The Full South Carolina Dealer License Guide [2024]

Published: May 26, 2021
north carolina dealer license


Do you wish to launch an auto dealership in South Carolina? You’ll need a South Carolina dealer license to start your operations in the state.

The license type that you can obtain from the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) are:

  • Motor Vehicle Dealer
  • Wholesale Dealer
  • Wholesale Auction
  • Motorcycle Dealer
  • Motorcycle Wholesaler
  • Recreational Vehicle Dealer 

You can find out how to get your South Carolina auto dealer license in the sections below. 

1. The South Carolina Dealer License Requirements

You’ll have to meet all the requirements set by the SCDMV for your license type.

Business and Tax Registration

You’ll first need to register a business entity. This is usually done with your city or country authorities. 

You’ll have to attach the registration documents to your application. It may be a business license, zoning permit, business registration, or a letter from the city or county authorities that you don’t need such a document. 

You’ll need other registrations as well, including:

  • Retail License from the SC Department of Revenue (for all retail license types) 
  • Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Established Place of Business

You’ll need to provide a hand drawn or computer-generated diagram of your physical location, including: 

  • Structure/layout of the building and lot
  • Display area of the vehicles
  • Office space

All retail dealers have to request a courtesy pre-inspection of their business location

Criminal Background Check

You’ll have to apply for and obtain The National Criminal Report, which is a dealer licensing background screening. 

Non-Franchise Dealers Pre-Licensing Course

Non-franchise dealers have to pass an 8-hour pre-licensing course

2. Complete the South Carolina Dealer License Application

After you have gathered all the necessary documents, you’ll have to complete your application with the SCDMV. 

South Carolina License Application Forms

Fill out the Application for a Dealer or Wholesaler License (SCDMV Form DLA-1).

You’ll also have to complete the Affidavit of Eligibility (SCDMV Form AD-808A) for each owner owning 10% or more of the business

Licensing Fees

The fees you’ll need to cover are the following: 

  • Dealer licensing background screen - $34.05
  • License fee - $50

The SCDMV doesn’t require application fees. 

3. Provide a Surety Bond and Insurance Policy

You’ll need a South Carolina auto dealer bond to complete your licensing process. It ensures your compliance with all relevant laws, including Title 56, Chapter 14 of the South Carolina Code of Laws

The bond amounts are:

  • Motor Vehicle, Wholesale or Recreational Vehicle Dealer - $30,000
  • Wholesale Auction, Motorcycle Dealer and Motorcycle Wholesaler - $15,000

The SCDMV mandates that, starting January 1, 2024, licensees update the amounts of their surety bonds to the new values below:

  • Motor Vehicle, Wholesale or Recreational Vehicle Dealer - $50,000
  • Wholesale Auction, Motorcycle Dealer and Motorcycle Wholesaler - $25,000

Should you fail to increase the amount of your surety bond by then, your dealer license will expire.

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If you’re applying for dealer demonstration plates, you’ll also have to provide a Certificate of Liability/Garage Insurance.

4. Submit and Receive Your South Carolina Dealer License

When you submit your application, the SCDMV will review it. Then you will get a business location inspection that will check your place of business, signs, and records.  

You can check your dealer license online

5. Conclusion

Your license is active for 12 months. You’ll have to renew it to continue your operations. Keep in mind that your license is not transferable and can be used only by you and only for the licensed location. 

Do you need more details about the South Carolina motor vehicle dealer license and bonding? You can post your questions in the comments below! 

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