If you want to start a car dealership in Missouri, you'll need to complete steps to legally set up your dealership and then apply for the license that fits your dealership type. The state sets specific requirements for new, used, franchised and wholesale dealers and requires that all types of dealers have a permanent location inspected by law enforcement. You can obtain a car dealer license in Missouri through an online or printable application process, and you can expect to attach several supporting documents.
Meeting Missouri Dealer License Requirements
Before you can complete your application for an auto dealer license in Missouri, the state requires that you take these steps:
- Legal business setup: You'll need to apply through the Missouri Secretary of State for a business license and find a permanent location for your business. The state also has specific requirements for your location, such as having a working phone, visible sign and public display area for cars, and being open a minimum of 20 business hours during typical times (at least on four days and must be closed on Sundays).
- Auto dealer bond and liability insurance: You'll need to post a surety bond of $50,000 or obtain an irrevocable letter of credit for the same amount. The amount you'll pay toward the bond depends on your financial situation and is often a maximum of 5 percent according to Lance Surety Bond Associates, Inc. Also, obtain sufficient garage liability insurance for your dealership.
- Inspection by law enforcement: Depending on your location, you'll either need an authorized law enforcement officer in your city or a Missouri Highway Patrol officer to come inspect that your dealership meets the state requirements and certify you for the application form.
- Criminal background check: The Missouri State Highway Patrol website has an automated background check you can complete or you can download a form there if you prefer mailing one in. You'll pay $14 for each person you're putting on the application and will need to present the results with your application.
- Completion of dealer education seminar (for used car dealers): Unless you've completed the training in the past, you'll need to complete a state-approved auto dealer education seminar and earn a certificate if you'll run a used car dealership. Other new car dealers may take the class optionally.
- Franchise agreement (for franchised dealers): If you're applying as a franchised dealer, you'll need to get a written franchise agreement for the car brands you'll sell.
Completing the Dealer License Application
After you've met the car dealer requirements in Missouri, you can head to the Missouri Department of Motor Vehicles website to fill out an online or printable application for your dealer license. You'll find the application options through the "Motor Vehicle Services" link on the homepage, which will take you to a page showing an option to apply for a new business license.
The exact questions can vary slightly depending on the type of dealer license, but some common requests you might see include:
- Registered business name, business structure, relevant tax ID numbers and address.
- The applicant's contact information.
- Type of license you're seeking (such as used car, wholesale or franchise dealer) and types of vehicles you'll sell.
- Intended operating hours.
- The physical address for the dealership.
- Personal information for each owner.
- Estimated vehicle sales (used to get you some plates for vehicles).
- Bond or credit letter details.
- Franchise information and trade names (if required).
- Documents attached for the background check, franchise agreement, seminar certificate (if needed), photograph of the dealership and inspection.
Submitting Your Dealer License Application
If you used the online application, you can upload the documents needed, pay the calculated fees ($150 a year plus additional fees for plates needed) and submit the application right away. Otherwise, you'll print your filled application, include all supporting documents, write a check or money order for the fees and mail your packet to the following address: Motor Vehicle Bureau Dealer Licensing Section, P.O. Box 43, 301 West High, Room 370, Jefferson City, MO 65105.
- Lance Surety Bond Associates, Inc.: How to Get a Missouri Dealer License [2020 Guide]
- Missouri Department of Revenue: Missouri Dealer Operating Manual
- Missouri Department of Revenue: Form 4682
- Missouri State Highway Patrol: Criminal Record Check
- Missouri Department of Revenue: Application for a New Missouri Dealer License
- You must renew your car dealer license annually in Missouri. To qualify for renewal, you must sell at least six vehicles annually.
Ashley Donohoe started writing professionally about business topics in 2010. Having eight years experience running all aspects of her small business, she is knowledgeable about the daily issues and decisions that business owners face. She also has earned a Master of Business Administration degree with a leadership and strategy concentration from Western Governors University. Some other places featuring her business writing include JobHero, LoveToKnow, PocketSense, Chron and Study.com.