Step 1: Determine your auto dealer license type.
The Missouri Department of Revenue Motor Vehicle Bureau issues car dealer licenses for businesses to be able to legally sell new or used vehicles. The most common auto dealer licenses are the following.
- Motor Vehicle Dealer: All dealers who sell new vehicles; this may include recreational vehicle (RV) and powersport dealers, but dealers have to obtain special plates for these makes.
- Franchise New Motor Vehicle Dealer: New auto dealers who are under a franchise agreement to sell a specific make of vehicle.
- Wholesale Motor Vehicle Dealer: Auto dealers who sell vehicles wholesale to other businesses.
- Used Motor Vehicle Dealer: Dealers who sell any makes of used vehicles.
You can see the full list of auto dealer license types on page 8 of the Missouri Dealer and Business Operating Manual.
Step 2: Complete a dealer education program.
If you are applying for a used vehicle dealer license for the first time, Senate Bill 747 of Missouri states applicants must complete a state-approved dealer education program. Proof of attendance by the applicant must be provided within the licensure application packet. Dealers can register for the program here. Wholesale dealers are not required to complete the dealer education program.
The following dealer types are exempt from the requirement.
- Used motor vehicle dealers licensed prior to August 28, 2006
- New motor vehicle franchise dealers
- New franchise powersport dealers
- Wholesale dealers
- Wholesale and retail auto auctions
A Dealer Educational Seminar will include the dealer licensing requirements of Sections 301.550 to 301.573 RSMo. If you are required to attend a Dealer Educational Seminar, you must attend an approved seminar within 12 months of applying for a dealer license. A certificate of completion will be given by the seminar provider under the dealership name at the end of the session. This certificate of completion must be attached to the application packet for licensure and number plates(s) (Form 4682) when submitted.
Step 3: Register your dealership with the Missouri Secretary of State.
Missouri law requires auto dealers to register their business and business name with the Secretary of State’s Business Services Division. You can register your business name with the Missouri Secretary of State by visiting the website here or calling (573)751-3827. A copy of this registration is not required to be submitted with your dealer application.
The registered business should match the name listed on the surety bond or the title transaction will be rejected by the State.
NOTE: Business name registration with the Missouri Secretary of State costs $7.
Step 4: Finalize your permanent business location.
All Missouri auto dealers must have a place of business used for the sole purpose of selling vehicles under your specific business type. Your business location must meet the following requirements.
- Be a permanently enclosed building
- Contain space to store all records
- Have a working telephone landline that the public can call
- Have a display area, which cannot be a public street, to display multiple motor vehicles and remain visible from the nearest street
- Be open at least 20 hours per week between the hours of 6 am to 10 pm and have the hours of operation posted at the front entrance to the building
- Missouri laws prohibit most auto dealers to operate on Sundays. The exception is motorcycle dealers, which are allowed to be open on Sundays; however, if these businesses also sell cars and trucks, they must remain closed to abide by state law.
- Include proper signage that:
- Contains the name of the business as it’s publicly known
- Has letters at least 6 inches in height
- Is able to endure most weather conditions
NOTE: Vehicle auction dealers must display 2 additional 2 x 6 ft. signs that read “Attention Buyers: Vehicles sold at this auction may not have had a safety inspection.”
Step 5: Complete your criminal background check.
You're required, prior to applying, to schedule and undergo a criminal background check. You can complete the online form on the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Missouri Automated Criminal History website (MACHS criminal history search). You must include a printout of your results with your application.
You'll pay a $13 fee for each name, so have payment on hand when completing your online form. You can find more information about the criminal background check for auto dealers on page 18 of the Missouri Dealer and Business Operating Manual.
Step 6: Obtain your franchise agreement, if applicable.
Franchise dealers must obtain a written statement from the franchisor stating that they have permission to sell new vehicles. A “Manufacturer’s Certification of a Dealer” is only accepted for franchise authorization if the franchise agreement is on file with the Dealer Licensing Section. A manufacturer’s certification of a dealer is similar to possessing a title; however, if you purchased a new vehicle from a new-car dealer, you will have an MSO instead of a title.
A manufacturer’s letter of intent will not qualify as proof of franchise. A dealer wanting to sell new vehicles who does not have a franchise agreement will have to apply for a title in the dealership’s name.
This step is not necessary for first-time dealers who are applying with a dealership type such as used, wholesale, or general.
This document will require the following information.
- Full name
- Address of the franchisee
- Effective date of the franchise agreement
- Expiration date
- Make(s) of the vehicle(s) authorized to sell
In the event that the franchise agreement is canceled, the document must provide notification to the Department at least 30 days before the cancellation date.
Step 7: Purchase garage liability insurance.
Missouri Statute Section 397.201 states that motor vehicle dealers must have a motor vehicle liability insurance policy in place to ensure that their company party is primarily responsible for damage. All vehicles with dealer plates must be covered. This insurance covers bodily injuries endured by non-employees in the course of daily operations, including during test drives of customer-owned vehicles.
You can add additional coverage to a garage liability policy to extend insurance to customers’ vehicles while they are in your custody, care, and control. Damage to or loss of a customer’s vehicle is covered if said event to the car was caused by one of the following.
- An employee’s negligence or error
- Faulty parts
- Severe weather (e.g., hailstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes)
- Natural disaster (e.g., floods, earthquakes, fires)
- Theft or vandalism
The cost of garage liability insurance depends on certain choices made by the business owner:
- The specific coverages included in the policy
- The deductible chosen when the policy is purchased
- The coverage limits (i.e., the maximum amount the insurance company will pay on a single claim)
In most cases, the annual premium for garage liability insurance will be in the range of $300 to $2,000.
Step 8: Purchase and file your Missouri auto dealer surety bond.
Under Missouri House Bill 1963 effective August 28, 2020, Missouri auto dealers must file a $50,000 surety bond amount. Dealers authorized to deliver delayed vehicle ownership title certificates within 30 days will need a $100,000 bond amount.
You can apply for your Missouri motor vehicle dealer bond online 24/7 or call 1(800)308-4358 to speak with a surety expert about your bonding needs. Annual premiums start at $250 and are determined after a quick application review.
By filing this surety bond, you agree to follow state laws when operating as an auto dealer, which protects the state DMV as well as your customers. You must be bonded for the entire licensure year/calendar year.
Step 9: Get a business location inspection and certification.
Before your application is approved, an authorized law enforcement officer or designee will need to complete an inspection of your building premises and certify it has met all the requirements for licensure by completing Section 13 of Form 4682. They will need to fill out Form 5748.
For the counties of Boone, Buchanan, Camden, Cape Girardeau, Clay, Cole, Franklin, Greene, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Platte, St. Charles, or Taney, you will need to arrange the appointment with a local or state police officer. For locations in St. Louis County or St. Louis City, you will need to have your lot inspected by the Department of Transportation and Public Works. For all other counties not listed, you should contact the Missouri Highway Patrol to schedule a time for inspection.
Step 10: Submit your application packet.
To obtain motor vehicle dealer licensure, you must fill out the form available online with the Missouri Department of Revenue.
The application requires the following information or documents to be submitted.
- Birthdates, Social Security numbers, full names, and addresses of owners
- Classification of the type of operation and units sold
- Number of license plates requested
- Payment of appropriate fees
- Franchise trade name information and form signed
- Business Photograph: include your display lot, building(s), and sign
- Business Inspection and Certification Form, signed
- Background Check
- Financial Responsibility: This document ensures you'll uphold liability insurance on all motor vehicles you own in the display lot or have licensed.
- Dealer Plates
To complete the form application online, you must begin by creating a MyDmv login. If you chose to fill out a physical application form, you must submit the application and all required items to the following address.
Dealer Licensing Section
P.O. Box 43
Jefferson City, MO 65105-0043
What are the Missouri auto dealer license fees, and how do I pay them?
The list of the following fees can be made payable to the Missouri Department of Revenue by money order or check. Each separate license fee is mandatory each year. You can learn more details about detailed fees on page 24 of the Missouri Dealer and Business Operating Manual.
- License Fee: $150
- First 4 Dealer Plates: $50
- Each Additional Plate: $10.50
Mail a check or money order payable to the Missouri Department of Revenue.
Motor Vehicle Bureau Dealer Licensing Section
P.O. Box 43
Jefferson City, MO 65105-0043
The motor vehicle dealer license expires every year on December 31 and must be renewed before its expiration date to continue operations without interruption. There are no grace periods given for late renewals. You can renew your license online through the Missouri Department of Revenue, Motor Vehicle Bureau, Business Licensing Portal.
The licensing period for auto dealers runs from January 1 to December 31. You must renew your license every year. You have to submit your renewal application before October 30 to avoid a $25 penalty. If you send it after December 31, the penalty is $50.
For a full list of requirements, visit the Missouri Dealer and Business Operating Manual.