How to Get a Car Dealer’s License in Indiana Without a Lot

Category: Auto Dealers News
Published: Mar 12, 2024


A vehicle dealer's license is an official authorization granted by the state or relevant licensing authority that allows an individual or a business to engage in buying and selling vehicles. Commonly, car dealers are required by law to practice their business from a lot that is accessible to the public, however, there are exceptions to this rule, and below we cover the different types of dealer licenses, the process in obtaining one, and the alternatives to securing a lot. Read on to learn more.

As industry leaders within the surety bond sector, Lance Surety Bonds is here to provide answers to the questions you have on everything relating to bonding requirements and licensing. One of the questions we’re frequently asked is whether it is possible to get a car dealer’s license without renting or owning a lot. The good news is that you can do this, and we’re here to explain how it is possible in Indiana.

Does Obtaining a Dealer's License in Indiana Require a Car Lot? 

Currently, there are nine states in the U.S where a car lot or customer-facing business location are not required as part of the licensing process. These are:

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Georgia
  • Kansas
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • Vermont
  • Washington

However, if you wish to become a licensed dealer outside of those states, in Indiana for example, then there are options available to you if you wish to sell vehicles without a lot. Generally speaking, for dealers who wish to act as a retailer to the public, obtaining a car lot is a requirement of the licensing process. Nevertheless, if you wish to sell vehicles wholesale or act as a vehicle broker, then you will not require a car lot since you will not be selling to the public.

You can learn more about wholesale dealer licenses here, as well as find general information on Indiana auto dealer licenses in our guide. Additionally, you can obtain more information with the Indiana Secretary of State’s Auto Dealer Services Division.

Common Types of Dealer Licenses

Understanding the various different auto dealer license types is your first step to operating a car dealership with or without a license. Below, we cover some of the most common dealer licenses currently available within the US.

  • New Car Dealer License — This license is for dealerships that exclusively sell new vehicles, allowing businesses to retail brand-new cars from manufacturers.
  • Used Car Dealer License — This type of license is for businesses that focus on selling pre-owned vehicles. It does not require a lot.
  • Wholesaler Motor Vehicle Dealer License — For dealers who primarily sell vehicles to other dealers rather than directly to consumers.
  • Recreational Vehicle (RV) Dealer License — For dealerships specializing in recreational vehicles such as motorhomes, travel trailers, and campers, an RV dealer license is necessary. This license allows the sale of these specialized types of vehicles.
  • Motorcycle Dealer License — For businesses exclusively involved in selling motorcycles. It covers the sale of both new and used motorcycles.
  • Broker License — This license allows individuals or businesses to facilitate vehicle transactions between buyers and sellers without directly taking ownership of the vehicles. Brokers typically earn a fee for their services. It does not require a lot.

For more information on the difference between a new and a used vehicle dealer license, read the definitions set by the Indiana Secretary of State.

Process For Obtaining Your Dealer's License

The dealer’s license application in Indiana depends on the type of license required, however, you can follow these general steps in order to begin your application.

  1. Choose License — Identify the specific type of dealer license for your business, whether it's a new car dealer license, used car dealer license, wholesaler license, or another specialized type.
  2. Meet License Requirements — Check and fulfill any prerequisites set by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) or the relevant licensing authority. Prerequisites may include age requirements, background checks, and financial stability assessments.
  3. Secure an Auto Dealer Bond — Begin your surety bond application with our free bond quote form. The bond will serve as financial assurance that you will comply with state law and fulfill your obligations. The bond amount will vary depending on the type of license you require, however, you can explore our comprehensive range of Indiana auto dealer bonds here.
  4. Submit Application — Collect all required documents and submit your application. This may include proof of identity, business entity documents, financial statements, bond certificate, and other documents detailed by the licensing authority.
  5. Pay the License Fee — Fees will vary based on the type of license and other factors. Avoid delays in processing your application by paying on submission.
  6. Renewals — Dealer licenses usually have expiration dates, and you must be aware of the renewal process and deadlines to ensure continuous compliance with state regulations.

What Are The Alternatives to Not Owning a Lot?

The bottom line is, if you want to sell vehicles without owning or renting a place of business in Indiana, then you should look into becoming a wholesale dealer or a vehicle broker. Both of these options allow you to sell a range of vehicles without the need for location requirements such as customer parking, display areas, or physical car lots.

For more information on securing a wholesale dealer and auto broker bond, contact a member of the team today and explore our resources for detailed information on bond requirements.

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About Lance Surety Bonds

Lance Surety Bond Associates, Inc. is a surety bond agency based out of southeastern Pennsylvania that is able to write all surety bond types in all 50 states. We are dedicated to servicing all of our customers' surety bonding needs throughout the country and guarantee competitive rates, timely responses, and unparalleled customer service.

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