Plain Dealing web index

​​ A | BCDEF | G | H | IJ | K | LM | NOP | Q | RST | UVW | X | Y | Z

​​​The following are rules, regulations, policies, and procedures that have been published in Plain Dealing. Each entry includes the publication date. Information may be edited or amended from its original published form to meet current state law and policy. Certain topics have been covered multiple times. The entry for these topics includes the most recent publication date first, with older publication dates provided in italics.

The department maintains complete issues of Plain Dealing online.


Advertising - basic advertising guidelines (July 2020, October 2018, Winter 2012, Winter 2009)

Dealer advertising guidelines have a separate webpage.​

Advertising - comparative pricing on new/used vehicles (January 2021)

Advertising comparative pricing on motor vehicles means comparing the sale price of the vehicle to any other price or statement of value (also known as the “comparative price”). Comparative pricing is an effective way to let consumers know you have a great deal on a vehicle; however, it can also be misleading when not used correctly.

Several rules apply to the practice of advertising comparative savings on vehicles:

  • Wis. Admin. Code ch. ATCP 124 is known as the price comparison advertising rule. This rule prohibits the use of arbitrary or inflated price comparisons in advertising.
  • Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.03(1) prohibits any use of deceptive of misleading advertising to induce the purchase of a motor vehicle.
  • Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.03(5) is known as the used vehicle comparative savings rule. This rule outlines certain conditions under which used vehicles can be advertised with comparative savings.
  • Wis. Stat. §100.20(1r) is specific to new vehicles and requires a disclaimer whenever the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is advertised alongside a sales price.

Let's take a look at how these rules affect motor vehicle advertising.

Advertising MSRP for new vehicles:

Per Wis. Stat §100.20(1r), when an advertisement compares the selling price of a new vehicle to MSRP, the ad must include a disclaimer that states: "MSRP is a manufacturer's suggested retail price and may not represent actual sale prices."

As a suggested price, a vehicle might never actually be sold at MSRP. The prevalence of dealer discounts and manufacturer rebates further decreases the likelihood of a vehicle being sold to a customer at MSRP. The disclosure informs potential consumers that comparisons to MSRP are probably not the best measure of savings on a new vehicle.

Advertising used vehicle prices compared to a market guide:

Using a motor vehicle pricing guide (e.g. Kelly Blue Book, NADA) as a comparative price is allowed when the source of the pricing is clearly and conspicuously disclosed in the advertisement.

For example, if a dealer lists a Market Value price and a Sales Price, and the Market Value price is based upon Kelly Blue Book valuation, the disclaimer should state: "Market Value price reflects the Kelly Blue Book value of this vehicle in good condition."

The comparative price should be the value of a vehicle of the same model year, make, and mileage, and in good condition. When making a comparison using a motor vehicle pricing guide, dealers must have available in writing to a customer the objective documentation used to set the value of the vehicle.

Used motor vehicles cannot be compared to MSRP or wholesale pricing, although demonstrator and executive vehicles can be advertised with MSRP.

Advertising used vehicle prices compared to previous selling price:

Used vehicles sales prices can also be compared to a previous price at which the vehicle was offered for sale. This is sometimes referred to as "WAS/IS" pricing.

WAS/IS pricing is allowed only when the vehicle was actually offered for sale at the comparative price for at least 4 weeks during the preceding 90 days; or if the 4 week period was prior to the 90 days, the advertisement must disclose the date, time, or season when it was offered at that price. The comparative price may not exceed the seller's cost plus regular percentage markup used in an actual, or similar, sale during recent business transactions.

Dealers should be prepared to provide documentation to show compliance with this rule.

Advertising current selling price only:

Dealers who list only the current selling price of a used vehicle in an advertisement are not subject to the above requirements. For this reason, we recommend dealers only list the current sales price of used vehicles in advertising.

Do I need to change my Buyers Guide?

Clarification 03-25-2022: This article originally stated that the buyer’s guide did not need to be updated when the selling price changed, provided that no comparison was made between the buyer’s guide price and the selling price. The was meant to provide guidance to dealers when the selling price is less than the buyer’s guide price. In the current used vehicle market, it is possible that a used vehicle may be marked up above the originally listed buyer’s guide price. The department is revising their guidance as follows:​

If the advertised selling price of the vehicle is less than the buyer’s guide price, the buyer’s guide should not be changed or altered. If the advertised selling price is greater than the buyer’s guide price, and new buyer’s guide must be completed to reflect the higher price. The buyer’s guide price represents the maximum amount at which the vehicle can be sold.

At any time the advertised selling price is compared to the buyer’s guide price, you must adhere to the requirements of ATCP 124 and/or Trans 139.

The Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) website has more information regarding the price comparison advertising rule. For questions, call DATCP at (800) 422-7128 or email

Additional motor vehicle advertising guidance is provided on the Wisconsin DOT webpage. If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact

Advertising ​- dealer add-ons (October 2021)

The cost of dealer add-ons must be itemized and included in any advertised price when:

  • a dealer installs accessories or includes add-ons (e.g. special protection packages, third party warranties, etc.) to a vehicle at the time it is offered for sale
  • the add-on was not included at the customer's consent
  • ​the consumer is charged the cost of the add-on when purchasing the vehicle.

Even if the dealer is willing to negotiate the add-on cost with the customer, or the dealer ultimately negotiates the cost of the add-ons to zero, the advertised price must reflect the cost of dealer add-ons.

This does not apply to accessories or add-ons that are installed at the request of the customer or as a condition of the sale.

Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans. 139.03(3)(a) states that any advertised price must include all charges a consumer will pay to purchase the vehicle less tax, title, registration, and optional service fee. The Department requires dealers to honor advertised pricing. As a dealer, you may see dealer-installed add-ons as one way to increase profitability on each vehicle, but incorrect pricing practices will ultimately cost you money.

Advertising - dealer groups (July 2021)

Dealer groups are defined by the department as dealerships with the same majority ownership. 

Dealer groups often advertise their inventory as a group of dealer licensees in one advertisement or website. When advertising in a group, it is important to make sure all licensees in the group advertisement have the same majority ownership.

When dealerships qualify as a dealer group, each dealer website can advertise vehicles available at any location in the group if the advertisement clearly states the dealer location where the vehicle is offered for sale.

Example: ABC Motors Inc. and Anytown Motors LLC are part of a dealer group. ABC Motors Inc. has a 2017 Chevrolet for sale. Anytown Motors LLC advertises the 2017 Chevrolet on their website with the statement: "Vehicle for sale at ABC Motors Inc."

Alternatively, you can maintain a general webpage for the entire dealer group. Each advertisement on the general page must clearly state the dealer location where the vehicle is kept in inventory.

Example: ABC Motors Inc. and Anytown Motors LLC are part of a dealer group. Both dealers use a shared website, An advertisement on the website for a 2017 Chevrolet states: "Vehicle for sale at ABC Motors Inc."

If your dealerships don't meet the department's definition of a dealer group, you can link each dealer's individual website to a central home or landing page. The landing page cannot advertise vehicles; it should serve to guide customers to each dealer's own website and inventory.

Example: ABC Motors Inc. and Anytown Motors LLC are not part of a dealer group. They share a website, The website is a landing page that includes links to each dealer website, and The landing page,, does not advertise any vehicles.


Advertising - exclusions to selling price (October 2020)

When advertising a selling price only four things can be excluded: taxes, title fees, registration fees, and the optional service fee. Other charges, such as freight or destination fees, set up fees, and installation or assembly fees, if charged to the customer, must be reflected in the advertised price, as per Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.03(3)(a).

Advertising​ - fees to be included, excluded from price (July 2021)

Listing a selling price without "hidden" fees or charges gives confidence to consumers they will only pay what is advertised. It's also the law. Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.03(3)(a) states that any advertised price must represent the total cost a consumer will pay to purchase a vehicle.

Recently, the department found dealers advertising a selling price that excluded certain charges in violation of the law. These fees are often referred to as "destination charges," "delivery fees," "freight charges," "set-up fees," "reconditioning fees" or similar language. These fees are not excluded by Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.03(a), and they are not considered a service fee. If these fees are passed on to the customer, they must be included in the advertised price.

We recognize that certain manufacturers choose to exclude specific fees, such as freight and delivery charges, from their Manufacturer Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP). The department considers MSRP a type of advertised price, and as such it must comply with the requirements of Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.03(3)(a).

We encourage all dealers to review their pricing to ensure they comply with the following requirements:

  • The advertised price must include all charges paid by the customer to purchase the vehicle, less tax, title, registration, and service fee.
  • If tax, title, registration, and service fee are excluded from the advertised price, a disclosure must exist that clearly states these fees are extra. All other fees must be included in the advertised price and therefore should not be mentioned in the disclosure.
  • When comparing the selling price to MSRP, you must include a disclosure that states the MSRP may not reflect the actual selling price of the vehicle.​
The law allows four items to be excluded from the advertised price: 1) taxes, 2) title fee, 3) registration fee, and 4) an optional service fee the dealer can charge to a customer to cover costs related to mandatory compliance with state and federal law.

Dealers found violating this law may be subject to citations, and dealers charging unauthorized fees may be required to refund those fee amounts to affected customers.

Advertising - internet only prices (April 2014)

Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.03 (3)(c) specifically states "Whenever a dealer licensee has a promotion on a used motor vehicle and a sales price is stated in an advertisement, the sales price shall be disclosed on the vehicle during the sales promotion period."

Offering "Internet Only" prices is a violation of this rule. All prices must match across all advertisements.

A dealer may be required to reimburse the consumer the difference between the sale price and purchase price if the sale price was not offered or disclosed at the time of purchase.


Advertising - listing vehicles as coming soon (July 2020)

Listing vehicles as "Coming Soon" ​or an equivalent phrase is an unfair practice and is prohibited because the vehicle is not available for purchase, has not been inspected or you may not have the title and cannot anticipate when you would receive it.

Offering a vehicle for sale that is not yet available to you would be a violation of Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.03 (10) which states "It is an unfair practice for a licensee to advertise motor vehicles or types of motor vehicles for sale unless the licensee has available, for delivery within a reasonable time, a quantity of the advertised vehicles sufficient to meet reasonably anticipated demands, unless the advertisement clearly and specifically discloses any limitations as to the quantity available or time of delivery."

Offering a vehicle for sale without a properly completed WI Buyer's Guide would violate Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.04 (6) which states in part, "Each used motor vehicle displayed or offered for sale by a dealer shall display a guide as prescribed by the department."

Lastly, the law requires the dealership to have the ownership document when it offers a vehicle for sale. If you do not have the title or MSO, you could be violating Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 138.04 (1)(a) which states in part, "As evidence of ownership, title for each used vehicle owned and offered for sale and manufacturer's statement of origin, or MSO, for each new vehicle owned and offered for sale."

Advertising - markups above MSRP (October 2021)

The Department has received many questions regarding markups over Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on vehicles.

State law does not prohibit dealers from pricing new vehicles above MSRP, but all markups must be clearly itemized and included in the price of a vehicle when advertised, and a disclaimer must be included that says the vehicle selling price is above the suggested retail price set by the manufacturer.

Similarly, used vehicle pricing is at the discretion of the selling dealer. Used vehicle prices cannot be compared to original MSRP, and no specific disclosure is required.

Dealers should also be aware that laws prohibiting price gouging during declared emergency periods also apply to motor vehicle dealers. Wis. Admin. Code ch. ATCP 106.02 prohibits dealers from selling vehicles at a price greater than 15% above the highest price at which a similar vehicle was sold in the 60-day period immediately prior to the emergency declaration.​

Advertising - prize notices (Winter 2012)

Wisconsin law prohibits merchants from engaging in lotteries.

Law defines a lottery as having three factors:

  1. A prize, that is
  2. Determined by chance, and has
  3. Consideration (something of value that the contestant provides in order to become eligible for the prize)

Consideration is the most difficult part of determining whether a contest is an illegal lottery. Something of value doesn't just mean money. It also includes any required purchase or any required actions on the part of the contestant. (Requiring a test drive before entering the contest would be consideration.) The following methods of entering a contest are not consideration:

  • Postage for mailing in an entry form
  • Price of gas used to visit the contest location
  • Being required to visit the store to enter, as long as no purchase is required

Other examples of legal contests include direct mail promotions where contestants are mailed a key to bring in to the dealership to try in the ignition (or door) of the prize vehicle. Contestants might also be mailed a card with a number printed on it that they bring in to see if it matches a posted prize-winning number.

There are companies who, for a fee, will run these kinds of direct mail promotions for you. Before you sign up with one, it's a good idea to take some precautions:

  • Research all companies involved in the promotion. Ask for examples of past promotions they were involved in.
  • Get references. Talk to other dealers who've participated in promotions run by the companies you're considering.
  • Make sure the contest is legal. Use the prize/chance/consideration test to be sure you're not running an illegal lottery.

It's also a good idea to have a plan of action developed in case something goes wrong with the promotion. For example, what if more than one winning key turns up? This has happened in Wisconsin and in other states. A quick and positive response can prevent bad publicity and angry customers.

These contests are illegal:

  • Bingo events and raffles. Only nonprofit organizations are eligible to receive the license needed to conduct these events.
  • Casino nights. Games where participants make a payment or donation in order to gamble with play money and then use that play money to bid on prizes. These are considered illegal lotteries no matter who conducts them.

If you award a vehicle as a prize, you, as the donor of the prize, must pay any sales or use taxes due. The prize winner is not subject to sales tax. The winner could be expected to pay title and registration fees. In completing the MV11 for the winner, include the title fee, registration fee (or plate number to transfer) and indicate tax exempt status #9 (other) and write in "prize" as the explanation.


Advertising -rebates (April 2016)

To be consistent with FTC guidelines and expectations the DMV revised its interpretation of Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.03(3) regarding qualifying rebates. The following is required:

An advertised price or payment may only contain rebate discounts in which every customer will qualify for. If there is any qualification criteria that prohibits a customer from being eligible, the rebate cannot be included in the final advertised price or payment.

Complete rules for advertising rebates are found in the advertising guidelines.


Advertising - rebate bundling (August 2016)

Dealers are allowed to bundle rebates everyone qualifies for as long as the following conditions are met:

  • In print ads (including billboards, dealership windows, hang tags, etc.), the rebates to all must be itemized. If not adjacent to the price or payment, the rebates must be listed in the end disclaimer.
  • In radio, the rebates to all must be itemized. If not spoken adjacent to the price or payment, the rebates must be listed in the trailer.
  • On TV, the rebates to all must be itemized. If not adjacent to the price or payment, the rebates must be listed on the same screen as the price or payment in a readable disclaimer.
  • On the internet, the rebates to all must be itemized. If not written adjacent to the price or payment, one could do one of the following:
    • Scroll over the price or payment to see the rebates
    • See the listed rebates "one click away"
    • View the listed rebates in the comments section of the Vehicle Description Page (VDP)
    • List the rebates at the bottom of the webpage near the "savings" or "final price or payment" as long as the webpage clearly refers the customer to the bottom of the page


Advertising - service fee disclosures (April 2020)

Per Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.03(3)(a) you can exclude tax, title, registration, and service fees from the advertised price of a vehicle, as long as a disclosure is included with the advertisement. The use of proper wording in a disclosure is important to avoid code violation. The use of the phrase "dealer fee", "administrative fee", "documentation fee", or similar language to refer to the service fee is not allowed.

Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.05(8) explicitly uses the term "service fee" to refer to this charge, and as such you may only use the term "service fee" in a disclosure statement.

Here is an example of an acceptable disclosure of fees:

"The advertised price does not include sales tax, title, registration, or service fees."

Here are some actual examples of unacceptable disclosure fees that we have found on dealer websites:

"Price does not include applicable tax, title, license, processing and/or documentation fees."

The use of the term processing and/or documentation fees is not permitted.

"[Price] does not include taxes, license, title fee, insurance, and $XXX dealer fee."

The use of the term dealer fee is not permitted.

"Price does not include additional fees... including government fees and taxes, any dealer documentation fees, any emissions testing fees, or other fees."

The use of the terms dealer documentation fees, emissions testing fees, or other fees are not permitted. In addition, the disclosure does not mention title and registration fees. Unless these fees are included in the advertised price, they should also be disclosed here.

Advertising - social media (April 2021)

"Dealer advertising" is a broad term, and it includes any messages presented to the public promoting a product or a service. This means that messages posted to public social media accounts—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and others—face the same scrutiny as print or website advertising.​

Required disclosures

Social media focuses on using short messages to grab consumers' attention, but you still need to provide proper disclosures and avoid crafting your message in a way that is deceptive or misleading. You can meet the requirements of the law in one of two ways:

  1. List all required disclosures within the body of the message.
  2. Include required disclosures “one click away” by providing a link to the disclosures within the body of the message. If you use a link, you must direct consumers to the link to read the disclosures. You cannot assume a customer will click on any links or visit any other page beyond the advertisement itself, unless you give them a reason to do so. For example, the advertisement could state, "Click here for important disclosures: [LINK]." The link could also be highlighted with a different color, font, or symbol to draw the viewer's interest.

If you choose to include a link one click away from the main advertisement, the disclosures in the link must be clear and conspicuous to the viewer. If the required disclosures are not immediately apparent upon opening the link, it is not considered "one click away."

Social media posts by individual salespersons.

When individual salespersons post advertisements for motor vehicles using their personal social media accounts, it must be clearly disclosed in the advertisement that the vehicle is sold by the dealership. For example, the advertisement could state: "Sold by [DEALER BUSINESS NAME]."

Wis. Admin Code ch. Trans 139.03(11) requires that the selling dealership be identified in any advertisement. Contact information, such as phone number or e-mail address, must also correspond to the number and address used by the dealership.

Individuals cannot list personal phone numbers or e-mail addresses in advertisements without also including contact information for the dealer.

Advertising - "sold" vehicles listed online (January 2022)

Advertised vehicles must be available for delivery within a reasonable period of time, defined by the department as seven days.

Vehicles advertised as “sold” are not available, and the listings must be removed per Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.03(10)​. Keeping “sold” inventory online is considered false, deceptive, or misleading advertising.

As a reminder, dealers are responsible for representations made online regarding the vehicles they offer for sale. Website-related issues should be addressed with your web vendor to ensure compliance with advertising laws.

Advertising -vehicles in transit (October 2020)

If you as the dealer hold the ownership document to a vehicle in transit, you may advertise that vehicle under the following conditions.

A vehicle can only be advertised when it is available within a reasonable amount of time— with regards to this rule, "reasonable" is seven business days— OR the ad clearly and conspicuously provides a date at which time the vehicle will be made available for delivery, as per Wis Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.03(10).

For example, if you are notified a vehicle's estimated arrival date to your dealership won't be until November 1, 2020, the ad must state "Available 11/1/20."

Generalized statements such as "Vehicle available within 30 days," "Available Soon," or similar phrases do not provide a definite timetable for delivery and is not allowed. If the vehicle will be available within seven business days of posting, no special notation in the ad is required.


Arbitration agreements are illegal (Spring 2006)

Motor vehicle dealers may not require consumers to waive their right to sue in court. Listed below are reasons why arbitration agreements are illegal for motor vehicle pur​chase contracts:

  • Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.05(9) provides that "The use of a motor vehicle purchase contract which requires the purchaser to waive any claims the purchaser may have for breach of contract by the licensee is an unfair practice and prohibited."
  • Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.09 provides that "Waiver of any requirements of this chapter, except as specifically provided for in this chapter, is prohibited and void."
  • Wis. Stat. §218.0163(2) provides consumers with a statutory right to sue dealers in court. A mandatory arbitration clause would interfere with that statutory right.

According to the Department of Financial Institutions, the courts will determine the appropriateness of arbitration clauses in consumer credit transactions.


Autocycles (July 2020)

Effective May 1, 2020, Wisconsin law re-classified a three-wheeled vehicle with a steering wheel and a seat that drivers do not straddle as an AUTOCYCLE.

Since autocycles are classified as three-wheeled motor vehicles, they require the motor vehicle (MV) dealer license to sell. Motorcycle (MC) dealers who sold these vehicles prior to May 1, 2020, are also allowed to sell autocycles. Dealers can issue a temporary plate; the temporary plate is the standard (full-size) plate issued to other autos. Mail all title applications to DMV for processing.



Bond claims against dealers (Spring 2009)

Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 140 requires a surety bond or irrevocable letter of credit to be filed with the Department. A claim can be filed against the dealership when the claim meets all three of the following conditions:

  • The consumer is faced with monetary damages in the amount of an actual loss.
  • The claim arose during the period covered by the bond.
  • The claimant’s loss was caused by an action of the bonded licensee that would be grounds for
    license revocation or suspension.

The bond company is notified when a bond claim is filed against the dealership’s bond. WisDOT completes an initial review of the claim and sends the claim to the Department of Hearings and Appeals (DHA) to be assigned a hearing examiner. Generally, a legal notice is published in a newspaper in the general area of the dealership when a bond claim is filed against a dealer who is out of business. The deadline for receipt of additional claims is 60 days after the published notice.

The hearing examiner issues a preliminary determination in which you have 30 days to object to the determination. The preliminary determination becomes the final decision, if there are no objections to the claim. Remember, if a bond company pays a claim they will come to you for reimbursement of any amounts they pay.


Broker's license (Spring 2009)

Information regarding brokering and broker's licensing in Wisconsin.


Buyer's guide - recreational vehicles (January 2020)

Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 142.06(3)(a) requires a Recreation Vehicle (RV) dealer to disclose the general condition of the RV in writing before executing a purchase contract. Recently the Department revised the Recreation Vehicle (RV) Buyer's Guide to reflect current vehicle features and options. The new guide shall be displayed on all used RV's effective February 1, 2020. Because of the number of changes, use of the previous version will be prohibited after February 1, 2020.

As a reminder, Trans 142.06(3)(a) requires the following:

"Licensees shall inform prospective retail purchasers of used recreational vehicles in writing before execution of the purchase contract in the manner and on the form prescribed by the department, of all significant structural or mechanical defects and damage. Disclosure of information shall include that which the licensee discovers as a result of a careful visual inspection, which shall consist of but is not limited to a walk-around and interior inspection, under vehicle inspection, roof inspection and an inspection of the appliances. Licensees shall not be required to dismantle any part of the recreational vehicle during the inspection process."

If you have any questions about the form, please contact your local Field Investigator.

Buyer's license - wholesale dealers cannot hold buyer's license (April 2021)

During a recent audit of our buyer license credentialing process it was discovered Wisconsin law limits the issuance of a buyer's license to retail motor vehicle dealers only (see Wis. Stat. §218.0101(22m). To adhere to the law, effective June 1, 2021, all buyer's licenses associated with wholesale dealers will be cancelled.

Buyers who wish to continue purchasing vehicles at Wisconsin wholesale auctions will need to purchase vehicles on behalf of licensed motor vehicle dealers only.

Wholesale dealer owners will continue to be able to purchase motor vehicles at Wisconsin wholesale auctions; the buyer's license is not required for owners.

Wholesale buyer's license holders are asked to return their cancelled credentials to the department:

Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles

Dealer & Agent Section
P.O. Box 7909
Madison, WI 53707-7909

Those with questions or concerns regarding buyer's licenses can contact the Dealer Licensing Unit.


Cardboard temporary plates (January 2020; ​​December 2019)

The last day a vehicle can be legally operated with a cardboard temporary plate is March 1, 2020. DMV informed law enforcement of this termination date. It is imperative your organization only issue print-on demand temporary plates to prevent your customers from being contacted by law enforcement.

Organizations that still have cardboard temporary plates should mail them to:

Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles


4822 Madison Yards Way

Madison, WI 53705

Cash price on MV11 forms (January 2022)

WisDOT has received questions regarding how to properly calculate the Cash Price required in Section E, line (a) of the MV11 Title and Registration Application.

The term “Cash Price” as used on the MV11 is the same as the “Cash Price” listed on the Motor Vehicle Purchase Contract, Item 1. Cash Price is the dealer retail price of the vehicle including dealer installed options, plus optional service fee, and less any discounts.

To complete the MV11, transfer the Cash Price calculated from the purchase contract and enter it into Section E, line (a),

Confirmation of Ownership for out-of-state residents (April 2020)

Illinois will no longer accept the Wisconsin Confirmation of Ownership (COO) document to register vehicles for their residents. This means that an Illinois resident purchasing a vehicle in Wisconsin with a lien will need to obtain the paper title from their lien holder when applying for registration.

Since out of state residents are eligible only for a 30-day temporary plate, in most cases the plate will expire before your customer is able to manage the registration process between Illinois, the lienholder, and themselves. This may cause an undue burden for you as customers may request multiple temporary plates.

Alternatives to COO:

1. Mail the title paperwork directly to the state of Illinois for perfection of the lien and issuance of the customer's registration. The customer will still be eligible for a Wisconsin 30-day temporary plate.

2. Request a letter from the lienholder granting permission for the paper title to be printed and mailed to the customer if you are arranging financing. The title application will need to be mailed to WisDOT for manual processing (REMINDER: standard manual processing can take 6-8 weeks to complete, and a customer's temporary plate will likely expire before WisDOT issues a title).

3. Use a third-party titling agency that operates at a national level to process the customer's title in their home state while ensuring lien perfection. The customer will still be eligible for a Wisconsin 30-day temporary plate.
Remember that your dealership is responsible for perfecting a lien on a title. How you choose to title a vehicle to out of state residents is your business decision.

Note: Illinois is not the only state that requires a paper title for registration. The above recommendations could apply to any out of state resident sale.


Consent to purchase (May 2017)

When a minor purchases a vehicle, the following apply:

  • Consent to purchase signed by the parent or legal guardian is required under state law for the minor to have license plate registration. Note that minors do not need parental/guardian consent when getting only a title, without license plate registration.
  • Consent to purchase is required even when an adult is also registering the vehicle as a co-owner or co-lessee.

The parent or legal guardian can sign on Section F of the MV11 Wisconsin Title and License Plate Application or on the MV29​24 Consent to Purchase certification form available on the DMV website. The parent/guardian signature does not need to be notarized if a Wisconsin dealer or electronic processing agent witnesses the signing. All electronic title processing systems will give a warning message before allowing processing of license plate registration for a minor.


County Taxes - DOR maintains a current list of taxes by county


Creative financing (Spring 1992)

You have a customer eager to buy a car, but you're having a hard time getting financing approved. Is it acceptable to inflate the selling price so you can also increase the trade-in allowance and make it appear that the customer has more equity in the vehicle? No, it's not acceptable, and the problems associated with this practice can land you in serious trouble.

The problems:

  • Including an over allowance in the trade-in can backfire if the deal falls through. You would have to refund the inflated allowance if the trade-in could not be returned to the customer.
  • Inflating the purchase price involves making false statements on the purchase contract, the application for title and the retail installment contract (if you are arranging the financing).
  • Some banks have sued dealers when customers defaulted on their loans and the banks discovered the resale value of the vehicle wasn't enough to cover the amount owed.
  • Defrauding the bank that accepts the loan may be grounds for revoking, suspending or denying your dealer license.
  • Your advertising may be false and misleading if you're not selling cars at their advertised prices—or if you're selling cars above the used vehicle disclosure label asking price without extra value being added to the car (new tires or stereo, for example).

It also isn't acceptable to draw up two purchase contracts or two applications for title — one for the customer and DMV showing actual values, and one for financing showing inflated values.

Cybersecurity resource guide (April 2021)

The Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) recently contacted dealers to highlight the importance of strong cybersecurity programs. DFI considers cybersecurity threats to be a significant and increasing risk facing financial service providers of all sizes. To help dealers tackle cybersecurity issues, DFI is providing to all licensees a resource guide compiled by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS): Cybersecurity 101.

If your company hasn't already done so, please review the guide and consider what steps you can take to implement or enhance a comprehensive cybersecurity program appropriate to your business practices.
  1. The CSBS ransomware self-assessment tool (NOTE: this link is invalid as of 07-22)​ can help you assess your current cybersecurity efforts and identify opportunities for increasing security.
  2. The Federal Trade Commission has numerous online resources to help businesses understand and navigate the many issues associated with cybersecurity. DFI considers having a cybersecurity program essential and it is part of state law.
A successful program ensures the public has confidence in businesses' financial responsibility and character. DFI intends to assess steps taken towards developing such a program in future supervisory activity. Hopefully these resources will begin a better collaboration between financial service providers and regulators to guard against these growing cyber threats.


Damage disclosure rule - audio equipment (Spring 2009)

Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139 excludes audio equipment from the 6% damage rule. WisDOT agrees that both the navigation systems and DVD players are considered audio equipment and are, therefore, exempted from the 6% damage threshold.


Dealer business hours (Spring 1992)

All motor vehicle dealers, motor vehicle wholesalers, and motor vehicle wholesale auction dealers must post the specific days of the week and hours of the day when they are available at their place of business.

Posting a sign saying "By Appointment" isn't enough to meet the business hours sign requirement of the Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 138.06(2).

Dealer forms (April 2016)

Dealers must use the most current forms available when submitting documents to the Department.

The dealer forms website maintain the most current Department forms.

To purchase additional forms not offered online, please contact one of the authorized vendors.

Dealer plates - alpha characters (February 2018)

In February 2018, WisDOT began issuing motor vehicle dealer plates formatted with an alpha character at the end of the plate number. Dealer plates used to have an alpha character but it was removed when the plate was redesigned in 2010.

The alpha suffix will make each plate number unique. This will make inventory tracking easier for your dealership, the DOT, and law enforcement. Additionally, law enforcement will be able to view ownership details for each dealer plate via the Department of Justice's TIME System.

WisDOT will not be reissuing plates. Therefore, dealerships have three options for their dealer plate inventory:

  1. Replace all of your current numeric plates with alpha character plates. This can be done by submitting the MV2176 Additional or Replacement Plates Application form and a payment of $4 per replacement plate. Once you receive your new plates we request you send all old numeric plates to Hill Farms since they will no longer be valid.
  2. Supplement your current numeric dealer plates with additional alpha plates. This can be done by submitting the MV2176 Additional or Replacement Plates Application form and a payment of $10 per additional plate.
  3. Do nothing. Your numeric plates will be valid as long as your dealer license remains valid.

If your dealership loses a numeric plate, or has it stolen in the future, we strongly encourage you to replace your entire plate inventory with alpha character plates to avoid any confusion with law enforcement.

If you have any questions about the new dealer plates please contact the Dealer Licensing Unit at (608) 266-1425.

Dealer plates - plate suspension (January 2020)

If any of your dealer plates are issued a parking citation, all your dealer plates are subject to suspension if the ticket is not paid. As required by Wis. Stat. §345.28(5), the issuing law enforcement agency must issue two notices within 28 days of the parking violation to the dealer before the department may suspend your dealer plates. Once the plates are suspended you will receive a notice of suspension from the DMV.

You will not be able to order any new dealer plates until the citations are paid and the plates are reinstated. If you have questions about the status of your dealer plates, please contact the Dealer Licensing Unit at (608) 266-1425.

Dealer plates - proper usage (Spring/Summer 2012)

According to Wis. Stat. §341.47(1), vehicles of dealers, distributors, manufacturers and transporters are exempt from general registration requirements when a vehicle:

  • is actually offered for sale by a dealer, distributor or manufacturer; or
  • is in transit from the factory to a distributor or dealer or from the dealer to the purchaser; or
  • is being used by a manufacturer primarily for trial tests; or
  • is being repossessed, being reconditioned for resale or being foreclosed or resold.

This means that dealer license plates may be used for personal or business purposes provided the vehicle is actually owned and offered for sale by the dealer.

Dealers should display dealer plates whenever a vehicle they own and are offering, or will be offering for sale is operated on the highway. Recently, some police departments have been seeing a high volume of dealer plate usage without Wisconsin Buyers' Guides displayed. If a vehicle has been inspected for sale, be sure the Wisconsin Buyers' Guide is readable from the outside. Demonstrator and executive vehicles need not display a Wisconsin Buyers' Guide until they are removed from demonstrator or executive service.

If you bring vehicles to detailers or other businesses to have work done:

  • Display a dealer plate while traveling to and from your dealership.
  • Protect your plates by having your staff drop off and pick up vehicles and have them take the plates with them.
  • Avoid releasing a plate overnight or over a weekend.
  • Ask the detailer to return the plate to you while the work is being done if the vehicle will be at the detailers shop for several days.

If a dealer's spouse, not employed at the dealership, is using one of the dealership's cars to run personal errands, is this proper use of a dealer plate on the car? The answer to this question is yes if the car is owned and offered for sale by the dealership, and the spouse resides in the dealer's household.

More guidelines for proper use of dealer plates:

  • Display a Wisconsin Buyers' Guide or Monroney label on any vehicle using a dealer plate as proof that the vehicle is owned and offered for sale by the dealership. (Not required for wholesale transactions.)
  • Make sure that vehicles used by employees for personal use are available for display at the dealership during business hours.
  • Use dealer plates on consignment vehicles.
  • Use dealer plates on loaner vehicles if the vehicle is actually offered for sale. Service customers are potential sales customers.
  • Don't use dealer plates on a tow truck. (See gross weight plates.)
  • Don't use dealer plates on a vehicle carrying a load. (See demonstrator plates.)
  • Celebrity use of dealer plates at events such as the annual air show in Oshkosh or professional golf tournaments is permitted. Be sure a Monroney label or a Wisconsin Buyers' Guide is displayed on each vehicle.

If you allow your spouse or children residing in your household to use dealer plates, do be certain that the vehicle is actually offered for sale and displays a Wisconsin Buyers' Guide or Monroney label. While this type of use is technically permitted, there has been adverse public reaction to it.

These are some of the fundamentals of permissible dealer license plate use. Remember the key words: owned and actually offered for sale by the dealership.

Dealer plates - use on courtesy/rental vehicles (January 2021)

Courtesy/rental vehicles: "Courtesy" and "loaner" are used interchangeably when referring to a vehicle that is temporarily given to a consumer to drive while their vehicle is being repaired or maintained by a dealership. A vehicle designated as a "loaner" or "courtesy" vehicle by a dealership may or may not be titled to the dealership. The customer is not required to sign any type of contract or pay any fee to use the vehicle.

Vehicles marked "loaner" or "courtesy" painted on the vehicle and not being offered for sale and cannot use dealer plates. They can use dealer plates when offered for sale with a WI Buyers Guide or Monroney Label.

Rental vehicles: A rental vehicle is often "rented" by an individual or business to use for a short period of time, for a fee. Consumers are required to sign some type of contract, generally called a "rental" or "use" contract with the business. Any vehicle that fits any definition of "rental" must be titled and registered to the dealership or business. Rental vehicles are not eligible to use dealer plates.

A vehicle that has been designated as a loaner or rental vehicle must be disclosed on the WI Buyers Guide as previous business or rental use. If a vehicle was taken on an extended test drive, the vehicle does not need to be disclosed as personal or business use. If you're unsure how to properly disclose a vehicle's use, please reach out to your field investigator for assistance.

Dealer transfers/buyouts (August 2016)

Dealer transfers and buyouts occur when the current ownership group sells the business to a new owner. Transfers of dealer ownership require coordination with the Dealer Licensing Unit (DLU) to ensure a smooth transition of license from one owner to the next.

Dealer business plans are confidential and the Department respects that. Only a handful of people are involved with the licensing of a new dealership.

In order to ensure you are able to open your new business on your target date, DLU needs at least two weeks from the time the application is received to complete the licensing process. During those two weeks, DLU will review your application for completeness and accuracy. Once the application is complete, your Field Investigator will conduct the facilities inspection and inventory the plates of the closing dealer.

Our application instructions website outline the process and links to all necessary forms.

When this type of business change occurs, we need the following additional information:

  • Is the new dealer keeping the existing dealer number?
  • What will happen to the current metal plate inventory?
    • New dealer keeping them?
    • Being transferred to a different dealer in the dealer group?
    • Returned to DMV?
  • Are the salesperson staying on with the new dealer, or are they being reassigned within a dealer group?

Please contact DLU if you have any questions about the licensing process.


DMV inquiry use (April 2016)

Employees of dealers and agents who process title-registration in the DMV system, just like DMV employees, are strictly prohibited from using the system for personal use under the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2721.

Inquiry use is tracked, so protect yourself by not sharing logon IDs either - you are responsible for all activity under your logon ID! If you need information about a vehicle that is unrelated to business use at your dealership, please contact DMV or check the DOT public website.

You can check the status of a title transfer or lien on the DOT website - just go to and select "Online Services" from the menu.

Never use DMV's Inquiry system to look up your own record, or those of friends, family or neighbors.

Down payments require a purchase contract (January 2022)

Whenever you accept a down payment from a customer, be sure you are executing a motor vehicle purchase contract. This is required per Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.05(1)(b). Online sales are subject to the same rules and requirements as in-person sales.

If you have any questions regarding the proper use of the motor vehicle purchase contracts, contact your dealer investigator.

   A | BCDEF | G | H | IJ | K | LM | NOP | Q | RST | UVW | X | Y | Z |



Electronic signatures (April 2020 Special Release)

We recognize there are many variables to a sales transaction and identifying one "standard" transaction is difficult. However, the forms used to complete a transaction are often the same. Wisconsin Statute §137 allows an electronic signature to be used, making no distinction between "wet" and electronic signatures.

The format of the electronic signature may be determined by the dealer or agent that collects it. As per Wis. Stat. §137.25, all signature requirements, including odometer disclosure, must be vetted by the dealer or agent prior to use and be of reputable source. The Department does not endorse, cannot refer, and will not recommend, any electronic signature software provider over another. The sole responsibility and liability fall on the dealer and their decision to use that software provider.

Below is a list of common sales scenarios and the forms used during those transactions. These are intended to help you determine when you can collect a purchaser's signature electronically to complete the sale of a vehicle. Keep in mind dealers and agents must still adhere to all other existing laws and requirements regarding the sale of a vehicle, submission of documents and document retention.

Note: Dealer trades and dealer-to-dealer sales must continue to be recorded on the physical title. Wisconsin does not allow the use of a supplemental reassignment, except when the title is non-conforming.

Vehicle sale without a trade-in when the dealer holds the physical title

The customer can sign all required documentation electronically. The dealer must complete their reassignment on the title as seller and provide the odometer disclosure. The customer may sign the MV-11 in lieu of the title.

Vehicle sale without a trade-in where the title is held by the lien holder

This is a scenario where the vehicle being purchased was previously traded in with a lien. The dealer has made the payoff but hasn't received the title yet. The customer can sign all required documentation electronically. The dealer must include the MV-2690, inquiry print (the print must show the title is being held by a lien holder), and proof of pay-off when submitting paperwork to DMV. The MV11 serves as the odometer disclosure between the dealer and purchaser.

Vehicle purchased from private party

In this scenario the dealership purchases a vehicle outright from a private party for the purpose of resale. If the title is held by a lien holder the customer can sign all documents electronically but an MV2690 must be printed on secure paper. If the vehicle has a clean title all reassignments and disclosures should be provided on the title.

Lien Agent facilitating the sale of a vehicle between two private parties

In this scenario a lender is coordinating the sale and financing of a private party sale. If the seller's vehicle is currently being held by a lienholder, the lender must obtain an MV2690 form the seller to obtain the odometer disclosure. The MV2690 can be signed electronically but must be printed on secure paper. If the seller's title does not have a lien the seller must complete the reassignment and odometer disclosure on the title.


The following forms can be signed electronically and must be printed using a secured printing process or other secure process* if used for an odometer disclosure:

MV-11 Wisconsin Title and License Plate Application: Application for Wisconsin title, used specifically by WI licensed dealers. Can also be used as final reassignment, having an odometer disclosure and signed by both the selling and purchasing parties.

MV-2690 Power of Attorney, Vehicle Odometer Disclosure: This POA can only be used when the title is held by a lien holder. The form must be signed by the trade-in customer and receiving dealership at the time of trade-in, then again by the dealership once/if the title is physically received by the agent from the previous lender.

MV-2488 Vehicle Transfer and Odometer Mileage Statement: To be used as a reassignment under limited circumstances from the dealer to the purchasing customer. This form is also used by the department, when requesting transfer information for the purpose of correction. This form is not sold by vendors; it is available through WisDOT by submitting DT1435 Request for Forms. If you are not sure about how or when this form should be used, contact the Agent Partnership Unit.

The following forms can be signed electronically and printed using a non​secure printing process:

MV-2119 Replacement Title Application: To be signed by the owner of record unless held by a lien holder. If held by a lien holder, the replacement title application must be signed by the primary lien holder. Power of Attorney cannot be granted to a dealership for the purpose of applying for a replacement title.

General Power of Attorney: A POA can be granted for the purpose of signing documents required for a purchase, such as a leased vehicle. A Wisconsin dealer or an individual employed with the dealership receiving a vehicle cannot act as a POA for the purpose of applying for a replacement title.

MV-1 Wisconsin Title and License Plate Application: Unlike the MV-11, this form does not contain an odometer statement and is not required to be on secure paper.

MV2790 Trustee Statement for Certificate of Title: Required when titling a vehicle to or receiving a vehicle from a trust. Be aware, the name of the trust must exactly match name on the application (MV-1, MV-11) submitted.

MV2872 Wisconsin Buyer's Guide

Purchase Contract

Please direct any questions to the Agent Partnership Unit or your Field Investigator.

*"Secure printing process or other secure process" means any process which deters and detects counterfeiting or unauthorized reproduction, or both, and allows alterations to be visible to the naked eye. For additional information about secure printing methods please see Appendix A to Part 580-Secure Printing Processes and Other Secure Processes of the Code of Federal Regulations.


Emissions records - tampering (October 2014)

Wisconsin Act 368 created Wis. Stat. §110.20(11)(c) which prohibits a person from knowingly doing any of the following:

  • altering data from an emission inspection
  • submitting a false report of data from a required emission inspection
  • attributing data from an emission inspection to a vehicle other than the vehicle tested

If the violator is the person performing the emission inspection, that person is guilty of a class H felony and may be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than 6 years, or both.

The use of electronic parts, tools and diagnostic equipment is critical for effectively repairing motor vehicles. However, the misuse of electronic equipment, such as scan tools, can lead to violations of the Federal Clean Air Act (CAA). The penalties for CAA violations include fines, jail time and can greatly impact a business.

Some of the more common abuses include defeat devices and emission control equipment tampering.

  • Defeat devices. It is a violation of the CAA to manufacture, sell or install a part for a motor vehicle that bypasses, defeats or renders inoperative any emission control device. For example, computer software that alters diesel fuel injection timing is a defeat device. Defeat devices, which are often sold to enhance engine performance, work by disabling a vehicle's emission controls, causing air pollution.
  • Tampering. Prior to or after the sale or delivery to the buyer, the CAA prohibits anyone from tampering with an emission control device on a motor vehicle by removing it or making it inoperable. A vehicle's emission control system is designed to limit emissions of harmful pollutants from vehicles or engines.

Federal regulatory language makes it clear that tampering with emission control devices is subject to monetary fines and other penalties.

Regulatory quotes which support this consideration include:

  • Section 86.090-25, paragraph (b)(6)(ii)(C) of the Code of Federal Regulations states: "(C) A clearly displayed visible signal system approved by the Administrator is installed to alert the vehicle driver that maintenance is due. A signal bearing the message "maintenance needed" or "check engine," or a similar message approved by the Administrator, shall be actuated at the appropriate mileage point or by component failure. This signal must be continuous while the engine is in operation, and not be easily eliminated without performance of the required maintenance. Resetting the signal shall be a required step in the maintenance operation…." Section 86.090-25, paragraph (b)(6)(iii) of the Code of Federal Regulations states: "(iii) Visible signal systems used under paragraph (b)(6)(ii(C) of this section are considered an element of design of the emission control system. Therefore, disabling, resetting, or otherwise rendering such signals inoperative without also performing the indicated maintenance procedure is a prohibited act under section 203(a)(3) of the Clean Air Act, as amended in August 1977 (42 U.S.C. 7522(a)(3))"
  • Clean Air Act § 7522. (a) Enumerated prohibitions Air Act (CAA) states: "​(3) (A) for any person to remove or render inoperative any device or element of design installed on or in a motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine in compliance with regulations under this subchapter prior to its sale and delivery to the ultimate purchaser, or for any person knowingly to remove or render inoperative any such device or element of design after such sale and delivery to the ultimate purchaser; or (B) for any person to manufacture or sell, or offer to sell, or install, any part or component intended for use with, or as part of, any motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine, where a principal effect of the part or component is to bypass, defeat, or render inoperative any device or element of design installed on or in a motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine in compliance with regulations under this subchapter, and where the person knows or should know that such part or component is being offered for sale or installed for such use or put to such use;"

However, there are provisions to recognize that the emission components may be temporarily disabled during repair during the maintenance and repair of a motor vehicle. The specific language addressing this states: Clean Air Act §7522. (a) (5) No action with respect to any device or element of design referred to in paragraph (3) shall be treated as a prohibited act under that paragraph if: "(i) the action is for the purpose of repair or replacement of the device or element, or is a necessary and temporary procedure to repair or replace any other item and the device or element is replaced upon completion of the procedure, and (ii) such action thereafter results in the proper functioning of the device or element referred to in paragraph."

EPA has increased most civil penalty amounts in accordance with the provisions of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA). The agency is required to review the civil monetary penalties under the statutes it administers every four years and to adjust the penalties as necessary for inflation according to a formula specified in the DCIA. Civil penalties were last adjusted in 2004. In a Federal Register notice, EPA states, "[T]he purpose of these adjustments is to maintain the deterrent effect of civil penalties and to further the policy goals of the underlying statutes." Table 1 in the notice includes all past civil penalty amounts, statute by statute and the pending adjusted amounts that can be imposed on violators. The maximum daily amount that can be recovered under section 113 (b) of the Clean Air Act has now increased from $25,000 to $37,500.

This final rule also applies to section 203(a)(3)(A) and (B) of the Clean Air Act. Manufacturer/new car dealer penalties for installing aftermarket components that in any way bypass or compromise the vehicle manufacturer’s emissions control system is $37,500. The penalty for anyone else installing aftermarket components that in any way bypasses or compromise the vehicle manufacturer's emissions control system is $3,750. These penalties also apply to improper aftermarket catalytic converter replacements.

The EPA website has further information.

Emissions resources (February 2018)

There are many resources available for emissions testing and repairs on the Wisconsin Vehicle Inspection Program (WIVIP) website.

For additional questions, call 1-800-ODB-TEST (1-866-623-8378) to speak to a representative.



Fees - title and registration (August 2019)

The Department maintains a complete listing of vehicle fees online.

Final stage manufacturers must be licensed (January 2022)

Final stage manufacturers must have a Manufacturer’s license to do business in Wisconsin.

Does your business meet the requirements of a final-stage manufacturer below?

A final stage manufacturer is a person who performs such manufacturing operations on an incomplete vehicle that it becomes a complete vehicle and who owns the complete vehicle. Final stage manufacturers are sometimes referred to as second-stage manufacturers.

An incomplete vehicle is a chassis unit, with or without cab, intended for completion as a motor home or motor truck with permanently installed equipment designed for non-transportation purposes. This includes, but is not limited to, cranes, backhoes, etc.

Manufacturers are required to hold a type of license with WisDOT per Wis. Stat. §218.0114(2). This includes final stage manufacturers who finish the building process on either complete or incomplete vehicles , per Wis. Stat. §218.0101(20), and as further defined by Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 137.03(1)​ and Trans 137.03(3).

If you are uncertain whether your business meets the definition of a final stage manufacturer, or if you have questions about licensing, please contact the Dealer Licensing Unit (DLU) at 608-266-1425, or email

Finance Companies (Summer 2008)

Wisconsin Statutes §218.0114(1) states no sales finance company may engage in business as a sales finance company in this state without first securing a license from the Department of Financial Institutions, Division of Banking. In addition, Wis. Stat. §218.0116(1)(g) provides that a motor vehicle dealership's license may be denied, suspended or revoked for having sold a retail installment sales contract or consumer lease to a sales finance company that is not licensed by the division.

As noted above, a dealership could jeopardize their license if they sell any paper to an unlicensed sales finance company.

A list of all licensed Wisconsin sales finance companies can be found on the division's website.


Flood damaged vehicles (October 2017)

It may be difficult for consumers to identify whether floods have damaged a vehicle. The effects of such damage can be serious and may not be apparent until many months after the damage occurred. Wisconsin brands titles with a permanent brand "flood damage." Those vehicles that make it to Wisconsin without being branded may still cause your dealership disclosure issues. All vehicles being offered for sale must be inspected, and the Wisconsin Buyers Guide must be completed following Trans 139.02(15) (a) and (b) "Reasonable care:"

(a) For vehicle inspections, a standard that requires an interior and exterior inspection, an under-hood and under-vehicle inspection, and a test drive. It does not require taking the vehicle apart or running tests unless it is necessary to diagnose apparent symptoms. Brakes may require some disassembly to satisfy the requirements in Chapter Trans 305.

(b) For records inspections, a standard that requires providing information the dealership gets from manufacturer and auction notices: prior owner documents and disclosures, and their own vehicle inspection and repair records. It does not require contacting prior owners, or obtaining records of previous titles unless necessary to clarify inconsistent or questionable information that is apparent.

To assist consumers in identifying vehicles with possible flood damage, direct consumers to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) website. It offers an opportunity to check vehicle identification numbers of vehicles against a database.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation's Flood Damaged Vehicles and Other Title Brands webpage also offers consumers tips on what to look for.


FTC used car rule (January 2017)

On November 10, 2016, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the final amendments to its Used Car Rule. These amendments focused on the Federal Buyers Guide.

Wisconsin dealers are exempt from displaying this guide because Wisconsin regulations require dealers to post disclosures using the Wisconsin Buyers Guide.

Two notable changes to the Federal Buyers Guide that are not included on the current Wisconsin Buyers Guide are:

  • A reference to obtaining a title history at cars
  • A disclosure at the bottom of the guide advising Spanish speaking customers to ask their dealer for a Spanish buyers guide if the sale is conducted in Spanish

The FTC assured the Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that Wisconsin's exemption to the Used Car Rule's Buyers Guide is still intact, and no changes to the Wisconsin Buyers Guide are required at this time.



GPS devices (April 2016)

As of July 3, 2015, it became legal for a lien holder or an agent of a lien holder to install a GPS device on a vehicle in order to aid the repossession of the vehicle. This includes Buy-Here Pay-Here businesses, and any business that places a lien on the vehicle. No approval is required from DMV to perform these installations. Repossessions are regulated by the Department of Financial Institutions.

If you have questions regarding this law change please contact them directly.



Heavy truck sales - mandatory processing

See Mandatory processing for heavy trucks



Imported vehicles - Canadian vehicle trade-in requirements (October 2021)

You just discovered your customer’s trade-in vehicle was manufactured for sale in Canada. Should you take it in on trade? How can you confirm it can be legally operated in the US?

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) allows vehicles to be imported for private use and resale. Federal and state law requires vehicles to meet US standards to be legally operated on highways. Canadian vehicles not correctly imported to the US may be ineligible for title and/or registration, significantly impacting their resale value.

Who can import vehicles?

Registered Importers (RI) are recognized by the NHTSA to legally import foreign vehicles to the US. RIs affix an importer sticker to the door jamb to certify the vehicle meets US standards. Vehicles displaying the importer sticker can be titled and registered in Wisconsin.

Private individuals may also import vehicles for their personal use. Do not let the presence of a title fool you. An imported vehicle may be issued a title, even if it doesn’t meet US standards. Vehicles that do not meet US standards can be titled but are not eligible for registration and cannot be legally operated on public roadways.

If a dealer acquires a non-standard vehicle in trade and want the vehicle to be both titled and registered, they need to work with a RI to bring it up to US standards. Many RIs will not work on a vehicle they did not import themselves. This adds time and hassle when attempting to resell the vehicle.

What paperwork accompanies a Canadian vehicle imported from a RI?

When purchasing a vehicle directly from a RI, you will receive the following documents:
  • Bond release letter from NHTSA
  • Statement of Conformity
  • HS-7 Declaration
  • Canadian registration documents

​​How can I tell if a privately imported vehicle can be legally operated on public roads?

You can ask the customer to show you a copy of the HS-7 Declaration form to determine how the vehicle was imported. If the declaration form certifies the vehicle was imported under Box 2A or 2B, it meets US standards. If it was imported for any other reason, it does not meet US standards.

Is the vehicle new, or used?

Canadian vehicles do not have titles. As a result, an imported vehicle may still be considered "new". Wisconsin law defines a used vehicle as
  • Having been operated more than 6,000 miles OR
  • Having been operated more than 4,000 cumulative miles, and owned more than 120 days by the licensee currently offering the vehicle for sale OR​
  • Is a previous model year​​

If the vehicle does not meet one of these definitions, it is still considered "new" and can only be offered for sale by the franchised dealership.

What about vehicles sold at auction?

Auctions offer a platform for dealers to buy and sell vehicles. Auctions must disclose vehicle material history and prior use and facilitate the delivery of the vehicle title from selling to purchasing dealer. They are not required to verify the vehicle was properly imported.

When vehicle history and prior use indicates the vehicle is a Canadian import, purchasing dealers should check for an importer sticker.

Imported vehicles -Canadian vehicle disclosure requirements (Collector's Edition 2000; January 2021)

A vehicle imported from Canada will require the following disclosures to be offered for sale. Assume the incoming odometer disclosure on the Canadian provincial or territorial registration is in kilometers and the odometer reads kilometers.

The following steps must be followed:

  • Disclose the reading on the odometer statement as "actual." WisDOT will record the reading as actual. For example, a vehicle with 70,000 kilometers will be recorded on the Wisconsin title as "70,000 actual" without mentioning miles or kilometers.
  • Disclose that the vehicle was titled in Canada on the Wisconsin Buyers Guide or Wholesale Buyers Guide.
  • If the odometer reads kilometers, disclose the odometer on the Wisconsin Buyers Guide as "not legal" since the odometer does not register miles. Also, make the following disclosure in writing on the purchase contract: "WARNING! This vehicle cannot be legally operated on Wisconsin highways and may not be safe."
  • You can disclose the odometer reading as "actual" and the odometer as "legal" on the Wisconsin Buyers Guide if you replace the odometer with one that registers miles. Follow the guidelines on odometer replacement in the Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 154.09(2). The department will only title the vehicle as "actual" under this circumstance if you provide a signed statement from the repair shop along with the other required title documents. The signed statement must verify that the repair shop recalibrated the kilometers to miles and show the current mileage reading.

If the incoming odometer disclosure on the Canadian provincial or territory registration document is in miles and the odometer registers miles, you may disclose the odometer reading as you would on any other vehicle, even if the disclosure language doesn’t conform to Truth in Mileage Act requirements.

For details on how to handle other situations, such as a blank incoming odometer disclosure or odometer disclosure made on an unacceptable document (an auction block ticket, for example), contact the Dealer Licensing Unit for assistance.

A final caution: The department doesn’t recognize Canadian registration documents as privately titled documents. Therefore, if you obtain new vehicles from Canada you must be franchised to sell that make, or the vehicle must qualify as used under Trans 137.03(9) in order to be sold.


Junk RVs - see Recreational vehicles - junk RVs




Lease buyouts (November 2015)

In lease buyouts the lessor often isn't the dealership and therefore, when it comes time to execute a buyout to the lessee, the dealership will not possess the title.

In these situations the dealer will need to complete a retail installment contract and then obtain the title from the lessor with any applicable payoff.

Another solution is for the dealer to hold a power of attorney from the lessor allowing them to sign as owner and transfer ownership. It is recommended that dealerships hold a blanket Power of Attorney (POA), which empowers their customers (lessees) during a lease transaction to sign on behalf of the leasing institution. The POA would not empower the dealership directly; rather, the dealership would merely hold it. This gives the dealer added protection in that it will be clear the lessee has seen the MV-11, as otherwise the lessee's signature would not be on it. Additionally, should a dealer decide to have the lessor empower them directly, the dealer would need to ensure that different people sign as buyer and seller, to avoid running afoul of Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 154 and odometer disclosures (same person as buyer and seller).


Legal business name requirements (August 2019)

Wisconsin licensed dealers are required to use their full legal business name on all legal documents including but not limited to the following:

  • Purchase contracts
  • WI buyer's guide
  • MCO/MSO Title reassignments
  • ​Applications for title/registration (MV11)
  • Power of Attorney (MV2690)
  • Title/Registration Correction Request (MV1047​)
  • Dealer license applications/renewals

While the department allows the use of trade names, it must be accompanied by the full legal business name.

Here are the few acceptable variations to the full legal business name:

  • "And," "&," or "+" are acceptable substitutions for each other.
  • Omitting special characters not directly part of the name is acceptable.
  • Only business suffixes like "Inc," "LLC," etc., will be accepted in abbreviated form. These are part of the legal name and must be included.

Any MCO issued on or after October 1, 2018, that does not have the full legal business name, will be returned.

Contact your manufacturer directly to ensure your full legal business name is printed on the MCO. If you have any problems, please contact the Dealer Licensing Unit at (608) 266-1425. Have the name and contact information for your manufacturer representative available when you call.


Lessor bond requirement (October 2020)

A lessor must file with the Department a bond or policy of insurance for liability in the case of damages caused by the negligent operation of a leased vehicle, according to Wis. Stat. §344.51(1m). Statute sets the required minimum amount of coverage at $60,000.

Dealers whose name will appear as the lessor on the title of a leased vehicle are subject to this requirement. Dealers who facilitate leases between their customer and another party (e.g., a leased vehicle titled to the manufacturer's lending arm) are exempt from this rule.

For the purposes of this requirement, "lessor" is defined as "a person who, for compensation, leases a motor vehicle to a lessee to be operated by or with the consent of the lessee or who acquires a contract for the leasing of a motor vehicle from another person."

The Department requires all Dealer-lessors to submit proof of coverage or bond documentation to the Department by November 1, 2020.

Failure to maintain the required bond or liability insurance makes the dealer-lessor directly responsible for any damages caused by the negligent operation of a leased vehicle per Wis. Stat. §341.51(2) and you may be subject to forfeiture and sanctions against your dealer license.


Licensing - Finance personnel must be licensed (October 2017, Winter 2012)

Finance and insurance (F&I) personnel are required to be licensed as a motor vehicle salesperson.

The definition of a motor vehicle salesperson in Wis. Stat. §218.0101(24) includes "....or other person who is employed by a motor vehicle dealer for the purpose of selling or approving retail sales...."​

Furthermore, Wis Admin. Code ch. Trans 138.02(10) defines selling as " transfer or offer to transfer ownership of a motor vehicle for compensation...."


Licensing - Renewals require updated lease (January 2021)

Dealer license renewals are too often delayed when the department does not receive all required information. This includes copies of your current valid lease. When in doubt, always submit a copy of your current lease when submitting a renewal application.

If you have any questions regarding dealer licensing, contact the Dealer Licensing Unit at (608) 266-1425.

Licensing - Salesperson can sell after passing exam (October 2017, Spring 2013)

Newly-licensed salespeople do not need to wait until the dealership receives their salesperson license in the mail before beginning to sell vehicles. Salespeople are legal to sell as long as they have the receipt showing they took the salesperson exam.

Applicants' motor vehicle salesperson license number (required to be recorded, in part, on the motor vehicle purchase contract of vehicles they sell) is the same as their Wisconsin Driver License number. Salespeople awaiting their license card after passing the test may show the first eight digits of their Driver License number on purchase contracts they write.


Licensing - Suspension due to delinquent taxes (October 2017)

WisDOT will suspend licensed Wisconsin dealers, as well as individual licensees (sales, BID, buyer) if the Wisconsin Department of Revenue verifies there are delinquent taxes owed to the State of Wisconsin. The suspension will remain on any business and/or individual until those taxes are paid.

If those taxes are not paid within a timely manner, a warning letter from WisDOT will be mailed to dealership owners, and/or individual licensees. The letter will provide 30 days to pay the delinquent tax liability or their license(s) will be suspended.

If the taxes are not paid within 30 days, the licensees will receive a letter from WisDOT notifying them their license is suspended on the effective date in the letter.

If an individual licensee (sales, BID, buyer) is being suspended, that individual cannot buy or sell cars and must return their credentials to the DMV's Dealer Licensing Unit. If a dealership license is suspended, no vehicles may be bought or sold and a DMV investigator will retrieve any licenses, credentials, and license plates to hold until the suspension is removed.

This joint initiative between the Department of Revenue and the Department of Transportation began in July 2017.

Any questions pertaining to a tax liability and payment should be directed to the Special Procedures Unit at the WI Department of Revenue at (608) 264-0337 or (608) 264-0338.


License plate frames (October 2014)

Be aware unlawful display of registration includes failing to install a front plate, placing the registration sticker in a location other than directed by the DMV and also obstructing most or part of the plate. This is important to note because some license plate frames can obstruct a portion of the license plate. This obstruction can leave a driver at risk for being stopped by law enforcement and possibly cited. Therefore, the next time you are considering handing out a frame as a thank you, please make sure it conforms to DMV guidelines.


License required for out-of-state sellers (Special edition 2004)

Changes to the applicability sections of Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 138.01(2m), 138.02(10) and 139.01(3) and the definition of “sell” a vehicle, brought out-of-state sellers who sell and deliver vehicles to consumers within Wisconsin borders under the same regulatory control as dealerships located in the state. The law change creates substantially equal protections for consumers who buy from their local dealership or buy online for Wisconsin delivery. Internet sellers will now follow the same disclosure, contract, and record-keeping rules Wisconsin dealers are required to follow.

The rule changes the definition of "sell" a vehicle to include displaying, executing or accepting offers and "accepting or negotiating an order to purchase a vehicle placed by fax, telephone, the Internet, mail or some other means with a person within this state, if the vehicle purchased as a result of the order is delivered to the purchaser at a location within this state."

Vehicle sales that are delivered in Wisconsin trigger the requirement for a Wisconsin dealer license. However, there is no similar requirement for out-of-state sellers to hold a Wisconsin dealer license if their customers travel out of state for vehicle delivery— those transactions are not considered Wisconsin sales subject to WisDOT regulation.

Out-of-state dealers licensed as Wisconsin dealers are exempt under the rule from facilities requirements, as long as they keep required records at their business office and make documents available to DOT on request. These exemptions were critical to the success of the new license requirement for out-of-state sellers. Any requirement that unnecessarily burdened interstate commerce would have invited constitutional challenges that could have defeated the proposal entirely and prevented DOT from bringing Internet sellers under regulatory control.


Licensing suspension for delinquent taxes (October 2017)

WisDOT will suspend licensed Wisconsin dealers, as well as individual licensees (sales, BID, buyer) if the Wisconsin Department of Revenue verifies there are delinquent taxes owed to the State of Wisconsin. The suspension will remain on any business and/or individual until those taxes are paid.

If those taxes are not paid within a timely manner, a warning letter from WisDOT will be mailed to dealership owners, and/or individual licensees. The letter will provide 30 days to pay the delinquent tax liability or their license(s) will be suspended.

If the taxes are not paid within 30 days, the licensees will receive a letter from WisDOT notifying them their license is suspended on the effective date in the letter. If an individual licensee (sales, BID, buyer) is being suspended, that individual cannot buy or sell cars and must return their credentials to the DMV's Dealer Licensing Unit. If a dealership license is suspended, no vehicles may be bought or sold and a DMV investigator will retrieve any licenses, credentials, and license plates to hold until the suspension is removed.

This joint initiative between the Department of Revenue and the Department of Transportation began in July 2017.

Any questions pertaining to a tax liability and payment should be directed to the Special Procedures Unit at the WI Department of Revenue at (608) 264-0337 or (608) 264-0338.


A | BCDEF | G | H | IJ | K | LM | NOP | Q | RST | UVW | X | Y | Z |



Mandatory processing for heavy trucks (January 2020)

eMV PARTNER includes the ability for an organization to process heavy motor vehicles.

To comply with Wisconsin law, the electronic processing of heavy truck sales will become mandatory beginning on March 1, 2020. The exception to this requirement are vehicles that are for hire or have a registered weight over 54,000 lbs.

Applications submitted for manual processing (via mail to WisDOT or taken to a field station) may be subject to the $65 dealer processing surcharge.


Manual processing - mail to DOT form (October 2018)

DMV requires the MV2132 Request for Electronic Processing - Dealer and Agent "Mail to DOT" form to be included when a dealership mails a title-registration application to DMV for processing. Secured parties (lenders) must use the MV2142 Request for Electronic Processing - Lien Holder form. If the reason that the application cannot be processed electronically is not listed on the form, fill in the reason/error message under "Other" on the form or include a screen print of the error message.

Without the MV2132 form, it is not clear that your dealership is unable to process the application electronically, and the dealership may be liable for the $15 processing fee and $50 surcharge, per Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 141.


Material history (Spring 2012)

Wis. Admin. Code ch. ​Trans 139.04(6) talks about disclosure on the Wisconsin Buyer's Guide. The Code states that you need to disclose all material history, prior use and title brands. Dealers must disclose the vehicle's prior use (personal use, rental, lease, etc.) and if the vehicle has any title brands. But what about material history? This portion of disclosure is often overlooked.

Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.02(10) defines something as "material" if a reasonable person would attach importance to its existence, or a seller knows, or had reason to know, that a buyer would regard it as important. If a buyer specifically requests information, that information is also deemed "material."

If you purchase a vehicle at auction that has some cosmetic damage to the bumper, it can easily be fixed by having the bumper painted. This may be an item you don't disclose on the Buyer's Guide because it doesn't affect the structural integrity or is insignificant to the value of the vehicle.

If a prospective customer asks if you did any repairs to the vehicle, the fact that you painted the bumper now becomes "material" because the customer specifically requests the information. On the flip side, if a vehicle has a blown head gasket, a reasonable person would consider that important, and it would need to be disclosed without the person requesting the information.

In this electronic age, many dealers make use of information services such as Carfax and Autocheck. These reports may give information about issues that occurred many years before you acquired the vehicle. Often the vehicle may have been in another jurisdiction or in an accident. Once you run the report and learn information about that vehicle, it too may become "material." Since you now have information a vehicle was in an accident, and a customer asks if it was in an accident, you would need to disclose that "material" information.

What about wholesale transactions? Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.04(8) talks about the wholesale disclosure requirements. It states that you need to disclose all material history, prior use and title brands just like a retail transaction.

Many wholesale dealers, or retail dealers wholesaling a vehicle, are under the misconception that they do not need to disclose any information except for the vehicle's history and title brands. In a wholesale transaction, you need to disclose any material history of which you have knowledge.

If you have any doubt about whether some information is "material" WisDOT always recommends: disclose, disclose, disclose! This will help avoid unhappy customers that may file a complaint. If you have any questions, call your local field investigator.

Midwest Fee Calculator (April 2021)


Missing document letters (January 2017)

DMV often sends out letters requesting missing documents, forms or fees. When returning those missing items, please include the original letter that was sent to you. It's important for our processors to match up the items that you send back to us with any documents that DMV already has in its possession.

Our processing system scans all items as they are received, making it possible for any processor to handle incoming work. This system scans the letter you send back, along with your items, and links them electronically with the work already in progress. By including the letter, you help make processing more efficient and the product(s) get to your customer faster.


Missing plate or sticker inventory (April 2016)

If you discover license plate or decal inventory missing, including temporary license plates, DMV's Automated Processing Partnership System (APPS) Program Standards require you to report it.

If the Agent discovers plates or stickers are missing at a later date, the Agent should call the DMV License Plate and Postal Services Unit within 24 hours, or the next business day at (608) 266-1473. Additionally, a written statement with all known facts must be emailed to within 48 hours.

MV2488 Vehicle Transfer and Odometer Mileage Statement form - best practices (July 2021)

The MV2488 Vehicle Transfer and Odometer Mileage Statement form is available for use in limited situations when the title is not available.

The MV2488 form is not a replacement for the original ownership document (title or Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin). The title must always physically accompany the MV2488 form when application for transfer is made.

Usage of the MV2488, for private party use, will remain the same.

When can the MV2488 be used?

  • In title-to-lienholder (T2LH) scenarios, the MV2690 would still be the most practical choice for Wisconsin licensed dealers, since it allows sale of a vehicle prior to receiving the title when the dealer has access to the vehicle’s electronic record. Sellers would use the MV2488 to give the odometer disclosure when the title is held by a lien holder. The purchaser would wait for the title and, once the title arrives, the title would be signed by the purchaser in the first available reassignment.
    • The two forms must travel together and no information is transferred to the title.
    • The title MUST be in hand before offering the vehicle for sale in this scenario.
  • For third-party processors, when holding the title, the MV2488 can be provided to collect assignments and odometer disclosure as mailing the title would create a risk of loss of the ownership document.
    • Whenever possible the actual ownership documents should be used. This option is only to mitigate loss of the title when mailing due to missing information and/or corrections.
  • When the MV11 is printed on plain paper and a secure odometer disclosure is required.
  • With a dealer retail sale, where the purchasing dealer has signed the title in the final purchaser reassignment and is now performing a retail sale, all title reassignments are full. Final transfer is applied for on the non-secure MV11, the final reassignment would then be collected on the MV2488.
  • When there are reassignment errors, the MV2488 can be used to collect the correct assignment and/or odometer disclosure. It must be accompanied by a Statement of Intent and the original ownership document.
  • In lost title situations, when a vehicle is traded-in and the verified owner claims the title to be lost. The customer must complete ONE of the below options:
    • Apply for a replacement title. Once having the title, complete the reassignment on that title to the dealer.
      • This option is recommended to avoid complications due to child support liens or product holds. Third-party agents are responsible for researching the vehicle record. The vehicle may not be offered for sale until the title is in hand. Complete the MV2119 Replacement Title Application, including Section E, and submit an MV2488 to transfer odometer and interest in the vehicle to the purchaser.
    • Complete the MV2119 Replacement Title Application, including Section E, and submit an MV2488 to transfer odometer and interest in the vehicle to the purchaser.
      • The title will need to be applied for and received BEFORE the vehicle is eligible for any future transfer.
      • The MV2488 must accompany the title once the replacement has been issued.
      • The purchaser’s reassignment MUST be on the title. The MV2488 is to be used to release interest when the title is lost, it cannot be used in lieu of the title for reassignment.
      • Third-party agents are responsible to verify ownership, signature requirements, brands, status, and/or child support liens which may be part of the title record.

Situations where the MV2488 cannot be used

  • Extending the ownership chain on a title. When title reassignments are full, a new title must still be applied for.
    • Reminder: An MV11 (on secured paper when an odometer disclosure is required) can be used as the last chain of ownership to a retail customer
  • Accepting a vehicle on trade or transfer. The title continues to be the ownership document.
  • Sending a vehicle to auction. All current processes remain the same.



Name change policies for individuals (Spring 2006)

New versus used vehicles (January 2021)

Ask someone to explain the difference between a new vehicle and a used vehicle and they might cringe. Why? In short, Wisconsin law has two definitions for a "new" vehicle. To help you understand, the first thing you must know is that both definitions of "new" only apply to licensed franchise dealers.

Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 137.03(7) clarifies the definition of a new vehicle as it relates to a dealer's need for a franchise agreement in order to sell a vehicle from a manufacturer's new vehicle line. It reads, "New motor vehicle" for purposes of this chapter and enforcement of s. 218.0116 (1) (n), Stats., means any motor vehicle other than a used motor vehicle as defined in sub. (9). Sub 9 reads, "Used motor vehicle" means:

  • Any motor vehicle which has been privately titled, or
  • Any motor vehicle which has not been privately titled, but:
    1. Has been operated more than 6,000 miles, or
    2. Has been operated more than 4,000 cumulative miles, and owned more than 120 days by the licensee currently offering the vehicle for sale, or
    3. Has sustained damage while in-transit and has been acquired by the motor carrier from the motor vehicle manufacturer because of the liability agreement between the manufacturer and carrier or has sustained damage while being operated under a rental agreement as defined in s. 344.57 (5), Stats., or a lease agreement under ch. 429, Stats., or
    4. Is of a previous model year. A vehicle shall be considered to be a previous model year after December 31 of the calendar year identical to the manufacturer's designated model year.

If the vehicle you want to sell is not "used" as described above in sub. (9), then you must have a franchise agreement with the manufacturer of that make in order to sell it.

If you have determined that you need a franchise agreement to sell a specific manufacturer's new vehicle line, and you have obtained the franchise agreement, your next step is to determine if vehicle is new or used for the purposes of selling and advertising. Those definitions are found in Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.02(11) and (20).

Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.02(11) – "New" means any untitled or non-privately titled motor vehicle of the stated model year which has not been a demonstrator and has not been operated more than 200 miles for purposes other than manufacturer tests, pre-delivery tests by a dealer, dealer exchange or delivery.

If the vehicle meets this definition of new, you may sell and advertise it as a new vehicle, using a Monroney Label.

Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.02(20) - "Used" means any motor vehicle other than a new motor vehicle and includes executive or demonstrator.​

If the vehicle meets this definition of used, you must sell and advertise it as a used vehicle and complete a Wisconsin Buyers Guide.

Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.03(12) specifically states that, "Franchised new vehicle dealers, distributors and manufacturers are the only licensees permitted to advertise or sell new vehicles. Since Trans 139 gives its own definition of a "new" vehicle, it means that the Trans 139.03(11) definition of "new" can only apply to franchise licensed dealers. A non-franchised dealer can never advertise or sell a vehicle as "new".

To provide a couple of real-life examples:

  • If you are a franchise licensed dealer as determined by Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 137.03(7) and you have a vehicle on your lot that has been test driven by consumers for 260 miles, you have to disclose that vehicle as used and complete a Wisconsin Buyers Guide because it does not meet the definition of a new vehicle in Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.02(11) for the purposes of selling and advertising.
  • If you are a non-franchised dealer as determined by Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 137.03(7) and you have a vehicle on your lot that is 3 years old with 1 mile on it, you must sell and advertise it as used, and complete a Wisconsin buyers guide, because Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.03(12) states that only franchised new vehicle dealers are permitted to advertise or sell new vehicles.

Additional information can be obtained by contacting your Field Investigator and in WATDA Bulletin #6 5/3/19.​


Odometer - actual versus exempt reading (January 2017)

When completing the odometer reading on the Wisconsin Buyers Guide, do not check the EXEMPT box and also write in the actual numerical odometer reading from the vehicle. We recognize this may assist with selling the vehicle. However, if a complaint arises regarding the odometer reading, the dealer will be responsible for the reading they disclose.

It is also important that dealers know they have the ability to maintain an "actual" mileage status on vehicles over 10 years old if the status has never been EXEMPT before. DMV's titling system will automatically change the odometer status of a vehicle to EXEMPT once it is over 10 years old. If a dealer wishes to maintain the "actual" odometer status on a vehicle over 10 years old, they can mail in the MV11, supporting paperwork and a MV1047 Third Party Request for Title or Registration Correction form requesting the ACTUAL odometer status and mileage reading to the Agent Partnership Unit. Again, this can only be done if the vehicle's odometer status is not currently or has never been in EXEMPT status.


Odometer -not actual as odometer status (Fall 2010)

In the past, WisDOT has been able to go back and change the "not actual" status to "actual" upon receipt of a valid MV2488 form. Effective July 1, 2010, this is no longer the case. Once the status of an odometer reading is recorded as "not actual" it cannot be changed back to "actual" unless the processor made an error at the time of processing.

As a third party processor, we want to remind you that you cannot process ANY incomplete applications. This includes applications that do not have the odometer statement completed by the seller. If, for any reason, this information is not provided by the seller, it must be entered as "not actual" when processing and documented as an odometer reading provided by the buyer. Examples of this are when the seller leaves the odometer reading blank on the title and the buyer fills it in.

Buyers should be made aware of the effect this may have on the value of the vehicle they are purchasing. Their best option is to get the MV2488 (Vehicle Transfer and Odometer Mileage Statement) completed before processing the title. Again, once the status is captured as "not actual," it will not be changed back.


Odometer - disclosure (October 2018)

Federal and state laws require the seller, including Wisconsin licensed dealerships, to provide an odometer disclosure when there is a transfer of ownership, EXCEPT when:

  • The vehicle is 10 or more model years old
  • The vehicle is non-motorized or a moped
  • The vehicle has a registered gross weight or gross vehicle weight rating of more than 16,000 pounds
  • A new motor vehicle is acquired by a dealer directly from the manufacturer
  • A new motor vehicle acquired by a Wisconsin dealer from a dealer licensed in another state which does not require dealers licensed in that state to disclose odometer mileage when reassigning ownership of a new motor vehicle to another dealer

Wisconsin licensed dealers must verify the title or MCO/MSO being transferred has all required odometer requirements. A seller's failure to disclose the odometer may result in an odometer status of "Not Actual" or DMV returning your title application.

Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 154 requires the following:

"When transferring ownership of a motor vehicle, each transferor shall disclose the vehicle's mileage to the transferee in writing in the designated spaces on a conforming title..."

"To reassign ownership, a dealer shall complete the reassignment of ownership and odometer disclosure in the designated spaces on the manufacturer's document of origin."


Odometer - changes to NHTSA odometer rules (October 2020; January 2020; October 2019)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a final rule establishing standards under which states may allow for electronic odometer disclosures.

Some highlights of the new rule include:

  • Resets exemptions so that vehicles that are 20 years old or older (rather than 10) are exempt from mileage reporting
  • Allows both physical and electronic titles and powers of attorney
  • Defines "access", "electronic power of attorney", "electronic title", "jurisdiction", "original power of attorney", and "transferor" more precisely
  • Allows authorized modifications to electronic records

NTHSA proposed these changes to have an effective date of January 1, 2020. Shortly after the rule was published, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) petitioned NHTSA to postpone implementation of the new rules until 2021. AAMVA stated several states would not be able to complete the necessary database changes before the 2020 deadline.

NHTSA approved AAMVA's request and the new odometer rules will become effective January 1, 2021. This means the current 10-year rule for odometer exemptions will remain in place throughout 2020.

If you have any questions on proper odometer disclosures, please contact our Agent Partnership Unit at 608-266-3566 or


Off-premise sales (Spring 2013)

Information for holding off-premise sales has its own webpage.


Online sales and "right to cancel" (October 2020)

The Wisconsin Consumer Act gives customers the right to cancel certain consumer transactions within three business days. The three-day right to cancel applies when:

  • A finance charge is assessed, or a cash transaction exceeds $25; AND
  • The dealer initiates a vehicle sale or lease by face-to-face contact away from the dealer’s licensed location, or by mail or telephone directed to the customer, and the paperwork is completed away from the dealership.

Paperwork signed electronically is considered "completed away from the dealership." How does this affect vehicle sales when paperwork is completed virtually or online? Let's consider two potential scenarios:

Scenario 1: A customer contacts the dealership by email, or sends an inquiry directly through the dealer website, about a 2020 Picard Piranha coupe, Stock #01234. The paperwork is completed electronically. There is no right to cancel. Since the customer initiated the conversation about the vehicle, "right to cancel" does not apply.

Scenario 2: A customer contacts the dealership by email, or sends an inquiry directly through the dealer website, about a 2020 Picard Piranha coupe, Stock #01234. No deal is completed. One month later, the dealer takes into inventory another 2020 Piranha​, Stock #05555, and reaches back out to the customer to let them know they have a similar vehicle available.

The customer agrees to purchase Stock #0555 and the paperwork is completed electronically. The customer has the right to cancel. While the customer initially contacted the dealer about vehicle Stock #01234, it was the dealer who later contacted the customer about vehicle Stock #05555. Since this communication was unsolicited, the Wisconsin Consumer Act takes effect.

Whenever the dealer is the one to initiate the conversation about the sale online, and paperwork is completed electronically, "right to cancel" applies to the sale. WisDOT recommends dealers keep a record of communications with customers related to any sale completed electronically, in case questions arise regarding the nature of the sale.


Opt-out (October 2018 special edition)

The dissemination of DMV data through bulk record sales has been required by state law for many years. That same law also allows an individual to withhold their name and address from any request of 10 records or more. If your customer wishes to withhold their name they need to complete the ​MV3592.

The PARTNER title and registration processing system gives you the ability to complete this request for your customer while processing the title application.


A | BCDEF | G | H | IJ | K | LM | NOP | Q | RST | UVW | X | Y | Z |




Information and resources for eMV PARTNER has its own webpage.


Plate transfers (Summer 2008)

All cars and light trucks must display temporary or permanent license plates in order to be operated on public roads. An owner who has plates to transfer meets this requirement by listing the plate number on their paper or electronic application and by putting the plates on the newly purchased vehicle.

In many instances, the customer may prefer to keep the plates they are currently using. A customer need not transfer plates from a trade-in vehicle; they may transfer any plate they own that meets the registration transfer requirements. If a customer has a valid plate they wish to transfer, it is not necessary to make the customer purchase a new set of plates. The issuance of a second set of plates costs the customer additional registration fees and leaves them with a valid, unused plate that they may have just recently renewed.

Should a customer decide that he or she would like to privately sell the vehicle from which transfer plates came, potential buyers may not test drive the vehicle without valid registration. You may wish to educate your customer on this point; however, your responsibility is for the vehicle leaving the sales lot. You should still transfer a plate from that vehicle rather than issue new plates if the customer wishes to do so.


Product warranty disclosures (Spring 2004)

Over the years, dealerships have sold certain engine additives reputed to improve vehicle performance or durability and have marketed those additives as warranties on a vehicle. These engine additives carry a "product warranty," but are not "vehicle warranties" or "service agreements." Avoid warranty misrepresentation complaints by clearly disclosing these product warranties on the purchase contract so the purchaser understands they have not purchased a vehicle warranty or service agreement.

Disclose engine-additive product warranties in the following manner:

  • On the Motor Vehicle Purchase Contract, in the warranty section, check the appropriate box regarding any existing manufacturer warranty on the vehicle. Do not disclose the vehicle additive product warranty as a manufacturer warranty.
  • Under "Dealer Warranty Information," check "As Is." Leave box 7 and 8 "Service Contract Information" blank unless the dealership is offering some kind of warranty or service agreement (other than the engine additive product warranty). Do not disclose the engine additive product warranty as a dealer warranty.
  • On the purchase contract, under "Other Conditions of Sale," write in "Purchase of {INSERT BRAND NAME} product warranty, not a warranty or service contract on this vehicle."
  • In the price calculation, use line "1d" "Other" to show the product warranty name and price.
  • Keep in mind that any vehicle warranty or service agreement administered by a third party is a form of insurance (Chapter Ins 5.01, Wisconsin Administrative Code). Therefore, the administrator of any vehicle warranty or service agreement must be registered with the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI).


Progressive discipline policy: consequences of breaking the rules (October 2013) - updated discipline policy coming soon





Recalls on used vehicles (Fall 1998)

Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.04(9) requires dealers to take the following steps before delivering a used vehicle for which they hold a franchise to a retail buyer:

  1. Find out from the manufacturer if the vehicle is the subject of any unperformed manufacturer recalls.
  2. If there are any unperformed manufacturer recalls, either perform them, or agree in writing to perform them at a time convenient for the customer, no later than 20 days after delivery (unless the unavailability of parts or other circumstances beyond the dealer's control prevents performance within that time).
  3. Disclose in writing to the purchaser any unperformed manufacturer recalls.

The dealerships involved in the study all reported that recalls are checked when a vehicle is first entered into inventory, even before the pre-sale inspection is done. One of the dealerships checks all used vehicles in inventory monthly for open recalls. Their concern is that if a recall is recorded after the pre-sale inspection is done, they wouldn't otherwise know about the recall until after the vehicle is sold and brought back in for service. (No vehicles with open recalls were found at that dealership.)

These points clarify some of the most frequently asked questions about open recalls:

  • Trans 139 covers manufacturer recalls. Manufacturers often refer to these as "Product Recall Campaigns," or "Campaign Bulletins." "Service Bulletins" and "Special Service Campaigns" aren’t recalls.
  • Recall disclosure must be made in writing — in any way you choose.
  • Franchised RV dealers aren’t required to perform manufacturer recalls on the chassis (e.g. Winnebago dealer with a GMC recall). Dealers must perform recall repairs only on makes for which they have a franchise.
  • A dealership does not need to check for recalls on makes for which it is not franchised at a specific location, even if the dealer group has that franchise at one of its other locations. For vehicles offered for sale at a given site, the dealership will do recalls only for the makes that site is franchised for.
  • A dealer who is approved to perform warranty work on another franchised vehicle is not required to disclose recalls for any franchise other than which they are licensed to sell. For example, only franchised Jeep dealers would have to do Jeep recalls; Chrysler dealers approved to do warranty work on Jeeps are not required to disclose Jeep recalls.


Recreational vehicles - "junk" RVs (January 2021)

Only licensed recreational vehicle (RV) dealers can sell "junk" RVs.

Someone who sells two or more new or used recreational vehicles in a calendar year is required to have a recreational vehicle dealers license per Wis. Stat. §218.11(1) and Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 142.02(7)(b). A licensed recreational vehicle dealer can sell an RV with a “junked” status on the title because RVs do not meet the definition of a motor vehicle, which is the triggering term requiring a salvage license.

However, recreational vehicles are included in the definition of a "vehicle" per Wis. Stat. §340.01(74), therefore all normal junking procedures must be followed. Any person owning or possessing a "junk" vehicle must declare the "junked" status to the department within ten days per Wis. Stat. §342.34.

An RV with a junked title "status" is still an RV and 218.011(1) licensing requirements apply if selling them.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your Field Investigator.


Recreational vehicle buyer's guide - see Buyer's guide - recreational vehicle


Refunds on canceled transactions (October 2018)

A dealer may cancel a transaction and refund the down payment (Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 138.03). However, what happens when the customer wants to cancel the transaction but has provided a down payment?

While the Trans code directs a dealer to refund a down payment when they cancel a deal, it doesn't address a customer request and time limit. If the dealer accepted and deposited a personal check as a down payment, they are allowed to ensure the account has sufficient funds before returning their payment with a dealer check. If the dealership accepted a certified check or cash, the refund should be provided immediately.

Registration corrections - see Titles - corrections policy


Registration - transfers from dealer's name (October 2019)

Wisconsin dealers will register vehicles in the dealership's name for a variety reasons. Wisconsin law will only allow a license plate to be transferred to another vehicle after it's been valid for 30 days. If a dealership wants to register a vehicle, it can either transfer a plate that has been valid for over 30 days or obtain new registration.

Please see Wis. Admin Code ch. Trans 154.13(1)(f) for further information.

Renewing your dealer license (January 2022)

Your dealer license is good for a period of two years, based upon when the license was issued. The expiration date is displayed on your dealer license certificate. About 60 days prior to expiration, you will receive a renewal application from the department. You must return your renewal application before your license expires.

Missing information, missing fees, or incomplete applications can lead to delays in renewing your license. Dealers whose licenses expire may be required to submit a new dealer application prior to being reinstated, causing interruptions to your business.

Replacement titles - dealers prohibited from obtaining replacement titles on DOT public webpage​ (April 2021)

Dealers that use the department's public webpage to obtain replacement titles are committing multiple violations that are grounds for suspension or revocation of their license pursuant to Wis. Stats. §218.0116(1)(f).

Only the titled owner on record with the Department can request a replacement title per Wis. Stat. §342.06(2).​

Using the customer’s personal identifying information to obtain a replacement title and having it mailed to the dealership creates an unlawfully obtained title in violation of Wis. Stat. §342.32(1). Violation of Wis. Stat. §342.32(1) makes the dealer guilty of a Class H felony, per Wis. Stat. §342.32(3).​

A recent review of department records has shown numerous dealers may have used customer's personally identifying information (PII) to obtain replacement titles through the department's public webpage, Dealers identified as having obtained replacement titles in this manner were sent an educational/warning letter advising them to discontinue the practice. Continued violations may result in the department taking more serious enforcement actions.

We encourage all dealers to consider the following best practices when the need for a replacement title arises:
  • If the customer did not bring the vehicle title with them, have the customer go home and return when they have the title in hand.
  • Designate a computer or tablet that can be used by customers to go online and request the replacement title. Customer's paying with their own debit or credit card is imperative.
  • Always have the titled owner on record with the department obtain the replacement title themselves. The same applies to missing or outdated driver licenses.
  • Dealers should NEVER assist a customer with obtaining a replacement driver license.​

Rescinded sale policy (January 2020)

To further protect consumers and maintain accurate vehicle and customer records, the Dealer and Agent Section has updated its Rescinded Sale policy. When considering a rescinded sale, Dealers should be aware of the following changes to the Rescinded Sale form and policy.

  • Applications for rescinding a sale must be submitted to the DMV within 45 days of the sale being rescinded.
  • The buyer must return the vehicle within seven business days of taking legal ownership. Previously, it was seven calendar days.
    • For the purposes of titling, ownership is considered the date of signing the Title application (the signing date is day 1).
  • The signing of the application by an agent of the dealership and the customer must be witnessed. An additional signature line has been added. No notarization is necessary.
  • Any new plates issued must be recovered and returned with the rescinded sale form unless a replacement vehicle has been provided. No refund of registration fees will be given for plates not returned.

For new vehicles

  • A copy of the original purchase contract must be submitted with the Rescinded Sale application.
  • One of the following must be submitted:
    • Title signed and dated, with odometer disclosure, from the customer to the dealership
    • If title is held by lender, an MV2488 signed and dated, with odometer disclosure, from the customer to the dealership. This must accompany the title when received from the lender.
  • The DMV will return the MCO to the dealership upon completion of the rescinded sale request.

Dealerships should not offer the vehicle for sale until the sale has been rescinded and the MCO has been returned to them by the DMV. Dealerships should be aware this process may be used when initial financing falls through, but the dealership cannot demand the vehicle be returned for this purpose. The dealer must find alternate financing if the customer chooses to keep the vehicle.

Changes to the Rescinded Sale Policy and the accompanying form, ​MV2340 Dealer / Agent Rescinded Sale Statement of Fact, are effective March 1, 2020.

All tax related questions should be directed to the Department of Revenue at 608-266-2776.​


Sales Taxes (April 2013)

Taxpayers with sales and use tax questions related to a vehicle or otherwise should contact the Department of Revenue directly. Information provided by other state agencies or entities is not authoritative and does not preclude audit or related collections actions by DOR.

The sales tax information on the Department of Transportation's Form MV-11 (which camper, trailer and motor vehicle dealers use) has to do with vehicle registration functions and does not constitute a compliance check for DOR purposes. Camper, trailer and auto dealers report and pay Wisconsin sales and use tax via DOR Form ST-12, Wisconsin Sales Tax and Use Tax Return. The Department of Transportation's Form MV-11 is not a substitute or replacement for DOR Form ST-12.


Salvage dealer - 2015 law changes (November 2015)

On November 1, 2015 the Wisconsin Legislature changed the law in two key places regarding salvage dealers and their business.

The first change restricts Type 4 Salvage Dealers (now legally known as "Scavengers") from using Junk Bills of Sale to receive motor vehicles.

The second change requires all Salvage Dealers to check for a lien, either electronically or by inspecting the physical title, before accepting a vehicle.

The lien look-up feature is free and can be used by anyone, dealers or the public. We encourage all Salvage Dealers to keep copies of the document they used to accept the vehicle and screen shots of the lien verification.


Service fees (January 2020, Winter 2012, Summer 2002)

A service fee is an optional fee assessed by a dealer against a retail buyer that reflects the dealer's cost for complying with mandated state and federal laws. A service fee is NOT a government fee or a processing fee, nor is it required by law.

Wisconsin Administrative Code Trans 139.05(8) allows dealers to assess a reasonable service fee. Even though current law does not mandate a maximum amount for what may be charged, it must be reasonable in relation to services associated with compliance of state and federal laws, verifications and public safety.

To properly disclose the service fee to a retail buyer, the fee must be listed on the Wisconsin Buyer's Guide for used vehicles or on a supplemental label for new vehicles. When advertising a vehicle for sale online, you do not need to print the service fee amount if the advertisement clearly and conspicuously discloses that the advertised price does not include the optional fee.

If a dealer does charge a service fee, the following disclosure must be on the purchase or lease contract: "A service fee is not required by law but may be charged to motor vehicle purchasers or lessees for services related to compliance with state and federal laws, verifications and public safety, and must be reasonable."

Finally, if a retail buyer or the Department requests information about what services are included in the service fee, the selling dealer must provide a written disclosure of the services included in the fee.

The Department hopes this clarification will assist dealers in properly charging and disclosing service fees. If you have further questions about service fees, please contact your field investigator.

See also Advertising -service fee disclosures


Service fees - allowed charges (January 2021)

Per the appropriate use of the service fee authorized by Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.05, the following is a list of costs dealers can recoup from customers with a service fee:

  • Perform vehicle safety inspection
  • Complete Wisconsin Buyers Guide
  • Inspect title to verify ownership and mileage
  • Check for recalls. Only franchised dealers qualify
  • Purchase and complete required forms and contracts
  • Disclose lemon law notices and relevant manufacturer information
  • Collect and remit taxes for customer purchases
  • Safeguard Rule, Red Flags and OFAC compliance
  • Required transaction document storage

This list includes many of the provisions allowed since 2002 but removes those items that don’t fit within the scope of the law. This change is in response to the department discovering many examples of service fees being improperly calculated.

The law allows the department to determine whether a service fee is reasonable. Any service fee found to be unreasonable or noncompliant will result in disciplinary action and customer refunds. We encourage dealers to regularly review service fees to ensure they meet the above standards.

In contrast to many neighboring states, the law doesn’t place a cap on the service fee so the industry can account for all market variables that affect their dealership. The department will continue to audit service fees and make additional amendments to this policy as needed to help maintain dealer success while avoiding consumer harm.


Service fees - RV dealers (October 2017)

Effective September 23, 2017, recreational vehicle dealers can assess an additional service fee for completing any sales related vehicle inspections or forms. Like motor vehicle dealers, this fee must be reasonable and justified.


Special plates -Complete list of available special plates


Special plates - manual plate transfers (April 2020)

If a special plate is being transferred from an auto to a light truck, or vice versa, the application must be mailed to WisDOT for manual processing. The application must include the appropriate full registration fees for the re-registration of the special plate.

Example: The customer has a Musky Clubs Alliance (MCA) special plate on an automobile. The plate type/registration combination is MCA/AUT. The customer purchases a new light truck and wants to transfer the plate, changing the registration type from AUT to LTK. Third party agents and dealers cannot change the registration type and will need to mail this application to WisDOT for manual processing.

Include full registration fees as though a new plate is being issued, based on the date of delivery or date of operation for the new registration type.

You can find a complete list of vehicle license plate fees on the WisDOT website: Annual registration fee including special plate donation fee. Keep in mind that a wheel tax may also apply.


Surety bond versus liability insurance (June 2015)

One of the requirements of your dealer license is to maintain a $50,000 surety bond or irrevocable letter of credit. Per state law this bond is in place "for the benefit of any person who sustains a loss because of an act of a motor vehicle dealer...." This bond is used for those rare occurrences when a dealer is negligent in their responsibilities and a customer suffers a loss as a result.

Wis. Stat. §344.62 states, "No person may operate a motor vehicle upon a highway in this state unless the owner or operator of the vehicle has in effect a motor vehicle liability policy with respect to the vehicle being operated." The motor vehicle liability policy referenced is not covered by your surety bond.

If you plan to operate any vehicle in your inventory on a public highway you must possess vehicle liability insurance on that vehicle. Your surety bond is not a valid substitute for this requirement.



Test drives with dealer plates (October 2014)

The use of a dealer plate is permitted on test drives as long as the vehicle is going to be offered for sale and is being operated for the purpose of identifying any mechanical concerns. However, a "Not Inspected For Sale" sign must be posted in the vehicle during the entire test drive. By doing this, you are compliant with Wis. Stat. §341.47(1)(d) which allows for dealer plates to be used for the "reconditioning of vehicles." You will also comply with Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 139.04(6)(a)(c)(1) which allows a "Not inspected for sale" sign to be posted in lieu of the Wisconsin Buyers Guide prior to offering the vehicle for sale.


Titles - corrections policy (October 2019)

The Business & Consumer Services Unit will not accept correction requests when a title or registration is processed correctly from information on the original paperwork. Any change that varies from the original paperwork is a new application, not a correction.

Change requests that were originally correct will be handled as new transactions and will require the appropriate forms and fees.

Any ownership or lien changes, additions or removals should be processed as a new application to comply with Wis. Admin. Code chs. Trans 141 and Trans 148.

Dealers and lenders should work collaboratively to ensure each has the necessary document to process the new applications. Dealers and lenders should be aware a $5 processing fee and $20 surcharge may be required for WisDOT to process these title transactions.


Titles - customer requests to examine vehicle title (October 2013; Spring 2004)

Wisconsin State Trans 139.04(7)(b) requires the dealer to show the title to perspective customers. The name and address of the former owner(s) is not considered disclosure of personal information and is therefore not covered under the privacy law.


Titles - dealer applying for title (October 2018)

Dealers are prohibited from applying for titles in the dealership name (Wis. Stat. §342.16(1)(a), and Wis. Admin. Code ch. Trans 154.13) except in the following circumstances:

  • All the reassignment spaces on the title have been completed.
  • The title is nonconforming.
  • The motor vehicle has or was previously registered in any state with a gross vehicle weight rating of 16,000 pounds or more.
  • A new title is necessary to correct information which had been written or printed on the title.
  • The motor vehicle is a salvage vehicle and the dealer is required to apply for a salvage vehicle certificate of title pursuant to Wis. Stat. §342.15 (2).
  • The motor vehicle is also being registered under Wis. Stat​. §341.267 or 341.47 (2).
  • The vehicle is being transferred to another dealer and the current title is one which had been held by the registered owner's secured party and on which the dealer applicant had completed an odometer disclosure statement via a conforming power of attorney form completed by the registered owner.

Manufacturer programs or rebates requiring the dealer to title the vehicle in their name do not comply with Wisconsin law unless one or more of the above criteria are met.

As a reminder, if a dealer participates in one of these programs and obtains title and registration in the dealership name, the vehicle must be advertised, disclosed and sold as a used vehicle after program use.


Titles - held by lienholder (February 2018)

When you take a vehicle in on trade and the Wisconsin title is held by a lien holder, be sure to have your trade customer complete an MV2690 Power of Attorney form. You'll also need to run the VIN number in your processing system inquiry and print that screen. That inquiry printout is your proof that the title was held by a lien holder at the time of the trade, and that you were eligible to use the MV2690.

This is the only time dealers are allowed to put a vehicle out for sale and, if the vehicle sells, title it to the buyer without a title.

After processing, send a completed MV11, MV2690 and inquiry print with your bundle. Anything else you would do with the vehicle, whether it's sold to an out-of-state customer without a lien, wholesaled, or dealer traded, you have to wait for a title from the lien holder. In that case, after receiving the title, you'll sign the title as Seller, POA and forward it with the MV2690 and inquiry print wherever the vehicle is going.

If the trade vehicle is titled out of state and that title is held by a lien holder, you can have your customer complete the MV2690 Power of Attorney form. You must have the out-of-state title in your possession before the vehicle can be put out for sale, wholesaled, or dealer traded. Once you receive the title, you may sign the title as Seller, POA and once it sells, process it to your buyer. If it sold to an out-of-state customer without a lien, wholesaled, or dealer traded, sign the title as Seller, POA and forward it with the MV2690 and inquiry print to your buyer, wholesaler, or trade dealer.


Titles - out-of-state title alert (February 2018)

With out-of-state titles, be alert for salvage, junk and other brands.

For example, between September and November 2017, JUNK and SALVAGE brands for new Texas titles were not sent to the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS). Many of those titles display the Texas FLOOD DAMAGED brand due to Hurricane Harvey.

NMVTIS records have since been corrected, but this incident shows the need to be vigilant, as your title processing system may not always alert you.


Titles - processing requirements (October 2018)

Wisconsin law Wis. Stat. §342.16(1)(a) requires all dealers to process title applications within 7 business days and mail the associated documentation to DMV the next business day:

"Within 7 business days following the sale or transfer, the dealer shall process the application for certificate of title, and within the next business day after processing the application, the dealer shall mail or deliver the original application for certificate and all associated materials required by the department to the department."


Titles - repossessed vehicles (January 2017)

Generally, a lender repossessing a vehicle is not required to have possession of the title before reselling the vehicle to a retail customer. However, that does not apply to Wisconsin dealers. Dealers repossessing or buying a repossessed vehicle must have a title document in their possession before offering the vehicle for sale (wholesale to another dealer or auction, or retail to a customer).

The title does not need to be in the dealer's name, but it may be necessary for the dealer to title it to themselves if the dealer is unable to recover the title from the debtor in a repossession situation. See the following Repossession Scenarios chart as a guide.


Titles - No Wisconsin Title- NO WITI (January 2020)

A Wisconsin title record is required when issuing WI registration for any vehicle. In some cases, the ownership document may not be available for titling. In these cases, the State of WI issues what is known as a "No WITI." No WITI stands for No Wisconsin Title Issued (Registration Only).

Wisconsin DMV will issue a "No WITI - registration only" to vehicles last titled and/or registered in another jurisdiction when the out-of-state title is held by a lien holder or is otherwise unavailable and there is no change of ownership.

The customer will receive license plates and a certificate of registration but does not receive a Wisconsin title until the outstanding title is submitted.

A product notation is printed on the Wisconsin certificate of registration that states: REGISTRATION ONLY NO WI TITLE ISSUED.


Title-only applications (October 2019)

Due to increased fraud and the circumvention of existing registration laws, DMV recently changed its policy for accepting title-only applications.

DMV Customer Service Centers will no longer issue title-only applications when the vehicle was sold by a licensed Wisconsin dealer. Dealers need to mail these applications in for manual processing.

Dealers or dealer runners will no longer be given the title for a title ​only application being issued to a customer. DMV Customer Service Centers will still process the application and collect the fees, but the title will be mailed to the customer.

This does not apply to vehicles being titled into the dealer's name, replacement titles, heirs, or other special circumstances with the proper supporting documentation.


Traveling sales teams (Fall 2006)

Wisconsin dealers may receive offers from out-of-state marketing companies that provide temporary sales staff and promotional materials. Generally, these marketing companies work with a dealer for a specific period of time, usually during a special promotion. Because many of these companies work in multiple states, it is important to be sure that they understand how to operate in Wisconsin.

We often see temporary sales staff that has not been properly licensed, and promotional materials that do not comply with Wisconsin advertising standards. The most important thing to remember is that dealers are responsible for the actions of traveling sales teams. Questions regarding traveling sales teams may be directed to your field investigator.

Tips to remember:

  • A dealership is responsible for anyone it hires.
  • Salespersons must be properly licensed.
  • Out-of-state companies should be informed of Wisconsin advertising laws.
  • The Dealer and Agent Section must be notified any time a salesperson, buyer or bid cardholder leaves your employment.

Tips when completing sales transfer applications:

  • Make certain that your applicant was previously licensed in Wisconsin as a salesperson.
  • Fill in the dealer information, sign the application and submit prior to the sale.
  • Validate that your applicant checked ​the yes/no boxes and explained any boxes checked yes.


A | BCDEF | G | H | IJ | K | LM | NOP | Q | RST | UVW | X | Y | Z |



Unauthorized buyers at auctions (Spring 2004)

Only authorized bidders (licensed dealership employees) may participate in wholesale auctions—online or in person. Dealers may not legally view a wholesale auction website with a customer in tow for the purpose of finding the customer a vehicle.



Vehicle emissions control systems (April 2016)

The Clean Air Act (CAA) prohibits anyone from tampering with an emissions control device on a motor vehicle by removing it, or making it inoperable. It is also a violation of the CAA to manufacture, sell, or install a part for a motor vehicle that bypasses, defeats, or renders inoperative any emissions control device.

The penalties for CAA violations include fines and jail time, and can greatly impact a business.


Vehicle surcharge - Electric and hybrid vehicles (January 2020; February 2018)

Effective January 1st, 2018, an additional charge of $100 for electric vehicles was added to law, intended to help fund needed road projects. A non-hybrid electric vehicle is propelled solely by electrical energy and is not capable of using gasoline, diesel fuel, or alternative fuel to propel the vehicle.

The surcharge applies to electric vehicles with any plate type registered as automobile (AUT) or as light truck (LTK) up to 8,000 lbs. gross weight, including dual purpose vehicles (DPV). This surcharge will be collected whenever the regular annual registration fee is paid for plate issuance and registration renewal.

Hybrid electric vehicles are assessed a $75 annual surcharge, which is required to be collected by DMV whenever annual registration fees are paid, effective October 1st, 2019. A hybrid electric vehicle is a vehicle that is capable of using both electricity and gasoline, diesel fuel, or alternative fuel to propel the vehicle.


Visiting WisDOT Hill Farms office building (March 2018)

If you need to visit the new Hill Farms State Office Building, please note the following from our Visitor Policy:

  • Visitors will need to check in at the security desk.
  • The security staff will assist visitors by contacting the respective agency and designated contact. Visitors will receive a temporary access card and either be escorted by an employee of the agency or use the access card for the turnstile and elevator to get to the floor they are visiting.
  • Visitor Wi-Fi​​: the building has wireless access points spread throughout. The Guest network is at this point 'open', no credentials are required to access the internet.
  • Visitor parking: there are 107 visitor stalls available in the parking ramp, which is located on Sheboygan Avenue to the west of the original Hill Farms State Office Building. There is signage to direct visitors to the visitor parking in the garage.
  • Visitor Parking is available in the Hill Farms Parking Ramp on the first floor and lower level from 6am 6pm Monday - Friday excluding holidays.
  • ​The first 30 minutes for a visitor to park at the building is free.
  • Agencies may provide validations for visitors.​
  • Handicap visitor parking will be available at the front of the Hill Farms Office Building at no charge.

Visitor Parking Rates:

  • Less than 30 Minutes $0.00
  • Per Hour $2.00
  • Daily Rate $12.00
  • Lost Ticket Fee $25.00



Wheel tax - a complete list of current wheel taxes is found on the WisDOT wheel tax page


A guide to the Wisconsin Buyer's Guide (Spring 2013)


WisDOT website (February 2018)

To access our official WisDOT website home page, enter A Google search for Wisconsin DOT or DMV may bring up sites that will show as or These are not the official Wisconsin DOT website, have no affiliation with Wisconsin DOT and may not contain accurate information. Please be sure that you are going to

To find dealer-specific information once you're at our homepage, locate the blue bar at the top of the page and click on DMV INFO. You'll get a drop-down menu with Dealer/Lender/Agent as the second to last option. Putting your cursor over Dealer/Lender/Agent will bring up a second drop-down menu that will give you choices such as Business License, Title Processing, Forms and Publications, along with several others. Clicking on Forms and Publications, for example, will take you to a page with access to forms commonly used by dealers relating to title processing and the various dealer licenses.​