In order to legally sell cars in the state of Washington, the Department of Licensing in Washington State requires you to get a Washington Car Dealer License.
Washington residents are legally allowed to sell up to four vehicles per year without being licensed, as long as the vehicles are registered in their name. To sell any number of vehicles that aren’t registered to you is a criminal felony.
Note on Washington Wholesale Dealer Licenses: Effective July 1, 2017 Washington will stop issuing Wholesale Dealer Licenses. More info here: How to get a Washington Wholesale Dealer License - Not What You Think.
How to get a Washington Dealer License
To get a Washington Dealer License, you'll need to establish a business location, complete a Washington dealer license application, purchase a Washington Motor Vehicle Dealer surety bond, and pay licensing fees. You might also need to complete a dealer education course.
You can complete these steps online or by mail.
Step #1: Obtain a Certificate of Dealer Education (used dealers only)
- Take a pre-licensing course
- Pay $300 class fee
To learn more and register for a class visit the WSIADA website.
Step #2: Establish business location
Your business site must:
- Comply with all building codes and zoning
- Be located at a commercial property
- Have an exterior sign
- Have an operating business phone line
- Be open from 10 am – 4 pm, five days per week
- Have an area to maintain books and records
For a complete list of requirements, visit the Washington Gov Website: Dealer Licensing
Step #3: Complete Paperwork
- Business License Application
- Vehicle Dealer Manufacturer Addendum
- Financial/Source Funds Statement
- Personal Criminal History Statement
Have a previous felony? Check out this post on Getting a Dealer License With a Felony.
If you are selling only used vehicles, you will need to submit a Certificate of Dealer Education. To get this certificate, contact either one of the following education providers:
- Washington State Independent Automobile Dealers Association 253-735-0267
- Independent Dealers Education Association 509-220-5530
Step #4: Sign up for E-Permitting
All retail vehicle dealers are required to use the E–Permitting system.
Step #5: Purchase Washington Motor Vehicle Dealer Bond
A Washington Motor Vehicle Dealer Bond is a type of surety bond that protects your customers.
If you fail to follow rules and regulations, someone can make a claim against your bond.
Be sure to apply for the correct bond amount.
- New and/or used vehicles: $30,000 bond
- Motorcycles and/or other vehicles: $5,000 bond
(Note: Effective July 1, 2017, there is no longer an option for Washington Wholesale Dealer License or Bond)
You will pay anywhere from 1-15% of the total bond amount. This will be a one-time payment, not a monthly payment.
To see what you'd pay, get a free quote:
Step #6: Pay Fees
- Motor vehicle dealer license: $975
Only checks or money orders are accepted.
Make them payable to the "Department of Revenue."
Step #7: Submit Paperwork
Check over the Dealer Checklist to make sure you have completed all the necessary paperwork. Then mail all the paperwork, plus original WA Motor Vehicle Dealer Bond to the address below:
State of Washington
Business Licensing Service
PO Bod 9034
Olympia, WA 98507-9034
Questions about getting a Washington Dealer License? Contact the Washington Business Licensing Service.
Renewing Your Washington Dealer License
Your Washington Motor Vehicle Dealer License is valid for one year.
Renew your license with the Business Licensing Service at the Department of Revenue.
They'll mail you a reminder 45 days prior to your license expiration date. The expiration date is printed at the top right corner of your license. The renewal fee will be listed on your reminder notice.
When you renew, you will have to submit a Certificate of Dealer Education showing that you have completed at least 5 hours of approved training. To learn how to get this certificate, call (360) 664-6366.