TLDR: In order to sell more than five vehicles within a span of 12 months, acquiring a Motor Vehicle Dealer License is crucial. However, obtaining this license is no walk in the park. The following steps detail the process of obtaining a Motor Vehicle Dealer License.
A Motor Dealer License in New York is a legal authorization granted to individuals or businesses that wish to engage in the buying, selling, or leasing of motor vehicles as a commercial activity. It is a mandatory requirement for anyone involved in the sale of more than five vehicles within a 12-month period. This license ensures motor dealers comply with state regulations, consumer protection laws, and industry standards while conducting their automotive business activities. It serves as an official recognition by the state of New York that the licensee is qualified and authorized to operate as a motor vehicle dealer.
In New York, dealer licenses are categorized into seven main types based on business activity or vehicle type. These categories determine the specific type of license issued. The available options for dealer types are as follows:
There are many options for your business: Limited Liability Company (LLC), S Corporations, and Sole Proprietorships. We list the pros and cons of each below:
Limited Liability Corp (LLC)
Maximum amount of flexibility in business operations
A lot of filings and fees to stay compliance and cost
Better for smaller corporations with a max of 100 shareholders
More admin and rules than LLC
Easiest to get started, meant for solo business owners
Lack of legal distinction between the individual and the business. The owner is the business
If your business is anything other than a sole proprietorship or partnership, you would need to apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number. A federal EIN is a unique nine-digit tax identification number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify businesses operating in the United States. It is used for various purposes, including filing federal tax returns, opening business bank accounts, paying payroll taxes, applying for business licenses, etc.
You can apply for a federal employer identification number on the official IRS website. The application can be completed within one session and a Federal EIN number will be provided to the applicant upon completion.
A sole proprietor without employees and who doesn't file any excise or pension plan tax returns doesn't need an EIN but can get one. In this instance, the sole proprietor uses his or her social security number (instead of an EIN) as the taxpayer identification number.
With a certificate of authority, you have the authority to collect taxes on your taxable sales and are also authorized to issue and accept the majority of sales tax exemption certificates in New York State. The Certificate of Authority and Sales Tax ID number are issued by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (DTF). You may apply by visiting the NY State DTF website where you will also get instructions. Be sure to record your Sales Tax ID on the Original Facility Application.
Once your application has been approved, the Department of Taxation and Finance will mail you your certificate of authority.
There are various documents that you will need to complete based on the type of business you decide to register.
Corporations and LLCs:
Partnerships and Individuals Using an Assumed Name:
The dealer starter kit is required in your application to get an auto dealer license. Besides being a requirement by the New York DMV, they are also useful to the dealer because they generally include tools and materials to help the new dealer get started and promote the products effectively. Here are the components of a dealer starter kit.
These items can be purchased from a couple of vendors that have been recommended by New York’s DMV.
You will be required to purchase a sign for your business in order to apply for an auto dealer license. The sign offers a number of advantages to your business like brand recognition, 24/7 marketing, and competitive advantage.
The DMV requires your sign to meet the following requirements:
As part of your application, you are required to provide proof that you have permission to use the property at the business location. The various documents that you can provide are:
If you have any employees (family included), you must submit proof of Workers’ Compensation Insurance. This insurance provides benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. You can visit the NY State Workers Compensation Board website for instructions on this process. If you do not have any employees, indicate that on your application.
Licensed auto dealers and dealerships in New York are required to obtain an auto dealer bond. This bond serves as a guarantee that they will adhere to the regulations set forth by the Motor Vehicle Dealers & Transporters Regulations. Its purpose is to protect consumers by providing them with a recourse for seeking reimbursement in the event that the dealer or dealership fails to comply with licensing laws, leading to financial losses. Essentially, the bond ensures that consumers have a means of recovering their losses if the dealer or dealership engages in fraudulent or illegal activities.
DMV does not provide surety bonds; you must contact a surety insurance company and have them fill out the Dealer Bond Under NY State Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 415 (6-B) (pdf) (VS-3). Be sure that the business name and mailing address on your bond exactly matches those that show on your application.
The amount of the bond depends on the number of vehicles you anticipate selling (used motor vehicle dealers):
|Vehicles Sold in Calendar Year||Bond Amount|
|50 or fewer||$20,000|
|More than 50||$100,000|
|Franchised dealers selling cars, SUVs, light trucks, etc. Dealers selling only trailers, motorcycles, vehicles over 10,000 pounds, ATVs, boats, snowmobiles are exempt from the bond requirements.||$50,000|
Submit your Original Facility Application with the following documentation.
You must submit a hard copy of your application, associated documents, and fee to this address
Bureau of Consumer & Facility Services
P.O. Box 2700
Albany, NY 12220-0700
Once your application has been reviewed, it will be sent to a regional office for review. They will contact you to schedule an on-site investigation.
After you schedule a date for the automotive facilities inspector (AFI) to inspect your facility, take some time to prepare for this inspection because it will be important in determining whether your application is successful. They will be checking that you have the following items:
The AFI will also inspect your location to see if it has the following requirements:
If your application and the site inspection are approved, the DMV will issue you a certificate of registration, MV-50s (Retail Certificates of Sale) and a dealer plate letter (if applicable).
Congratulations on achieving your license! Now the real work begins. However, before diving into the next phase, take a moment to relax, revel in your accomplishments, and experience a sense of pride for all the hard work you've put in thus far.
|Non-refundable application fee||$37|
|Retail Certificate of Sale (Form VS-114I) Fee||$260|
After your application is processed in Albany, it will be forwarded to your local office for evaluation. The review process may take up to 4 weeks to complete.
Since the DMV does not provide official dealer signs, you may purchase these signs from various sign shops and automotive supply stores.
To maintain a valid New York auto dealer license, it is necessary to renew it every two years. The license renewal process can be completed either online or through mail. It is possible to initiate the renewal up to 60 days in advance or within six months after the expiration date. Alongside the license, the New York auto dealer bond also needs to be renewed if your bond is expiring.
You have the option to purchase a New York Auto Dealer Bond from any well-established surety broker that holds a valid license in the state of New York. The majority of surety bonds (>99% volume) are written through surety brokers. This is because surety brokers are able to compare price across various surety companies. When there are hundreds in the US alone, this comparison is invaluable.
To apply for a snowmobile dealer certificate, you must use the form Application for a Snowmobile Dealer Registration (pdf) (RV-253).