Bureau of Auto Repair

Anyone seeking to provide services related to automotive repair and emissions systems work in the State of California must first apply for and obtain an Automotive Repair Dealer Registration from the Bureau of Auto Repair. The Bureau falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Consumer Affairs and is tasked with administering the application process, renewals and licensee conduct. Applicants must complete and submit their Application for Automotive Repair Dealer Registration and pay proper fees before engaging in any services regulated by the Bureau. Certain types of businesses are not required to register with the Bureau and are exempt from the registration process.

Obtaining a license

Before a person or entity can engage in a business regulated by the Bureau, including auto repair, they must first obtain a valid license to do so. “Auto repair” refers to general repair of motor vehicles, service stations, smog check, engine repair, machine shop and other service related to motorized vehicles. Businesses that handle the repair or rebuilding of components of automobiles or motorcycles must also register, including those that deal in such systems as air conditioning, vehicle clutches, brakes, suspension, heaters and fuel.

Application process

In order to acquire the Auto Repair Dealer License, an applicant must submit an Application for Automotive Repair Dealer Registration that includes the following information:

  • Name of the applicant;
  • Identification and organization of business (i.e., sole proprietorship, corporation, partnership);
  • Identification of owners, directors, partners, managing employees and others in leadership roles;
  • Mailing and location address;
  • Social Security or Federal Employee Identification Number;
  • Information on convictions of felonies or misdemeanors; and,
  • Other details regarding the applicant.

The Application also requires identification of the two primary types of automotive repair the applicant intends to deal in. Examples are:

  • General repair;
  • Smog check station;
  • New/used car dealer;
  • Chain store;
  • Motorcycle repair shop;
  • Engine rebuilding;
  • Automotive diagnostics; and,
  • Other such related areas of automotive repair.

A $200 processing fee must be included when submitted the Application for Automotive Repair Dealer Registration. Limited liabilities companies must use a separate application, which may be obtained from the Bureau.

License applicability and renewal

Once obtained, the Automotive Repair Dealer Registration applies only to the location identified in the Application and Certificate. License holders must report any change in address or ownership of business. The credentials must be renewed annually by the expiration date and there is a $50 penalty for late registration renewal applications.

Exempt businesses

No registration is required for certain types of businesses, even though the automotive repair services they offer are otherwise regulated by the Bureau. These include:

  • Businesses that service ONLY vehicles that are not passenger vehicles;
  • Fleet owner/operators that only service their own fleet vehicles;
  • A shop that only supplies minor maintenance services to vehicles;

Machine shops that meet under all three criteria below are also exempt from filing for Automotive Repair Dealer Registration:

  • Primary business operation is in the wholesale supply of new or rebuilt motor vehicle parts;
  • Solely concentrates on the business of re-manufacturing parts without affecting warranties; AND,
  • Does not engage in diagnostics or repairs of motor vehicles.