The Departments of Motor Vehicles of a significant number of states, including California and Pennsylvania, outsource certain functions ordinarily performed centrally though the DMV. Among these functions are vehicle registration, license-plate distribution, safety inspections and smog checks. Contracting with your state or local government to operate a DMV business is a demanding process, often governed by extensive regulatory requirements. Contact your DMV for their specific contractor requirements, as they vary from state to state.

Opening a DMV Business

1. Create Your Business Structure and Acquire Capital

Draft all necessary business documents and acquire capital. Check your state's incorporation statutes for the documents you must submit to the Secretary of State to form a corporation. This will probably include, at a minimum, the articles of incorporation and a business plan. An attorney specializing in small business practice can assist you with this.

Additionally, you must acquire the capital necessary to establish the business. Through existing funds, loans and/or investments, begin to acquire leasing space for your principal place of business and any equipment you may need. Note that your physical location will need to be within the borders of the state with which you wish to contract.

2. Submit an Application and Applicable Fees

Submit application and fee or bid to the proper state authority. In Pennsylvania, for example, the application costs approximately $75 to submit. Your application will specify whether you wish to operate as an agent or a messenger, each of which comes with varying rights, responsibilities and duties. Check with the Secretary of State for more details.

3. Submit to a Criminal Background Check

Submit to a criminal background check. You and all employees who perform DMV services will be required to undergo a thorough criminal background investigation, including fingerprinting and reference checks. Depending on your state's laws, you may be required to submit to a background check periodically throughout your term as a DMV business owner.

4. Submit Notary Bonds for all Employees

Submit notary bonds for all employees. You and all employees of your business will be required to register as public notaries to authenticate all transactions. The notary bond is insurance for the state in the event that a notary betrays her oath and the public trust. Bonds may be renewed after expiration, which typically occurs every four years.

5. Find a Good Business Location

Locate your business in a safe and accessible location. The physical location for your business should be within state borders of the DMV with which you contract; it should be secure from crime, and accessible to customers and inspectors.

DMV tags, plates and other official documents should be stored under lock and key, preferably in a safe or vault. Employees must not retrieve these items unless they acknowledge so on a sign-in sheet. The office must be reachable by at least one land-line telephone and fax machine, and it must house at least one copy machine. It is also advisable to find a location that is near major roads or highways, primarily to increase traffic flow into your business.

Things You Will Need
  • Your state's DMV statutes and regulations

  • Physical address

  • Articles of incorporation and/or business license

  • State DMV application and fee


Develop good relationships with managers and employees of the local DMV. They will be more likely to refer business to you.


Always operate your business aboveboard. Shady accounting or mismanagement of DMV property will result in the permanent revocation of your license.