instructions to renew your license, along with dealer license plates, salesperson and dealer licenses, a video tape and guide to the rules and regulations of auto dealing.

Your retail dealer license cannot be renewed online; use the above address to mail your renewal material.

Need More?

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