How to Get a Used Car Dealer License in South Carolina

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You need a dealer's license to buy and sell cars in South Carolina.
You need a dealer's license to buy and sell cars in South Carolina. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

The American public loves to save money. Buying a car used instead of new helps consumers avoid the 20 percent drop in value a new car suffers as soon as the buyer drives it off the lot. In addition, used vehicles are often thousands of dollars cheaper than their brand new counterparts. Consumers who want to take advantage of these savings need a used car dealer to help them locate the right car at an affordable price.

Used car dealers have access to wholesale auctions not open to the public. They buy bank repossessions, dealer trade-ins, government service vehicles and other late-model automobiles at dealer auctions around the country and then sell the cars to buyers on the open market for a profit. You must have a dealer license to buy and sell cars for a living in South Carolina.

Things You'll Need

  • $30,000 surety bond
  • Form DLA-1

Contact the Carolina Independent Automobile Dealers’ Association and sign up for the used car dealer prelicensing course. The course lasts a day and a half and costs $425. You must take the prelicensing course before the state will approve your license application.

Buy a $30,000 surety bond for your dealership. A $30,000 bond is the minimum bond used car dealers in South Carolina are required to carry.

Download and print Form DLA-1 from the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles’ website. Fill out the form.

Mail the form and evidence of your $30,000 surety bond to:

South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles Dealer Licensing and Audit Unit P.O. Box 1498 Blytheville, South Carolina 29016-0023

Schedule a business inspection when the DMV contacts you after processing your application. A DMW representative will then inspect your business location to ensure that you have a nonresidential office, a display lot and a sign clearly advertising your business as a car dealership. When you pass the inspection, the DMW will issue you a used car dealer’s license.

Tips & Warnings

  • You must renew your dealer’s license every 12 months.
  • If you cannot print the online used car dealer application, visit your local DMV office and request a copy of form DLA-1.
  • If you have questions, call the DMV at 803-896-2611.
  • You can change the company that provides your business’ surety bond at any time. If you do so, however, you must notify the DMV of the change and provide proof of the new surety bond.
  • It’s illegal to buy and sell cars as a business without a dealer’s license. Penalties range from fines up to $1,000 to up to two years in prison.

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