Generally, you must get a Pennsylvania dealer license if you wish to sell 5 or more vehicles in one calendar year. If you are selling less than 5 vehicles a year, those vehicles must be titled in your name, owned by you, and used primarily for personal, business, or household use.
Not sure if you need to get a dealer license? Check out this post on selling cars without a license.
How to get a Pennsylvania Car Dealer License
Step #1: Establish a Place of Business
Your location will need to include:
- A permanent office next to a surfaced display area
- Display area big enough to display at least 5 vehicles separate from parking area
- A phone, desk, and lockable file cabinet in the office
- Permanent sign that displays the licensed name and operating hours of the dealership
Your business location must be a complete and separate entity from any other business or residence.
You will need to provide a Certificate of Occupancy issued by the Department of Labor and Industry or a copy of the letter of compliance or use occupancy permit from the city in which your business is located. You will also need to provide zoning documentation for your local municipality that your business meets all zoning requirements.
Step #2: Complete Application
You can apply for your license using Pennsylvania’s new application system PALS.
If you are doing business as a business entity (a partnership or corporation) you will also need to complete a Salesperson Initial License Application. If you are doing business as a sole proprietor, you do not need to complete the Salesperson License Application.
Worried about a felony on your record? Check out “Can I Get a Dealer License with a Felony?”
Step #3: Complete other license requirements
Other license requirements include:
- Franchise agreement (only required if selling new vehicles)
- Fictitious Name Registration if you are doing business under a fictitious name
- Hand-drawn diagram of 8.5 x 11″ paper showing the location of customer parking and dimensions of all buildings.
- Lease or deed showing that your property has been rented for a minimum of 6 months
- Photos showing your business location
- Resumes for each owner, partner, officer, and member of the dealership
- Telephone bill verifying installation of a landline telephone
For a complete list of application requirements, click on the “Application Checklist” in the top right corner of the PALS website.
Step #4: Purchase a Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Dealer Bond
Not sure how to get an Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Dealer Bond? Use this interactive tool to help you out.
A Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Dealer Bond is a type of surety bond that protects your customers from fraud or dishonest acts that might occur during a business transaction.
In the state of Pennsylvania, the bond amounts are as follows:
- Manufacturer/Dealer: $20,000
- Messenger Service: $50,000
- Full agent: $30,000
- Salvor: $10,000
- Card Agent: $3,000
You will not pay the entire bond amount! The amount you will pay for your PA Motor Vehicle Dealer Bond is dependent on many factors, one of which is your credit score. If you have an outstanding credit score, you could get your Pennsylvania car dealer bond for as low as $180 to $200/year.
Step #5: Mail Application
When you have completed the above paperwork and obtained your Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Dealer Bond, call the Pennsylvania Vehicles Board at 717-783-1697.
They will confirm that you have all the necessary documents to get your PA Dealer License.
Once confirmed, mail all your documents, forms, and $65 application fee to the address below. The fee is non-refundable.
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
State Board of Vehicle Manufacturers
Dealers and Salespersons
P.O. Box 2649
Harrisburg, PA 17105
Step #5: Pass Inspection
After you submit your documents and they are approved by the Vehicle Board, a Vehicle Board agent will come and inspect your dealership.
If your dealership is not approved, you will have to pay a $45 reinspection fee.
If your dealership is approved, you will be issued a temporary authorization allowing you to open your dealership doors. Your PA car dealer license and Dealership Identification Number (DIN) will be mailed to you during this time. Expect to receive them in the mail within four weeks.
At this point, you may also need to apply to receive your dealer plates.
License Expiration and Renewal
PA Car Dealer Licenses expire May 31st of every odd-numbered year.
The Vehicle Board mails renewal notices two to three months prior to the license expiration date.
Pennsylvania Dealer Licenses may be renewed online at www.mylicense.state.pa.us. When renewing online, be sure to have your registration code and payment card handy.
You can also renew by paper using the documents below:
- Vehicle Salesperson and Representative
- Dealership, Vehicle Distributor, Auction, Manufacturer, and Dealership Branch
Renewal fees for a salesperson or representative are $90 and for a dealership, it is $175.
Reactivation fee for an expired license is $240.