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South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles


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  Dealer Requirements
Operating with a Dealer License
Certain criteria must be met for your business to operate legally in South Carolina. Your Dealer Inspection Agent can explain the requirements and offer suggestions for improvement.
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Building Requirements
  • Building Structure (Not Required For Wholesalers)

Important Note: There are substantial restrictions for licensing a building that contains more than one business or entity. If you are considering licensing a building that is shared by other businesses or entities, a pre-inspection is required. Contact Dealer Licensing Headquarters at (803) 896-2611 to reach your local agent and request a pre-inspection prior to making a commitment for a shared building.

As a motor vehicle dealer, you must maintain a bona fide established place of business that is a permanent enclosed structure or building. Your office area, whether a permanent structure or mobile home, must have at least 96 square feet of floor space. The structure cannot be a residence, tent, temporary stand or other temporary quarters. The building must also be easily accessible to the public.

Occupied by you, the dealer, the principle business conducted in the building must be the selling or exchanging of vehicles. The public should be able to contact the owner or operator of your facility at all reasonable times. Your records, files and books should also be maintained and housed in this structure.

SCDMV Policy DE-004 Licensing of Retail and Wholesale Dealers and Wholesale Motor Vehicle Auctions has additional details regarding facility licensing requirements.

  • Sign (Not Required For Wholesalers)

Your business location must display a permanent sign with permanent lettering that is at least six inches in height.  Your sign must identify your business (clearly readable from the nearest avenue of traffic).

  • Lot (Not Required For Wholesalers)

As a dealer, you must provide a reasonable area or lot to properly display motor vehicles.

Licensed motor vehicle dealers must meet all the previously listed criteria to pass inspection. Because licensed wholesalers cannot sell vehicles to individuals, they are not required to maintain a permanent place of business and lot or to display a sign. However, wholesalers are required to house their records at the location indicated on their application and license.
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Insurance for Dealer Plates

If you purchase dealer plates, you must provide liability insurance information at the time of your licensing and maintain liability insurance throughout the licensing period.

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Buyer Guides

Federal Law requires that every used vehicle for sale on a dealer lot must have a completed Buyer's Guide Form in the window. This form indicates whether or not the used vehicle is being sold under warranty or "As Is" without a warranty. When the vehicle is sold, a copy of the form must remain with the dealer's records and a copy must be given to the customer buying the vehicle. The purchaser should sign both copies.

NIADA - A Dealer's Guide to the Used Car Rule

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Records

Every dealer is required to keep complete records of each transaction in which a motor vehicle is sold or transferred. These records must be maintained for five years from the date of the transaction. To be accurate and complete, these records must reflect the following:

  • The correct full name and address of the buyer and seller of the vehicle.
  • The correct date of the transaction.
  • An accurate description of the vehicle, which includes the vehicle identification number, year, make, model and type of body.
  • The Federal Odometer Disclosure Statement, which is the odometer reading at the time the vehicle was transferred to and from the dealer or wholesaler.

The department requires that these records be available for inspection and duplication by a DMV agent during normal business hours.

Your records must be maintained in a reasonable and orderly manner. All entries should be legible to the ordinary person upon inspection. If your records are not kept in this fashion, you could be penalized during an inspection.

Any dealer or wholesaler who fails to keep the required records or fails to make them available upon inspection is guilty of a misdemeanor. Upon conviction, the dealer or wholesaler may be fined up to $200 or imprisoned for up to 30 days.

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Sales

As a retail dealer, you must collect sales tax on any sale. You can obtain your required sales tax number from the Department of Revenue. For each sale, you must complete Form 400, an application for Title/Registration, indicate your dealer license number and sales tax number, and have a dealer signature on the form.

Licensed motor vehicle dealers must meet all the previously listed criteria to pass inspection. Because licensed wholesalers cannot sell vehicles to individuals, they are not required to collect sales tax and therefore are exempt from this requirement. Wholesale dealers must obtain a tax exemption certificate from the SC Department of Revenue.

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Displaying Your Dealer or Wholesaler License

Once you receive your motor vehicle dealer or wholesaler license, you must display it in a prominent place in your business

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On This Page
Operating with a Dealer License
Building Requirements
Insurance for Dealer Plates
Buyer Guides
Records
Sales
Displaying Your Dealer or Wholesaler License

Related Sites
The Carolina Independent Automobile Association