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Dealers

Licensed vehicle dealers in Michigan can access tools, resources, and training through their CARS e-Services account. Instructions for setting up an account are available on the Forms and publications page.

Licensing 

Per state law, you must have a dealer license, if within a 12-month period you have been in business: 

  • Buying, selling, brokering, leasing, negotiating a lease, or dealing in 5 or more vehicles of a type required to be titled—including motor vehicles, trailer coaches, and trailers weighing over 2,500 lbs.
  • Purchasing, selling, exchanging, brokering, or dealing in salvageable parts of five or more vehicles. 
  • Buying five or more vehicles to sell vehicle parts or process into scrap metal.
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    License

    Business type

    Fee

    Class A – New vehicle dealer

    Buys and sells new vehicles under a franchise agreement or contract with the manufacturer of the new vehicle.

    $75

    Class B – Used vehicle dealer

    Buys and sells used vehicles.

    $75

    Class C – Used vehicle parts dealer

    Acquires late model major component parts for resale, either at wholesale or at retail. The dealer may also acquire whole vehicles to dismantle for the resale of parts, selling the remainder as scrap.

    $165

    Class D – Broker

    For compensation, brings a buyer and seller together, negotiates the terms of a transaction, or displays a vehicle offered for sale. In the broker's role regarding the sale, purchase, lease or exchange of vehicles or salvageable parts, the broker does not have title or other legal interest in the vehicle or salvageable part.

     

    A person who conducts a vehicle auction is a type of broker and requires a Class D license.

    $75

    Class E – Distressed vehicle transporter

    Buys, transports, and sells vehicles only to a Class C Used Vehicle Parts Dealer; Class F Scrap Metal Processor; or Class R Automotive Recycler.

    $75

    Class F – Vehicle scrap metal processor

    Processes vehicles into scrap metal by shredding, shearing, fragmenting, baling, or similar means.

     

    Crushing is not considered a scrap metal process since it is not the final step before remelting.

    $75

    Class G – Vehicle salvage pool

    Stores and displays damaged or distressed vehicles for insurance companies.

    $75

    Class H – Foreign salvage vehicle dealer

    Licensed in another state and is in the business of purchasing, selling, or otherwise dealing on a wholesale basis in salvageable parts or late model distressed vehicles in Michigan. This dealer buys or otherwise acquires late model major component parts for resale, either at wholesale or at retail. The dealer may also acquire whole vehicles to dismantle for the resale of parts, selling the remainder as scrap.

    $160

    Class R – Automotive recycler

    Buys or otherwise acquires late model major component parts for resale, either at wholesale or at retail. The dealer may also acquire whole vehicles to dismantle for the resale of parts, selling the remainder as scrap.

    $160

    Class W – Wholesaler

    Buys and sells used vehicles from and to licensed vehicle dealers. Wholesalers may not buy, sell, or otherwise deal in vehicles to a person other than a licensed vehicle dealer.

     

    Only a Salvage Vehicle Agent may buy salvage or scrap titled vehicles at an auction. Class C and Class R dealers will also need to have the Salvage Vehicle Agent license.

    $75

     

  • To surrender a dealer license, you will need to:

    • With the assistance of the Department of State, dispose of all vehicles in inventory under your license either by selling them at wholesale or titling and registering them in your name (with proper amount of sales tax paid). 
    • Surrender your dealer wall license, all dealer plates under your license, and all remaining temporary registrations. 
    • Complete and submit a Michigan Vehicle Dealer Closeout Statement, certifying that you have completed the above steps. 

    Michigan Vehicle Dealer Closeout Statement

     
  • State law gives our department the authority to deny, suspend, or revoke a license or certification if the licensee or applicant has not complied with the provisions of the Acts or Rules. Dealers may receive a written warning, be placed on probation, be fined, or have their license suspended if the actions cannot be resolved.

    All administrative actions are reported through Online Services under the Search Dealer option.

    Go to Online Services

  • All dealers must complete and submit a Vehicle Dealer License Application, including the following:   

    • Fingerprints through Identix
    • Copies of Articles of Incorporation or Assumed Name Filing for the business 
    • Michigan No-Fault Fleet insurance 
    • Zoning and municipal approval 
    • An established place of business
    • $10,000 surety bond

    Vehicle Dealer License Application Packet

    Foreign Salvage Vehicle Dealer License Application   

Renewing and correcting a dealer license (Choose tab below)

To renew your dealer license online, you will need:

  • Your CARS e-Services dealer account login
  • Valid Discover, MasterCard, VISA card, or e-check for payment

Note: You cannot renew your license online if more than 30 days has passed since your dealer license expired.  

Go to CARS e-Services   


To renew your dealer license by mail:

  • Complete the dealer license renewal application (salvage vehicle agent renewals are completed on page two of the renewal).
  • Enclose a money order or check made out to the State of Michigan for payment.

Mail your completed renewal application and payment to: 

Michigan Department of State
Business Licensing Section
Lansing, MI 48918

Note: Supplemental locations are included with the renewal notice and are two sided forms. Sign each page to keep these locations or cross off any locations that are no longer in use. Failure to fill out the form correctly or completely may delay or prevent your license renewal.

Instructions    

 

You can correct or change your license name or address at the time of renewing your dealer license or by completing a Vehicle Dealer License Change of Name and/or Change of Address Application. 

Mail the completed application to: 

Michigan Department of State
Business Licensing Section
Lansing, MI, 48918

Vehicle Dealer License Change of Name and/or Change of Address Application

Dealer plates

Eligible and authorized businesses may, and in some cases are required to, obtain dealer license plates for specified use.

  • Class A and Class B dealers are required by law to purchase a minimum of two dealer plates. 

    Eligibility for additional dealer plates is determined using the following formula:

    • One plate for each five vehicles carried in highest inventory, up to and including 400 vehicles
    • One plate for each seven vehicles in excess of 400, up to a maximum of 100 plates

    Class W dealers may purchase dealer plates, however, there is not a minimum number required. The maximum number of dealer plates for a wholesale vehicle dealer is initially one plate.

    A Class W dealer may apply for additional dealer plate(s). A wholesale dealer will be required to submit copies of title and police book information for vehicles in their inventory to verify the need for any additional dealer plates. 

    If the request for additional plates is approved, the following formula will be used:

    • One plate for every five vehicles carried in highest inventory, up to and including 40 vehicles
    • One plate for every 10 vehicles exceeding 40, up to a maximum of 10 plates
  • Registration is not issued for dealer plates, only the plate. However, you must keep a copy of the certificate of fleet insurance for any and all dealer-owned vehicles in the vehicle at all times.

    To provide documentation of ownership of a vehicle, it is recommended that you keep the following documents with you while operating the vehicle:

    • New vehicles: A copy of the manufacturer's certificate of origin or a copy of that portion of the invoice showing the dealer's identification and the vehicle identification number of the vehicle being driven.
    • Dealer trades: A copy of the Michigan Application for Title and Registration (RD-108) that shows both dealers' names and addresses.
    • Used vehicles: A copy of the front and back of the assigned certificate of title.

    To provide documentation of eligible use of the dealer plate, it is recommended that you keep the following documents on your person or in the vehicle:

    • Employees and agents: A document clearly identifying the dealership and the operator as an employee or agent that is authorized to use the vehicle.
    • Prospective customers: A statement that the vehicle is being operated for demonstration purposes including the date and time that the prospective customer took possession of the vehicle. The form should include the dealership's telephone number.

    When a customer has purchased a vehicle and is driving on a dealer plate for 72 hours, a signed and dated copy of the RD-108 showing the new owner's name and address should be provided, as well as a certificate of Michigan No-Fault insurance for the vehicle.

  • Authorized use of a dealer plate includes, but is not limited to:

    • Dealer-owned vehicles being driven to and from repair facilities, storage lots, and other locations where vehicles are being held prior to sale. 
    • Dealer-owned vehicles being moved to locations where they may be bought or sold. 
    • Dealer-owned vehicles being driven by a prospective customer of a dealership for testing or demonstration purposes for up to 72 hours.
    • A person who has purchased a vehicle from a dealership may operate the vehicle with a dealer plate for up to 72 hours after taking delivery of the vehicle. 
    • Dealer-owned vehicles driven by employees, servants, or agents of the dealership to transport monies and documents (related to the sale of vehicles) to banks and Secretary of States offices.

    Dealer plates cannot be used for:

    • Vehicles that aren’t owned by the dealership - except a vehicle sold to a customer not more than 72 hours after taking delivery. 
    • Vehicles used as service vehicles or wreckers, including courtesy cars, loaners, daily rental, lease, vehicles used for obtaining or delivering parts, and vehicles used to provide roadside service or tow disabled vehicles (service vehicles must be titled and registered to the dealership). 
    • Dealer-owned vehicle operated by someone who is not the dealer, the dealer’s employee or agent, or a prospective purchaser. This includes scrap or salvage titled vehicles (unless the salvage-titled vehicle has been inspected and recertified by a specially trained law enforcement officer).
  • An auctioneer/in-transit repair plate may be issued to an individual, partnership, corporation, or association, including vehicle dealers, who, in the ordinary course of business, have occasion to legally pick up or deliver a vehicle.

    Plates may be obtained by application at a Secretary of State office for $20 per plate. The plate expires annually on March 31 and may be renewed at a Secretary of State office for $5.  

    The auctioneer/in-transit repair plate may be used to move a vehicle for repair or service, or to pick up or deliver a commercial vehicle being driven to a facility to undergo aftermarket modification. The in-transit repair plate is placed on the vehicle being picked up or delivered.

    Watercraft dealers and marinas can use an in-transit repair plate to:

    • Deliver a watercraft or trailer to a purchaser (the trailer may have a watercraft on it),
    • Transport a watercraft between a body of water and place of storage,
    • Transport watercraft and trailers to and from a boat show or exposition, and
    • Repair, service, or store a watercraft or trailer, or to return a watercraft or trailer to the customer after repair, service or storage.

    An auctioneer/in-transit repair plate may also be issued to an individual, partnership, corporation, or association who, in the ordinary course of business, operates an auto auction. The plate may be used to legally pick up or deliver a vehicle offered for sale at the auction. Vehicle brokers who are not auctioneers are not eligible for the auctioneer/in-transit repair plate.

     

    Application for Repossession, In-Transit Repair, or Special Farm Plates


  • Improper use of a dealer plate may result in either:

    • Administrative action against the dealer’s license and/or plate allotment 
    • Court sanctioned civil or criminal consequences depending on associated civil or criminal violations (it is ultimately the courts' decision whether or not citations are justified in cases of improper dealer plate use) 

Vehicle sales: Titles, registration, and documentation (Choose tab below)

For a complete overview of title and registration procedures, consult Chapter 3 of the dealer manual.

A vehicle may not be sold or offered for sale in Michigan unless the dealer has a properly assigned title or other ownership document.

Section 235 of the Michigan Vehicle Code (MCL 257.235) requires every vehicle in a dealer's possession (i.e., for resale purposes) to have a document proving ownership. 

The only exception to the document possession requirement is for a new vehicle which has an electronic (paperless) Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin (MCO). However, the dealer should have an invoice or other paper document on file. Brokers and auctions should use the Broker Fee Agreement to show authorization to hold the vehicle.

If all assignment spaces on the title are already filled, the selling dealer must apply for a resale title before completing the sale. No tax is due on resale titles.

Vehicle ownership is transferred when the owner(s) signs off of the vehicle title (assigning the title) to the new owner, and the new owner signs on and takes delivery. All owners whose names are shown on the face of the title must sign the title. 

Unless the vehicle is exempt from odometer disclosure requirements, the seller must complete the odometer statement on the title before the sale can be finalized.

When selling a vehicle to a non-dealer, the selling dealer must apply for title and registration on the purchaser's behalf within 15 days of delivering the vehicle, using the Michigan Application for Title and Registration (RD-108). 

A transaction receipt, form RD-108L, will be generated by the Secretary of State office when the transaction is processed. The requirements for completing the form are outlined in Chapter 7 of the Dealer Manual.


Go to Forms and publications

When a vehicle is transferred from one dealer to another dealer, a Michigan Application for Title and Registration (RD-108) is not required if the purchasing dealer is buying the vehicle for resale. The selling dealer simply assigns the title or MCO to the purchasing dealer, and completes the odometer disclosure and separate salvage disclosure, if applicable. All assignments must be dated.

Dealers must give every purchaser a copy of every document signed by the purchaser, at the time of signing, including a Michigan Application for Title and Registration (RD-108) and the front and back of the title. The dealer must complete the reassignment and show the purchaser the title (front and back), and any reassignment forms, before delivery.

Any time a vehicle leaves a dealer's lot on a dealer plate, for law enforcement purposes, it is recommended the following should be in the vehicle:

New Vehicle

  • Ownership document (could be a manufacturer's invoice or MCO/MSO)
  • Proof of insurance (copy of fleet insurance)
  • Written authorization to drive the vehicle

Used Vehicle

  • Ownership document (copy of incoming title reassigned to dealer)
  • Proof of insurance (copy of fleet insurance)
  • Written authorization to drive the vehicle

Vehicle registration fees are determined by state law and are based on the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for the vehicle type and model year (1984-present) before any options or taxes are added. Additional license plate, Recreation Passport, and plate personalization fees apply. 

View vehicle base prices

Dealer training 

Dealer training covers the basic requirements of the Michigan Vehicle Code, dealer functions, licensing requirements, and Secretary of State CARS e-Services. All licensed vehicle dealers and staff may attend training virtually through Microsoft Teams at no cost. Pre-registration is required. 

  • Pre-licensing vehicle dealer training: Contact the Business Regulation Section at BLRD@Michigan.gov to sign up.

    Include the following information in your request:
    • Date of the training you want to attend
    • Name(s) of all owner(s)/officer(s) attending training
    • The dealership name
    • The dealership address (if known)
    • Contact e-mail for each attendee (e-mail is required to attend training)
    • Contact phone number for each attendee
  • Continuous education dealer training: Register through CARS e-Services. 
Upcoming virtual trainings

July 13, 2022; 9 AM - 12 PM

August 3, 2022; 9 AM - 12 PM

All trainings are conducted through Microsoft Teams.  

Resources and tools for dealers (Choose tab below)

Some automotive-related businesses can process their vehicle transactions through the Michigan Electronic Filing System (MiEFS) program. The MiEFS program works with a vendor which provides PC-based software at the business's location.

Industry information

Access the following services through CARS e-Services Dealer Services, located under the Business Services section.

  • Search for repeat offenders: Allows dealers and others to learn if a vehicle purchaser is ineligible for license plates and subject to registration denial under Michigan's "Repeat Offender Law" (MCL 257.219). This law prohibits the Michigan Department of State from registering any vehicle owned, co-owned, leased, or co-leased by certain repeat offenders.
  • Verify a vehicle dealer or repair facility license: Verify whether a motor vehicle dealer or repair facility is properly licensed or registered using the Search tool.

Under the Payments and Fees section: 

Calculate plate fees: Michigan law [Michigan Vehicle Code (MCL 257.217(4)] requires dealers to apply for title and registration on behalf of their customers. When a customer needs a new plate, the dealer must calculate the plate fee and record this information on the RD-108, Application for Michigan Title - Statement of Vehicle Sale. Calculating registration fees on CARS e-Services will minimize plate fee errors, ensuring quicker turn-around time. 

Under the Additional Services section:

Search for certified salvage vehicle inspectors: Select a county from the dropdown or select ‘Search for all’ to view a list of active salvage vehicle inspectors in your desired area.

 

The Friend of the Court (FOC) Lien Search allows dealers and others to determine if a vehicle brought in for trade or sale has an active lien from the Friend of the Court for the owner’s failure to make child support payments. This database is updated weekly, each Friday. Dealers should take appropriate precautions to protect their interest in the vehicle in addition to checking the database. 

The Friend of the Court can be added as a secured party on the title for the vehicle. MDOS mails a new title displaying the FOC lien to the vehicle owner with a return envelope requesting the return of the older title; however, owners may not comply and the previous title without the lien will still be in the customer’s possession. 

Friend of the Court Lien Search

Receive important updates and dealer information through your CARS e-Services account. 

Go to CARS e-Services
 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

  • The license expiration date is found at the top of your dealer license renewal. The Michigan Vehicle Code requires a new dealer application after a dealer license has been expired more than 30 days. 

  • The relevant law is Section 244(4) of the Michigan Vehicle Code. MCL 257.244(4). It states that a dealer may use a dealer plate and specifically defines “dealer” to include three types of individuals, beyond the dealers themselves, who may use a dealer plate: “employee, servant, or agent” of the dealer. 

    Since the Michigan Vehicle Code does not define “employee, servant, or agent,” a dictionary definition is reasonable. An “employee” is someone who is employed by the dealer for wages or salary; an “agent” is someone who acts on behalf of a dealer; and a “servant” is someone who performs duties for the dealer. 

    “Family member” is not included in the list of individuals who may use a dealer plate. The mere fact of being a dealer’s family member is not enough to use a dealer plate. However, if a dealer’s family member is an employee, servant, or agent of the dealer, that person would be allowed to use a dealer plate.  This is not a new law. This clarification is simply offered as a reminder of what the law is and has been for a long time.

    With respect to how a dealer plate may be used—that is, what is an appropriate use for a dealer plate—the relevant law is Section 244 of the Michigan Vehicle Code. MCL 257.244. Dealer plates may be used on dealer-owned vehicles driven by employees, servants, or agents of the dealership for any purpose, provided that the vehicle is not a “service vehicle.” The Michigan Vehicle Code does not define “service vehicle” but a common understanding would include courtesy cars, loaners, daily rental, lease, vehicles used for obtaining or delivering parts, and vehicles used to provide roadside service or tow disabled vehicles.

  • Dealers are reminded to monitor dealer plate use and periodically audit dealer plates to ensure that none have been lost or stolen. Lost, mutilated or stolen plates can be replaced by completing an Application for Additional/Replacement Dealer Plates (AR-0036). Dealer plates confiscated for improper use by law enforcement will not be replaced.

    Application for Additional/Replacement Dealer Plates 

     
  • Dealer training is conducted via Microsoft Teams for all dealers. Pre-registration is required.

     Class A, B, C, D, E, F, G, R, or W dealer owners, managers, sales and office staff that handle paperwork may attend full-day trainings. All trainings have a sign-in and sign-out procedure.  Failure to properly sign-in and sign-out of the training will result in not receiving credit for attending the training.

    • Continuous education dealer training: Register through CARS e-Services. Only the training dates with available slots will be visible.  Once you are registered, you will receive a confirmation email with the date and time of the training session.  
    • Pre-licensing vehicle dealer training: Register via email (BLRD@michigan.gov). You will receive an email approximately 3 days prior to the date you are registered with instructions on how to access the training event, training materials, and the proper link to log into the training.  
  • Dealer training is conducted via Microsoft Teams for all dealers. Pre-registration is required. 
    Dealer training addresses:

    • How to utilize Secretary of State CARS e-Services

      • Issuing and cancelling BFS-4 temporary registrations
      • Adding and removing users

    • Dealership records and record keeping requirements

      • Police book requirements
      • Proper documentation of vehicle sales
      • Deal jacket requirements
      • Vehicle buy back

    • Established place of business requirements
    • Consumer and dealer protection
    • The dealer inspections process

      • Commonly issued violations

    • Dealer plate usage
    • Sales and use tax requirements

Still have questions?

More FAQs