So you want to become an auto dealer. It can be a lucrative profession, but you can’t just jump straight in. In fact, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) specifically mandates that if you sell three or more cars a year, you need to have a dealer license. Fortunately, getting your Florida car dealer license isn’t too complex.
If you want to become an independent dealer (VI) or a wholesale dealer (VW), the process is the same. If you’re looking to join a franchise as one of their dealers (VF), the process varies insofar as you don’t have to take as many pre-license education hours. If you want help deciding which dealer type is right for you, the FLHSMV has a quick guide you can use.
But before we get too far into the details about license type differences, let’s take a closer look at the step-by-step process for getting a car dealer license in Florida.
Here’s a quick list of the to-dos you need to complete before you can apply for your Florida auto dealer license.
The FLHSMV has specific requirements for locations, display spaces, and office spaces for car dealers. Familiarize yourself with them here. Then, locate your county’s Motorist Services Regional Office because they’ll be the ones to ensure you’re in compliance. You can find out where your local office is by visiting this webpage, choosing your county, and scrolling down. The office’s address and contact info will be listed toward the bottom of the page.
Get a federal employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS and get a sales tax number from the Florida Department of Revenue. Also, have every officer who will be involved in your business get electronically fingerprinted. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has a list of approved livescan providers. Make sure you and your team get electronically fingerprinted at one of those approved locations.
Next, it’s time to learn. The state requires you to finish a set number of pre-license education hours. If you’re getting an independent dealer or wholesale dealer license, you need to finish 16 hours. If you’re going to be a franchised dealer, you only need to do eight.
You don’t have to spend time in a classroom to knock out these hours, either. If you’d prefer to do them online at your convenience, FLHSMV-approved education providers offer the hours online.
The FLHSMV keeps a running list of approved education providers. You can use the handy table at the bottom of the page to find a provider who offers the hours you need in your preferred format, whether that’s in person or online.
Check off these three tasks and you’re ready to apply for your license.
Now, it’s time to send in your application. Complete this form and pay special attention to all the additional documents you need to include (they’re listed on page 3). Those electronic fingerprints you gathered earlier will come in handy now. Also, be ready to pay the $300 application fee.
Send in your completed application and wait to hear that it’s been approved. Once you get approval, you’re ready to open your own Florida car dealership. Congratulations!