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How Many Cars Can You Sell in a Year in California? Restrictions Explained

vintage car with california plate

Many California entrepreneurs are finding ways to flip vehicles and sell them. If you are thinking about flipping vehicles and selling them in California, you have come to the right place. Although it certainly is a great idea, it’s important to understand California State laws so you stay within the bounds of the law during your entrepreneurial activities.

In this article, we will review how many vehicles you can sell in a year in California without a license. We also cover how to apply for a vehicle dealer’s license if you need one.

Let’s get started!

car and road divider

How Many Vehicles Can I Sell in California in a Year?

Within the state of California, you can only sell up to five vehicles within a year without a vehicle dealer’s license. Of course, the vehicles must be registered in your name. If they are not registered in your name when you sell them, you are committing a felony offense.

However, assuming the vehicles are in your name, you can sell a maximum of five within 1 year. Every year, your five-vehicle allotment will start over, allowing you to sell five vehicles every year you are a California resident.

grey sedan with California plate
Image Credit: Jesiel Rubio, Unsplash

What If I Sell More Than 5 Vehicles in California?

You do not need a license if you sell five or fewer vehicles in California. You must apply for a California vehicle dealer’s license before considering selling a 6th vehicle within 12 years.

If you do not apply for a California vehicle dealer’s license before selling your 6th vehicle, you are committing a crime. You can be charged a hefty fine or even be thrown in jail, depending on the severity of your crime.

To make things a bit more confusing, there are different vehicle dealer’s licenses, depending on how you intend to sell the vehicles. For example, a dealer specializing in new vehicles must apply for a different application than those dealing with used or wholesale vehicles.

How to Apply for a California Vehicle Dealer’s License

Luckily, the state of California makes it easy to find out what you need to apply for a California vehicle dealer’s license. If you need a California vehicle dealer’s license, we recommend heading to the California DMV Vehicle Dealer License page.

This page has everything you need to apply for a vehicle dealer’s license in California. It offers checklists for dealers, procedure manuals, and product lists. There is even an extensive step-by-step guide for how to apply for a dealer’s license in California.

You will need to fill out various forms, provide your fingerprint, complete a dealer education program, and more for the application process. There are also fees associated with applying for this license. Everything you need is listed on the site.

Ford Raptor pickup
Image Credit: Pavel Anoshin, Unsplash

Related Read: How Many Cars Can You Have in Your Name? What You Need To Know!

What If I Am Denied a California Vehicle Dealer’s License?

It is important to note that you can be denied a California vehicle dealer’s license. You would be denied mainly if you have a conviction relating to vehicle theft or illegal vehicle sales activity. Unfortunately, if you have been denied once, you likely will never be accepted.

If you think that there was a mistake regarding your California vehicle dealer’s license denial, you can always reach out to the State Department of Motor Vehicles to learn if you filled out the form incorrectly or need further help.

Related Read: How Many Cars Can You Sell in a Year in Ohio?

car and road divider


In conclusion, you can only sell five vehicles in a single year in California without a vehicle dealer’s license. If you sell six or more vehicles without a license, you are committing a crime and can be punished.

To avoid breaking any laws, apply for a vehicle dealer’s license in California if you expect to sell more than five vehicles in a 12-month span. The state makes it easy to fill out and apply for this form. If you have any other questions, reach out to the California Department of Motor Vehicles for help.

Featured Image Credit: Tim Mossholder, Unsplash


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