How to Get an Auction License

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Auctions in the United States are regulated by state, and each state has its own requirements for getting an auctioneer’s license. For example, some states require a certain amount of hours at an auctioneer school in order to receive a license, and some states don't require a license at all.

To sell cars at auction, both an auctioneer’s license and an automobile dealer's license might be necessary. Many states don’t require either license if an individual is looking to sell the family car at auction, but it’s best to check your state’s guidelines for selling cars in your area. Your local auction house will also have information and advice for you.

How to Get an Auction License by State

All states are different, so it’s best to check your state’s guidelines for specific information regarding auction licenses. Most states require aspiring auctioneers to complete a course of study at an approved school. In addition to schooling, some states, such as Pennsylvania, require applicants to complete an apprenticeship under a sponsoring, licensed auctioneer and to operate under an apprentice auctioneer license for a two-year period.

While applicants must attend auctioneer school in the state of Alabama, a license isn’t required to sell items at online auctions in this state. Further, anyone with a license must receive continuing education every other year. Though the State of New York doesn’t require a state-issued auction license, many cities and counties have their own laws regarding auctions and auctioneering. For example, Michigan also doesn’t require a license, but some of the state's municipalities and counties require permits for selling at auction.

How Much Does it Cost to Get an Auction License

The cost of an auction license also varies by state. For those who attend classes, the cost of schooling can run from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. States that issue an auction license may also have a filing fee, an examination fee and a license fee, depending on requirements. These fees can add up to several hundred dollars. Some states require bonding and insurance, which can run $10,000 or more.

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How Do You Buy Cars at Auction

Car auctions are a way to buy a car without paying dealership pricing. They're also a way to find a car, such as a classic car, that isn’t easy to find otherwise. Before showing up at an auction, make sure you’re allowed to attend. Many car auctions are open only to dealers and not private sellers or collectors. The auction house has all of the necessary information for anyone wishing to attend, buy or sell a car at auction.

You might have to register as a bidder before you attend, and the auction house might want proof that you can afford to pay for the car you’re bidding on. Find out in advance if you’ll need to present a bank statement and credit card, or if the house is a cash-only enterprise.

It’s good to show up at the auction house early to inspect the cars and inquire about damages or flaws. Auction houses aren’t required to disclose damage, so it’s important to do your due diligence. Many auction houses sell cars that were left in impound lots or abandoned vehicles, and vehicles aren’t always top of the line.

When you’re ready to bid, position yourself in an area where the auctioneer will see you. Set a price and stick with it so you don’t overspend. If you win a car, don’t offer to drive it home unless you’re sure it runs. The auction house can set you up with a reputable shipper if necessary.


  • Auction license requirements vary by state, county and municipality. Check your local government's website for up-to-date information on obtaining an auction license.