If you plan on selling more than 4 vehicles a year, then you’ll need to get a Rhode Island Dealer License. Rhode Island Dealer Licenses are issued by the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles.
Not sure if you need to get licensed? Check out this post on selling cars without a license.
Short on time? Check out our Car Dealer License FAQ.
How to get a Rhode Island Car Dealer License
Step #1: Establish place of business
The requirements for your dealership location are as follows:
- Place of business that is at least 2,400 square feet of enclosed floor space (or 1,200 square feet if selling motorcycle or scooters only)
- Business must also have 2,400 square feet of outdoor lot space
- Business sign that is at least 24 square feet in size
- On-site repair services at business location
- Working business telephone
Step #2: Get dealership name approved
Get dealership name approved by Rhode Island Dealer’s License & Hearing Office. Office is located at the Cranston DMV location.
Used car dealers must include “Auto Sales” in their name.
You must get your name approved by the Department before submitting your licensing application.
Step #3: Complete Application
Complete Rhode Island’s Application for Dealership/Renewal/Annex/Transfer.
The license application packet will include:
- Financial statement and approved line of credit for $50,000
- Criminal background check for each owner, partner, or corporate office
- Notarized copy of lease agreement – if you rent your dealership location premises
- Copy of the deed – if you own the premises
- Letters of intent – if you are applying to be a franchise dealer
- Letters of zoning approval
- 4 photos of your dealership building showing all sides of the building and the display lot
- Articles of incorporation – if you are a corporation
Nervous about a previous felony? Check out this post on “Getting a Dealer License With a Felony”
Step #4: Purchase Rhode Island Motor Vehicle Dealer Bond
A Rhode Island Motor Vehicle Dealer Bond is a type of surety bond. This bond protects your customers. If you fail to deal vehicles ethically, someone can make a claim against your bond.
Not sure how to get a Rhode Island Auto Dealer Bond? Use this interactive tool to help you out.
The bond amount is set at $50,000. You won’t have to pay the full bond amount to get bonded.
The price you pay for your bond will be between $500-$7,500. This is a one-time payment, not monthly.
Nervous about paying for your bond? We can help you finance.
See what you’d pay for a bond by getting a free quote:
Get a free Rhode Island Dealer Bond quote
Step #5: Submit Paperwork
Submit all the above to the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles Hearing Board. Your paperwork will then be evaluated by the hearing board.
If they approve your paperwork, you have 30 days to give them the following information before you can receive your Rhode Island Dealer License.
- Call the Licensing Aide (401) 462-5732 to request license and plate numbers that have been assigned
- A photo of your dealership sign, displaying your dealership name
- Your business telephone number
- Proof of dealer plates insurance coverage
- A $301.50 fee made payable by check or money order to the Dealer’s License & Regulation Office
- Dealer Agreement – if you are a franchise dealer
After your requirements are completed, a Licensing Aide will contact you (or you can contact them at 462-5732) to make an appointment to finalize.
Other Licensing Resources
- Check out the State of Rhode Island Rules and Regulations Regarding Dealers
- Or the State of Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles
License Expiration and Renewal
Rhode Island Dealer Licenses are valid for one year. All licenses expire on December 31st, but October 31st is the deadline to submit renewal applications.
For more information on renewal view the Rhode Island Renewal Application.
Your license can be suspended or revoked if you are found guilty of violating a customer’s trust. To see actions that would warrant grounds for denial, suspension, or revocation of your license, click here.
View our FREE EBOOK: “The Ultimate Guide To Car Dealer Licensing”
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