How to Get an Auto Dealer License in Missouri

Table of contents

What is an auto dealer license in Missouri

Step 1: Determine what motor vehicle dealer license you want

Step 2: Submit an online background check

Step 3: Obtain an auto dealer bond

Step 4: Register your business

Step 5: Provide a picture of your business

Step 6: Submit dealer application


TLDR: Bec​​oming a licensed motor dealer in Missouri might seem complex, but fear not! We've simplified the process for you, making it easy to kickstart your career as a licensed dealer in no time. Follow the steps below, and you'll be on your way to selling vehicles legally.

What is an auto dealer license in Missouri

An auto dealer license in Missouri, also known as a motor dealer license, is an official authorization granted by the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) to individuals or businesses that want to engage in the business of selling motor vehicles. This license is required by law for anyone involved in buying, selling, exchanging, or offering for sale of more than 6 new or used motor vehicles, trailers, or motorcycles in the state of Missouri within a year.

Step 1: Determine what motor vehicle dealer license you want

There are various types of dealer licenses available, and your choice depends on the type of vehicles you intend to sell. You must determine the appropriate license category based on the specific vehicle types you plan to offer for sale.

Boat Dealer

A boat dealer is a licensed individual or business authorized to engage in the buying, selling, exchanging, or offering for sale of boats and watercraft.

Franchise Motor Vehicle Dealer

A Franchise Motor Vehicle Dealer is a type of licensed dealership that has an agreement with an automotive manufacturer or distributor to sell new motor vehicles under their established brand name. In this arrangement, the dealership operates as a franchisee and represents a specific automaker in selling and servicing their vehicles. Franchise dealerships have the advantage of selling brand-new vehicles directly from the manufacturer or distributor, which can include popular and well-established automotive brands. They typically benefit from advertising support, access to manufacturer promotions, and technical training provided by the automaker.

New Powersport Dealer

 A new powersport dealer in Missouri is a licensed dealership that specializes in selling new powersport vehicles. Powersport vehicles are recreational vehicles designed for off-road or outdoor recreational use and can include items such as all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), motorcycles, snowmobiles, personal watercraft (jet skis), and other similar vehicles.

Public Motor Vehicle Auction

A Public Motor Vehicle Auction Dealer is a licensed entity that specializes in conducting motor vehicle auctions that are open to the public. These dealerships are authorized to facilitate the sale of used motor vehicles through auctions, where interested buyers can bid on the vehicles, and the highest bidder wins the auction. The Public Motor Vehicle Auction Dealer acts as an intermediary between sellers (individuals, businesses, financial institutions, etc.) and potential buyers. They provide a platform for sellers to auction their used vehicles and for buyers to participate in the auction to acquire vehicles at competitive prices.

Recreational Motor Vehicle Dealer

A Recreational Motor Vehicle Dealer is a licensed dealership that specializes in selling recreational motor vehicles. Recreational motor vehicles are vehicles designed for leisure and outdoor activities, typically used for camping, traveling, or recreational purposes. These vehicles can include RVs (recreational vehicles), camper vans, motorhomes, travel trailers, and other similar vehicles.

Trailer Dealer

A Trailer Dealer is a licensed dealership that specializes in selling trailers to customers. Trailers are non-motorized vehicles designed to be towed by a motorized vehicle, such as cars, trucks, or motorcycles. They serve various purposes, including transporting goods, equipment, livestock, boats, and other items.

Used Motor Vehicle and Used Powersport Dealer

A Used Motor Vehicle and Used Powersport Dealer is a licensed dealership that specializes in selling both used motor vehicles and used powersport vehicles to customers. This type of dealership offers a wide range of pre-owned vehicles, including cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, and other powersport vehicles.

Wholesale Motor Vehicle Auction

A Wholesale Motor Vehicle Auction is a specialized type of auction where motor vehicles are sold in bulk or large quantities to licensed motor vehicle dealers, rather than to individual consumers. In these auctions, vehicles are typically sold at wholesale prices, which are lower than retail prices, making them attractive to dealers who want to add to their inventory for resale.

Wholesale Motor Vehicle Dealer

A Wholesale Motor Vehicle Dealer is a licensed entity that specializes in buying and selling motor vehicles at wholesale prices. Unlike retail dealerships that sell vehicles directly to consumers, wholesale dealers operate within the automotive industry's wholesale market, primarily selling vehicles to other licensed motor vehicle dealers, auctions, and certain designated buyers.

Step 2: Submit an online background check

The online background check is a standard procedure performed by the Missouri Highway Patrol aimed at ensuring that all individuals involved in the dealership meet the state's eligibility criteria and are of good moral character. It is designed to protect consumers and maintain the integrity of the motor vehicle industry by screening applicants for any criminal history, fraud, or other disqualifying factors. In this search, the Missouri Highway Patrol will perform a name-based search on your criminal histroy and submit the results to you electronically in 10-14 businesss days. You will include these results in your online dealer application. It is important to note that the search costs $13.

Step 3: Obtain an Missouri Auto Dealer Bond

Obtaining an auto dealer bond is a requirement to get a license in Missouri. An auto dealer bond is a financial assurance that auto dealers must secure when applying for or renewing their dealer license. Its purpose is to protect both consumers and the government from potential dishonest or unethical behavior by auto dealers. In Missouri, the required bond amount is $50,000.

The auto dealer bond acts as a binding agreement involving three parties: the auto dealer (the principal), the government agency requiring the bond (the obligee), and a surety bond company (the surety) that issues the bond. Should the dealer partake in illegal activities, violate regulations, or fail to fulfill their responsibilities, the bond comes into play by compensating affected parties, including customers who may suffer financial losses due to the dealer's actions.

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Step 4: Register your business name

To operate your business in Missouri, you must register your business name with the Missouri Secretary of State. This can be done conveniently online through the Secretary of State's online portal. During the registration process, you will need to pay the required registration fee. Once completed, you can obtain and print out your articles of incorporation, which are necessary to include with your application. This step ensures that your business name is officially recognized and sets you on the path to successfully establishing your business in Missouri.

You are also required to set up a permanent business location that meets the following requirements:

  • Visible signage with letters that are 6 inches tall minimum
  • A functional landline
  • Posted business hours
  • A display lot

Step 5: Provide a picture of your business

In this step, you need to take a photograph of your business location, which is an essential part of the motor dealer license application process. The photo serves as visual documentation of your dealership's physical existence and compliance with state regulations.  A law enforcement officer should certify this picture.

Step 6: Submit dealer application

After completing all the previous steps, you are now ready to complete the online dealer application. Here is some of the information you will need to include: 

  • Contact information
  • Your organization’s information
  • The license type you want
  • Background check

Once you have completed the application correctly, you will be prompted to submit it online. You have and pay the fees which vary depending on the license type you select which we will list below:

License Fee
Used Motor Vehicle and Used Powersport  $62.50
Franchise Motor Vehicle Dealer $212.50
Manufacturer $0.00
Wholesale Motor Vehicle Auction $83.33
Wholesale Motor Vehicle Dealer $62.50
Boat Dealer $33.33
New Powersport Dealer $212.50
Recreational Motor Vehicle Dealer $62.50
Public Motor Vehicle Auction $83.33
Trailer Dealer $62.50


Becoming a licensed motor dealer in Missouri involves a series of steps to ensure compliance with state regulations and consumer protection laws. The process includes choosing the appropriate dealer license type, undergoing an online background check, obtaining an auto dealer bond for financial protection, registering the business name with the Secretary of State, setting up a permanent business location, providing a photo of the business, and finally, submitting the dealer application with all necessary documents and fees. Following these steps diligently will set aspiring dealers on the path to obtaining their motor dealer license and kickstarting their career in the automotive industry in Missouri.