Retail dealer license

Individuals may sell up to five of their own vehicles each year without a dealer license. These vehicles must be titled and registered to the individual and had been operated for personal use.Dealer license plate

If you acquire just one vehicle with the intention of selling it, you must have a Motor Vehicle 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 website 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 service facility within 50 miles from the selling dealership location.
  • 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.

Steps in applying for a new retail dealer license:

  1. See retail dealer license application instructions. Print for your reference while completing application.
  2. Complete and print application materials. You must submit all of the following application materials, except those listed as optional 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.
    • Business Facilities Statement MV3180.
    • Dealer Bond form MV2511. Note: if you will be submitting an Irrevocable Letter of Credit (ILOC) 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.
    • Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization. If your business is established as a corporation or a limited liability company, the State of Wisconsin requires a photocopy of your Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization as filed with the Department of Financial Institutions or the governing body in the state where the corporation was established.


For more information:


Apply by mail

Because the application forms require signatures of authorities and witnesses, they cannot be submitted online.  Mail all completed applications to the following address:

Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation
Dealer & Agent Section
P.O. Box 7909
Madison, WI 53707-7909


If you have questions or to request application materials for the retail dealer license: