How to Get a South Carolina Dealer License

Published: Aug 7, 2018
sc dealer license

 

If starting a dealership in South Carolina is on your mind, read on for all the details you’d need to launch your business.

**NEW:** Download our FREE e-book guide containing comprehensive information on how to start your own dealership, from getting licensed and bonded to securing financing and cars for your lot!

The first step you have to take is to get a SC dealer license from the state DMV. This is the only way to operate legally in South Carolina. You would need to meet a range of licensing requirements, including obtaining a SC auto dealer bond.

The license types

The SC Department of Motor Vehicles regulates the activities of auto dealers in the state. It has established the license types for which you can apply, which give you the right to sell different types of vehicles.

  • Motor vehicle dealer license – allows you to sell retail or wholesale vehicles; you need it if you sell more than five vehicles per year
  • SC wholesale dealer license – you can sell only to licensed motor vehicle dealers or wholesalers, and not to the public; needed for selling more than five vehicles per year
  • Motor vehicle wholesale auction license – allows you to conduct auctions
  • Motorcycle dealer license – needed for selling retail or wholesale motorcycles (more than five per year)
  • Motorcycle wholesaler license – you can sell only to licensed motorcycle dealers or wholesalers
  • Recreational vehicle dealer license – if you sell more than five RVs per year, you need this license

All license types are valid for one year. You have to undergo the SC dealer license renewal annually in order to ensure your legal compliance. Operating without a license results in fines, and can even be considered a misdemeanor.

SC dealer’s license requirements

There are slight variations between the criteria that applicants for the different license types have to meet. However, there are a number of requirements that apply to all:

  • Completed application form for the respective license type
  • Affidavit of Eligibility (SCDMV Form AD-808A) for each owner with 10% or more of the business
  • S2Verify National Criminal Search document for each owner with more than 10% of the business
  • Compliance documents that show you meet county and city requirements, such as zoning permit, business license, and business registration, among others
  • Business location documents
  • Motor vehicle dealers have to submit a copy of their Retail License from the Department of Revenue
  • A pre-licensing course certificate (if you are required to have it for the license type you want)
  • A surety bond in the appropriate amount required for your license type
  • A licensing fee of $50

Getting your dealer bond

One of the requirements all types of dealers in SC have to meet is posting a surety bond. It is a security instrument that guarantees your legal compliance. It protects your customers and the state against potential illegal actions on your side.

The required bond amounts differ between the license classifications:

  • Motor vehicle dealers, wholesalers, and RV dealers have to post a $30,000 dealer bond
  • Wholesale auction, motorcycle dealer, and motorcycle wholesalers need to present a $15,000 surety bond

The bond price that you have to cover to get bonded is only a fraction of the required amount. It is called the bond premium and is often between 1% and 3% for dealers with solid finances. The exact cost is formulated after a careful consideration of your personal credit score, business finances, and other assets or liquidity available. The less bonding risk you pose, the cheaper your bond price is likely to be.


Still have questions about getting a SC dealer license and bonding? Don’t hesitate to contact us at 877.514.5146.

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Victor Lance is the founder and president of Lance Surety Bond Associates, Inc. He began his career as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving two combat tours. As president of Lance Surety, he now focuses on educating and assisting small businesses throughout the country with various license and bond requirements. Victor graduated from Villanova University with a degree in Business Administration and holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.

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