Types of Dealer Licenses The Department of Motor Vehicles issues several types of licenses for buying, selling and trading motor vehicles. The type of business that you wish to operate should determine the type of license appropriate for you.

Each license is valid for 12 months and should be displayed prominently in your place of business. Each license applies to only one dealer at one business location and is not transferable to any other dealer or location. The fee for each license is $50.00.

If you operate as a dealer or wholesaler without the proper license, you may be convicted of a misdemeanor and fined up to $1,000 and/or imprisoned for up to two years.

Motor Vehicle Dealer License. A motor vehicle dealer license, the most commonly issued license, will allow you to sell retail or wholesale motor vehicles. Vehicles may be sold to the general public and any other dealer or wholesaler.

As a licensed dealer, you are not required to sell a specific number of vehicles to maintain your license. However, you must have a dealer license if you sell or attempt to sell more than five vehicles in a calendar year.

Motor Vehicle Wholesaler License. Licensed motor vehicle wholesalers differ from dealers in that they are limited to whom they can sell motor vehicles. As a licensed wholesaler, you may only sell vehicles to licensed motor vehicle dealers or other licensed wholesalers.

There are no limitations or requirements for the number of vehicles that you sell in a calendar year. However, you must have a wholesaler license if you attempt to sell more than five vehicles in a calendar year.

Motor Vehicle Wholesale Auction License. A motor vehicle wholesale auction license allows you to conduct a motor vehicle auction in your place of business. You do not own the vehicles auctioned. Other businesses actually own, buy or sell the vehicles. Your wholesale auction license permits you to provide a building or place to conduct the auction. If you choose to purchase and sell vehicles belonging to the auction, you may do so.

Motorcycle Dealer License. As a motorcycle dealer, you are licensed to sell retail or wholesale motorcycles to the general public or any other dealer or wholesaler.

Like motor vehicle dealers, you must have a motorcycle dealer license if you sell or attempt to sell more than five motorcycles in a calendar year.

Motorcycle Wholesaler License. Licensed motorcycle wholesalers are limited to selling motorcycles to licensed motorcycle dealers or other licensed motorcycle wholesalers.

There are no limitations or requirements for the number of vehicles that you may sell in a calendar year.

Travel Trailer Dealer License. A person is required to be a travel trailer dealer if they sell more than three travel trailers, new or used, or one travel trailer that has never been titled. These dealers are issued a regular dealer's license marked Travel Trailer Dealer.

Travel Trailer Dealer License (Temporary). You must be a licensed South Carolina trailer dealer to apply for a temporary travel trailer dealer license. This temporary license permits you to exhibit and sell travel trailers (motor homes) at fairs, recreational and sports shows, vacation shows and other similar events. Dealers may not purchase more than six temporary licenses in one year. This license applies to only one dealer operating in one location and is not transferable to any other dealer or location.

The Temporary Travel Trailer Dealer License is valid for 10 consecutive days and the fee is $20.00 per license. Initial Application for a Dealer's License Before beginning business operations as a dealer or wholesaler, you must apply to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Depending upon the type of license you require and whether or not you have been licensed before, your licensing requirements may differ.

To obtain any type of dealer or wholesaler license, you must complete all required applications and pass an inspection by the Department of Motor Vehicles, Dealer Licensing and Audit Unit. As a first time applicant, you must submit Form DLA-1, Application for a Motor Vehicle License and Form DLA-1B, Motor Vehicle Dealer and Wholesaler Surety Bond, to the Dealer Licensing and Audit Unit. No fees are required to submit your application.

Form DLA-1, Application for a Motor Vehicle License, is the basic application for your dealer or wholesaler license. In this two-page application, you must indicate the type of business you intend to operate, the address of your dealership, and provide information regarding your employees. The application also requires you to provide estimates regarding the number of vehicles you expect to sell during the first year of operation.

Any change in the information provided on your application must be reported to the department within 30 days. If you move your dealership to a new location, change the name of the business, change ownership or change your status from a wholesaler to a dealer, you must complete a new application. In the event you cease operating as a dealer or wholesaler, you must notify the department within 10 days and return your dealer or wholesaler license and any plates issued to you.

Surety Bond Form DLA-1B, Motor Vehicle Dealer and Wholesaler Surety Bond, insures that every dealer or wholesaler applicant furnishes a surety bond in the amount of $15,000.00. You must submit your original Surety Bond and Power of Attorney with the Form DLA-1, Application for Motor Vehicle License, at the time of your application. The purpose of the bond is to provide indemnity for loss or damage caused an individual due to fraud or fraudulent representation in relation to a sale or transfer of a motor vehicle by a licensed dealer, wholesaler or their employees.

Your bond must be in effect before the department will grant a license to you. The owner, partner or corporate officer of the dealership must sign the surety bond. A corporate surety company authorized to do business in South Carolina must also secure the bond. If you should change your bonding company, you must submit a new surety bond and Power of Attorney to the Dealer Licensing and Audit Unit.

Inspection Once your application is processed by the Dealer Licensing and Audit Unit, a DMV agent will contact you to schedule an inspection. During this inspection, the DMV agent will determine whether or not your place of business and operational procedures qualify you as a motor vehicle dealer. Depending upon your status as a dealer or wholesaler, certain requirements must be met for you to pass the inspection.

Submitting Your Application First time applicants should submit Form DLA-1, Application for Motor Vehicle License, and Form DLA-1B, Motor Vehicle Dealer and Wholesaler Surety Bond, to the following address:

South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles Dealer Licensing and Audit Unit Post Office Box 1498 Blythewood, SC 29016-0023 For questions, call (803) 896-2611. Renewal Applications To renew your dealer or wholesaler license, you must complete Form DLA-1, Application for Motor Vehicle License and submit it to your local Department of Motor Vehicles Branch Office. If you purchased a new surety bond since your last application, you must submit your original bond and Power of Attorney when you renew your license.

Inspection Some applicants require facility inspection upon renewal. The following criteria determine whether or not an inspection is required for a renewal applicant:

The dealer or wholesaler license has been expired for more than 90 days. The status of the dealer has changed (wholesaler to dealer or vice versa). The dealer or wholesaler changed his name and/or address. The dealer or wholesaler changed ownership or location. Tips to Remember The name and address on your surety bond must match the name and address on your application. The names, addresses and driver's license numbers of all your employees must be furnished on the reverse side of your application. If additional space is needed, please attach a separate sheet of paper. If you have moved, a DMV agent must inspect your new location before a new license can be issued. If the 911 System or Post Office has assigned you a new address, you must submit a new application or letter from the Post Office and an address change rider from your bond company. Dealer Central Locations

For the Charleston area:

  • Dealer Central*** (For Automobile Dealerships Only)

8740 North Park Boulevard North Charleston, SC 29406 (843) 953-6058

For the Columbia area:

800 Dutch Square Blvd. Dutch Square Plaza Bldg A, Suite 100 Columbia, SC 29210 (803) 896-5743 (For Automobile Dealerships)

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