Building Requirements

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.

The building structure requirements are below. Wholesalers are exempt from these requirements:

  • Permanent enclosed structure or building
    • Your office area 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.
  • Occupancy
    • The building must be occupied by you, the dealer, the principle business conducted in the building must be the selling or exchanging of vehicles. The public must 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.
  • Sign
    • Your business location must display a permanent sign with lettering that is at least six inches tall.
    • Your sign must clearly identify your business and be readable from the nearest street
  • Lot
    • As a dealer, you must provide a reasonable area or lot to properly display motor vehicles.

The Licensing of Retail and Wholesale Dealers and Wholesale Motor Vehicle Auctions (SCDMV Procedure DE-004) procedure has more information.

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 the Business License unit at 803-896-2611 to reach your local agent and request a pre-inspection prior to making a commitment for a shared building.   

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.

You may find more information from the National Independent Automotive Dealers Association - A Dealer's Guide to the Used Car Rule.


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 all of 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 SCDMV requires that these records be available for inspection and copying by an SCDMV 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.


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 the Title Application (SCDMV Form 400) and indicate your dealer license number and sales tax number 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.

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.