How to Get a Dealer License in Ohio

Long Video

How to Become a Licensed Ohio Used Motor Vehicle Dealer

1. Complete Dealer Application
You must complete an Ohio Used Motor Vehicle Dealer Application from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). You may download the form at The application must be completed correctly and in its entirety. Mistakes on your dealer application can cause significant delays in your licensing process. We will complete a Used Motor Vehicle
Dealer Application in the next section. R.C. 4517.02 & 4517.05

2. Electronic Fingerprinting
Before you receive your dealer license from the registrar of motor vehicles you must be electronically fingerprinted. Any person whose name has not been on an Ohio dealer license in the last 12 months must submit the electronic fingerprinting. Any owner or partner listed on the application must be electronically fingerprinted. You must request the fingerprinting location send an electronic copy to “BMV Dealer Licensing”. For a complete list of
ingerprinting locations in Ohio visit the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at  to find an electronic fingerprinting location near you. Some locations allow you to walk in but others required an appointment. The price varies depending on the location that conducts your fingerprinting. If you do not live in Ohio you must call the Dealer Licensing Section at 614-752-7636 to obtain your fingerprint card. Be sure to include
a copy of each owners fingerprint card in your dealer application packet.
R.C. 4517.05 A.C. 4501:1-3-07

3. BusinessBuilding
You must have a place of business to be used solely for the purpose of selling motor vehicles. It must be physically separated from any other business or residence with a barrier which cannot be moved.
You must have an office on the display lot/area that has at least 180 square feet. The office must be kept clean and organized. Your office must include, at minimum, a desk, three chairs, and one filing cabinet or similar furnishings to create an environment conducive to an office and facilitating the storage of records, all of which must be kept neat & orderly. The office must have adequate lighting, electrical service, heating, and ventilation that is safe for a retail office environment. The building must meet all building and zoning requirements. BMV Investigators may request documentation to ensure all zoning requirements have been met. Be sure   the office never becomes a storage area. You must also have a working landline or cellular telephone that is answered in the dealership name. Be sure to post the phone number prominently so your customers can see it. If you ever change your telephone number you must notify the registrar in writing. The BMV requires your business meet all local zoning requirements. Be sure to check your local zoning ordinances to ensure an automotive business is allowed at the location you have chosen for your
dealership. R.C. 4517.03 A.C. 4501:1-3-08

4. Display Lot
You must have a display lot that is at least 3500 square feet. The display lot can be on the exterior of the building or inside the building or acombination of both. This retail sales area must be kept separate from
any wholesale vehicles being held for resale. The display lot cannot be a driveway and must be a hard surface such as concrete or gravel. You cannot allow the accumulation of mud, dust, water, weeds, or unsightly
conditions on the display lot. Some local zoning ordinances may require a dealer display lot to be paved. The lot must meet all local zoning requirements. The display lot, like your building,
must be separated from any other business, repair shop, or residence with a physical barrier. A barrier is a fixture or feature of the property that distinguishes the display lot or area from residences or other
businesses, comprised of metal, brick, stone, concrete, wood, heavy support cable, landscaping, curbing, or other comparable feature that
creates a distinct space for the display lot. It shall clearly delineate a separation between a residence or an unrelated business and the beginning of the dealership's established place of business. Such separation shall be properly maintained during the entire period for which a used motor vehicle dealer's license is held. Separation from a repair facility is not required if it is owned by each person on the license.

Your lot and building must have easy access from the nearest roadway. No dealer shall use a remote service facility for selling, displaying, or offering for sale motor vehicles. Used dealers are only allowed to
display and sell motor vehicles at the licensed location. Offsite sales activity by used dealers is prohibited under Ohio laws. R.C. 4517.03 A.C.

5. Dealer Surety Bond
You must obtain a $25,000 dealer surety bond in order to obtain an Ohio Used Motor Vehicle Dealer's License. The surety bond must be posted with the Attorney General's office in favor of the State of Ohio. The
name on the surety bond must match exactly the name on file with the BMV and as registered with the Secretary of State.The surety bond is used for replenishing funds used to compensate retail purchasers of
motor vehicles. You must maintain your bond during entire licensure period and mail your original bond to:
Ohio Attorney General Consumer Protection Section
Attn: TDRF Unit Surety Bond
30 E Broad Street 14th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215

6. Business Sign
You will need a permanent business sign that is visible from the public roadway. The dealership name on the sign must be at least 6 inches or larger and must match the name as registered with the Secretary of State.
The sign can be mounted on the exterior of the business building or erected on the display area and if you have 2 signs at both signs must have 6 inch letters. Your sign must match the exact name of your dealership as it is listed on your dealer’s application. If you are including LLC or Inc on the business sign, those letters must be at least 6 inches as well. The sign must be permanent in nature and be clearly visible to the public. A banner is not an acceptable business sign nor are magnet boards or handmade cardboard signs. Laminate vinyl letters on a window are allowed as long as they are not easily removed. Most printing companies can produce a permanent business sign at minimal costs. Be sure the letters in the dealership name are at least 6 inches high and include the registered name & fictitious/trade name. A.C. 4501:1-3-0

7. Business Photographs
You must send photographs of your business. The photographs must include the display lot/area, the physical barrier showing separation, the inside & outside of the office, the sign with the registered business name,
including any registered fictitious or trade names, the posted business hours, the posted business telephone, and a view of the business from across the street. You can email the photographs to in
JPG format or enclose the photographs in your dealer application packet. If emailing the photos, be sure to include your dealership name and the name
of your county in the subject of the email. Failing to send the photographs can cause significant delays in the application process.

8. Business Hours
Business hours must be prominently displayed near the entrance to the office. You may post your business hours on the front of the building, on a window, or on the business sign. The dealership must be open and staffed during the posted hours of operation. During business hours the dealership must be staffed by an owner, partner, president of the corporation, member
of the LLC, trustee of a business trust, or a licensed salesperson. If the dealer ever changes the hours of operation the registrar must be notified in writing. Any customer must be able to view your vehicle inventory without an
appointment. A.C. 4501:1-3-08

9. Records
You must maintain records on all vehicles purchased, leased, and sold. Records must be stored either via paper or electronically for a period of at least 3 years. Federal mandates require some records be kept at least 5 years. You will review an entire section on exactly what records to keep later in the course. A.C. 4501:1-3-04

10. Net Worth
You must have a net worth of at least $75,000 to obtain an Ohio Used Motor Vehicle license. You must maintain the net worth during your entire
licensure period. The State of Ohio wants to ensure each dealer financially secure before
being issued a dealer’s license. If requested, you must provide documentation, such as a financial disclosure statement, to prove your net worth to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. This documentation would only be required upon request. A.C. 4501:1-3-11

11. Apply for Ohio Vendors Number
Before you apply for your dealer’s license you must have an Ohio Vendors number. This number will be necessary for you to report the sales tax you collect on the vehicles you sell. You can apply for an Ohio Vendor Number through the Ohio Business Gateway at  or you can apply for your Vendor Number through the County Auditor where your dealership is
located. We will cover the application for Vendors Number and collection of sales tax extensively later in the course. R.C. 4505.06

12. Register Business Names with Ohio Secretary of State
You must register your business name & fictitious or trade name with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office and include copies of each registration with your dealer application. Sole Proprietors & Partnerships are  excluded. The Ohio Secretary of State wants to have a record of every business that is operating the in the state. Registering your business with the Secretary of State is covered in greater detail later in the dealer
manual. For additional information on registering your business you may contact the Ohio Secretary of State at 614-466-2655.

13. I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification
The Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 is a U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services form. It is used by an employer to verify an employee's identity and to establish that the worker is eligible to accept
employment in the United States. You can find the form at You must complete this form and store a copy of the form at the dealership

14. Federal Employee Identification Number (FEIN)
Before mailing your dealer license application packet you must create a Federal Employee Identification Number which is also known as a Federa Tax ID Number or FEIN. This number is used to identify the new business you are starting and will be needed for tax purposes. Obtaining this number is a very quick and easy step that will only take a few minutes.
You can easily apply at  or directly at  and have your new Federal Employee Number in a matter of moments. After you have been assigned your FEIN be sure to include it on your dealer license
application. We will cover this process extensively later in the course.

15. Dealer Educational Class
Any person applying for an Ohio used motor vehicle dealer’s license that has not held a dealer license in the past 2 years are required to take 6 hour dealer educational course. You must attend the training within the 6 months prior to your application. You will receive a Certificate of Completion at the end of the class. Be sure to enclose the certificate in
your dealer application packet. R.C. 4517.05

16. Physical Lot Inspection
The BMV wants to make sure that you have met all of the physical requirements which includes the office building located on the display lot, desk, chairs, filing cabinet, lighting & heating, display lot, displayed telephone number and office hours, etc. Shortly after you receive your license, BMV Investigation personnel will inspect your lot. The BMV Investigator will normally contact you prior to the inspection. All
requirements must be met before applying for a dealer’s license. When you fill out an application for a used dealer’s license you must affirm that all requirements are met. Affirming and signing the application when requirements are not met is probable cause for a conviction of falsification.
No inspection will be conducted until all photos are received.

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