Learn how to apply for a vehicle dealer license.
The applicant/licensee must comply with all applicable laws and rules, even if not covered below.
Who needs a license?
Any business or auctioneer who buys or sells at wholesale or retail:
- New or used cars
- New or used trucks
- New or used motor homes
If you don't have a dealer license, it's illegal to:
- Sell more than 4 vehicles registered to you in any 12 months
- Buy and sell vehicles for the purpose of making a profit
- Sell any number of vehicles that aren't registered to you
Business site requirements
To get a vehicle dealer license, your business site must:
- Comply with all applicable building codes, zoning, and other land-use ordinances. For more information, please contact your city or county directly.
- Be located at a commercial property with an enclosed building.
- Have an exterior sign that is permanently affixed to the land or building with the business name and the type of business (such as auto sales).
- Have an operating telecommunications system and a phone number listed in directory assistance. A mobile number is acceptable as long as it is listed in directory assistance.
- Be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 5 days per week. These hours are referred to as normal business hours. Additional hours and days of operation may be added at your discretion.
- Have an area to maintain books, records, and files at the business site. If 2 or more vehicle dealer businesses share a location, all records, office facilities, and inventory must be physically separated and clearly identified.
All retail vehicle dealers are required to use the E-permits system. Find out more about E-Permits.
How to apply
Note: We issue this license, but it's processed by the Department of Revenue's Business Licensing Service (BLS). BLS prints it on the business license they provide. They refer to licenses issued by us as endorsements to the business license.
Gather the necessary documents
- Supporting documents shown below, ready for upload.
- If applying by mail:
- Visa, MasterCard or American Express credit/debit card (transaction fee charged) or bank account information for E-check to pay:
- Applicable BLS fees
- Vehicle dealer sub-agency license and plate fees
Supporting documents for your application
Use our Dealer Checklist to make sure you're prepared to submit your application.
- $30,000 bond
- Provide Vehicle, Vessel Dealer Business Bond or form from a bonding company.
- Bonds are available through insurance companies.
- The principal name must be exactly the same as both the business owner and business firm name.
- Bond must be signed by the applicant and the attorney-in-fact for the bonding company.
- Financial/Source of Funds Statement
- Sole proprietor or partnership: each person must submit a separate form.
- Corporation, LLC, or LLP: submit 1 form that includes only the assets and liabilities of the business.
- Personal Criminal History Statement for each owner, officer, or member of the business.
- Copy of your property tax statement or the rental/lease agreement for the business site as proof of ownership.
If selling only used vehicles:
- Certificate of Dealer Education as proof you completed the required training.
To get this certificate, contact:
- Washington State Independent Automobile Dealers Association
707 Auburn Way South
Auburn, WA 98002
- Independent Dealers Education Association
5812 N Vista Lane, Spokane, WA 99212
Submit your application
Submit your application online
Submit your application by mail
Mail your completed forms, supporting documents, and a check/money order payable to the Department of Revenue for the BLS fees and vehicle dealer license and plate fees to:
State of Washington
Business Licensing Service
PO Box 9034
Olympia, WA 98507-9034
After you receive your license
- You’ll need a contract with us to search vehicle registration information.
- You must post a license at each location where you operate. You may not begin business activity until you receive the required license.
To get a Temporary Vehicle Dealer Sub-agency permit, submit a Dealer Temporary Sub-Agency License Application.