Date Published: July 19, 2016

How to Get a North Carolina Motor Vehicle Dealer License

Motor vehicle dealers in the state of North Carolina must have a license in order to operate their business.   There are five different kinds of North Carolina Motor Vehicle Dealer Licenses.  Applicant can apply for a dealer license, wholesale dealer license, factory branch license, distributor license, or manufacturer dealer license.   This post should help those trying to navigate the licensing process figure out what they need to complete the application.

“Established Salesroom” and “Established Office”

Every applicant for a retail North Carolina Motor Vehicle Dealer License must have an “established salesroom”.  It needs to be no less than 96 square feet and the space must either be a permanent indoor establishment or a separate building that has its own entrance and is not a place of residence or other business.

Every applicant for a wholesaler North Carolina Motor Vehicle Dealer License must have an “established office”. It, like the established salesroom for retailers, needs to be no less than 96 square feet in a space that is a permanent indoor establishment. It differs from the established salesroom mostly because the wholesaler license differs from the retailer license.  The established office wholesalers must keep books, records and files.  All established salesrooms and offices must comply with state, county and city zoning laws. 

North Carolina Motor Vehicle DealerPost a Surety Bond

Part of the licensing application process is posting a surety bond.  Applicants need to post the North Carolina Motor Vehicle Dealer Surety Bond.  Surety bonds guarantee something, and the North Carolina Motor Vehicle Dealer Surety Bond ensures that the dealer will operate a responsible business.  Customers can file claims on the bond if the the dealer causes financial harm them.  The surety company will investigate and pay out claims, but the dealership must pay the surety company back if that happens.  

For the first established salesroom/office, the bond amount will be $50,000.  For each additional salesrooms/offices, the bond amount will be $25,000.


 The application for the North Carolina Motor Vehicle Dealer License requires an array of fees.  The following list covers the baseline for all the needed fees.   However, counties that require the Regional Transit Authority will add additional fees. Wake County ($5), Randolph County ($1) and Orange/Durham County ($15) all require additional fees. 

  • North Carolina Motor Vehicle Dealer License Certificate: $90
  • Dealer transporter plate(s): $18 each
  • The first five motor vehicle dealer plates: $36 each
  • Any additional plates: $18 each
  • Manufacture License Certificate: $195
  • Factory Branch License Certificate: $130
  • Factory or Sale Representative Fee: $20
  • Temporary Markers: $25 for a set of 25

Other Requirements

This post covers a good portion of the things motor vehicle dealers need in order to get a license. But there are a couple things it leaves out.  Licensees need to take a small Education Course.  To view a list of North Carolina approved Motor Vehicle Dealer Education Courses, you can click here.  There is a sign requirement: the sign for the dealership needs to be in block letters no smaller than 3 inches with a contrasting background.  Applicants also need to purchase the “Traders” license from the municipality or county they wish to do business in. Dealers also need to register their name with the Register of Deeds in the county they are in.  Lastly, if the dealer is part of a corporation, Articles of Incorporation must be filed with the North Carolina Secretary of State.  Once you’ve done all this, you are ready to submit your application!

If you think this fantastically interesting and you want more and more information, click here to view the North Carolina Motor Vehicle Dealer and Manufacturer Regulation Manual.

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