Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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Retail dealer license

Dealer license plate
Dealer license plate

Anyone who sells, leases, offers or negotiates sales or leases of motor vehicles in Wisconsin must have a Wisconsin dealer license. (Individuals can sell up to five of their own vehicles each year without a dealer license.)

If you sell or lease vehicles to the general public, you need a retail dealer license. If you sell vehicles to other licensed dealers only, you need a Wholesale dealer license.

To qualify for a retail dealer license you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • A permanent business location—not a residence—with office space, a 12x20-foot indoor vehicle display area and an adjacent display lot. Note: If you are selling only motorcycles, display area need only be large enough to display or repair three motorcycles.
  • Zoning and local permit approval for the location.
  • A sales tax seller permit is required. To obtain one, contact the Department of Revenue at (608) 266-2776 or on their Web site under Sales and Use Tax.
  • A $50,000 surety bond or irrevocable letter of credit. For a list of insurance companies accepting applications for bonds, see Insurance companies that accept applications for bonds. Note: If you are selling only motorcycles, you need a $5,000 bond or letter of credit.
  • A service department or written agreement with a nearby service facility.
  • At least one licensed salesperson. That could be you or someone else.
  • A business sign and posted hours.
  • A lease for the business real estate unless the license applicant owns it.
  • A manufacturer’s certificate of appointment (franchise) if you will be selling new vehicles.
  • Dealer license fee, dealer plate fee, and fee to the Department of Financial Institutions. (More information on fees follows.)
  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must be of good character, and must not have been convicted of a serious crime directly related to the sale of motor vehicles.

You can apply by mail 

You must complete several forms and provide additional documentation to apply for a retail dealer license. Many of the forms require your signature, or the signature of authorities and witnesses. It is not currently possible to submit your dealer license application online or by email. Some of the forms available below can be partially completed on the screen before printing. Others must be printed and completed entirely by hand. Therefore, you must apply for your dealer license by mail at the address below.

Steps in applying for a new dealer license:

  1. See retail dealer license application instructions. Print for your reference while completing application forms online.
  2. Complete and print application materials. You must submit all of the following application materials, except those listed as optional below. You may complete online forms on your screen before you print them. Some require additional handwritten information and signatures. However, you may not submit forms online or by email. You must mail completed paper copies of the required forms to the WisDOT Dealer & Agent Section at the address below.
    • Motor Vehicle Dealer Two Year License Application MV2186. Note: print two copies.
    • Entity/Owner Statement MV2844. Note: if your business has more than one owner, print and submit a form for each owner, partner, LLC member or manager, corporate officer or shareholder of 10% or more.
    • Business Facilities Statement MV2845.
    • Dealer Bond form MV2511. Note: if you will be submitting an Irrevocable Letter of Credit instead of the $50,000 bond, you will use the Wisconsin Motor Vehicle Irrevocable Letter of Credit form MV1046 instead of the MV2511 form.
    • Motor Vehicle Dealer Service Agreement form MV2085. Note: you do not need to print or submit this form if you have vehicle service facilities on the premises and will not be contracting with a repair facility.
    • Salesperson/Representative License Application Form MV2184.
    • Buyer's license. Buyer's License Application - MV2941. The Buyer's license is optional. 
    • Salvage Buyer Identification (BID) Card. Salvage Buyer Identification (BID) Card Application MV2651. The Salvage Buyer Identification (BID) Card is optional. 
    • Manufacturer/Importer/Distributor Certification of Dealer MV2131. Note: This is a franchise agreement form, and is required only for businesses intending to sell new motor vehicles. Manufacturers may provide you with a similar franchise agreement form in place of the MV2131.
  3. Mail your completed application materials to the address below.

If you have questions or prefer to have application materials mailed to you:

  • Email: dealers.dmv@dot.wi.gov
  • Call: (608) 266-1425
  • FAX: (608) 267-0323
  • Write to the address below:

    Wisconsin Department of Transportation
    Dealer & Agent Section
    4802 Sheboygan Avenue, Room 201
    P.O. Box 7909
    Madison, WI 53707-7909

Questions about the content of this page:
Division of Motor Vehicles, Dealer Section, dealers.dmv@dot.wi.gov
Last modified: August 4, 2014

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