Auto dealers in Florida must obtain an auto dealer license to legally operate in the state. The licensing process is overseen by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV).
In this guide, we’ll outline the DHSMV licensing requirements and give you a step-by-step process for getting your Florida auto dealer license.
Determine what type of auto dealer license you need
The first step to getting your auto dealer license in Florida is to figure out what type of license you need.
The State of Florida offers the following license types:
- Franchise Dealer: This license allows dealers to sell new motor vehicles under an agreement with a manufacturer, importer, or distributor. Licensees are also allowed to sell used motor vehicles.
- Vehicle Independent Dealer: This license allows the dealer to buy, sell, and deal used motor vehicles.
- Vehicle Wholesale Dealer: This license allows the dealer to buy, sell, and deal motor vehicles at the wholesale level.
- Vehicle Auction Dealer: This license allows the dealer to auction motor and recreational vehicles to other dealers.
Satisfy all Florida dealer licensing requirements
Before you can apply for a dealer license, you must ensure you meet the following licensing requirements established by the Florida DHSMV.
Prepare your business location
Your dealership location must meet the following requirements:
- The building must be a permanent structure
- The dealership location cannot be a residential address
- The office must have 100 square feet of interior space, not counting restrooms, hallways, and closets.
When the location is ready, you’ll have to contact your regional office to have a compliance examiner inspect the location. If you are leasing the property, it is recommended that you do not finalize the lease until the location is approved.
You’ll need to provide proof of ownership or the original copy of your lease with your dealership application.
Register your business
You must register your car dealership business with the Division of Corporations at the Office of the Secretary of State.
Get liability insurance
Licensed auto dealers must provide proof of garage liability insurance with a minimum $25,000 combined single-limited liability coverage. This policy must include bodily injury and property damage protection. Dealers must also obtain $10,000 of personal injury protection.
Pre-licensing dealer training course
Dealers must complete a pre-licensing training course offered by a DHSMV approved training school. Upon completion of the course, you’ll receive a certificate that must be included with your application packet.
You can find a list of approved dealer training schools by visiting the DHSMV website.
Get your Florida auto dealer bond
Car dealers in Florida are required to post a $25,000 motor vehicle dealer bond to ensure that they comply with the requirements listed in the Florida Statutes. The surety bond also provides financial protection to the government and consumers, allowing them to receive financial compensation for any damages resulting from a violation of the statutes.
Licensed dealers are responsible for paying a percentage of the total bond amount upfront. This payment is referred to as a premium. The surety company issuing the bond determines your premium by evaluating your industry experience, credit score, financial history, and other factors.
Most Florida auto dealers pay a premium between 0.75% and 5% of the total bond amount.
Complete and submit your Florida dealer license application
Once you have met all the licensing requirements you can complete the dealer license application (form 86056). You’ll need to include the following documents with your application:
- Dealer training course certificate of completion
- Copy of electronic fingerprints
- Proof of ownership or copy of the lease for business location
- Copy of business registration and fictitious firm name registration (if applicable)
- Articles of Incorporation, Articles of Organization, and Operating Agreement (for LLCs and corporations)
- Proof of garage liability insurance
- Original Florida auto dealer surety bond form (86020)
Along with all required documents, you must include a $300 application fee payable to the DHSMV with your application. Mobile home and recreational vehicle dealers must pay a $340 fee.
After you’ve gathered all required materials you can send the application packet to your local Motor Vehicle Field Operations, Regional Office.
If your application is approved, the license will be mailed to you within one month.
Licenses are valid for a maximum 12-month period.
Franchise dealers must renew their license annually by December 31.
Licensed independent, wholesale, and auction dealers must renew their licenses annually by April 30.
You can complete the license renewal by submitting the Renewal Application form.
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