Will I Need a License to Become a Pawnbroker?

license for pawn shop business

There are a few essential things to understand about the pawnbroker industry. Like every type of business, there are legal requirements and limits that you need to be aware of. In fact, the pawn business is a heavily regulated business model for most states, making the pawn contract a legal contract in that state. 

If you don’t take the necessary steps and meet specific requirements, then you’ll quickly run into trouble with the law.

Learn more about how to start a pawn shop

Do I Need a License to Become a Pawnbroker?

It’s crucial to understand that requirements will vary from state to state, so you’ll need to look into your state’s specific laws. For example, in the state of Florida, a license is required before your pawn shop can even open. If you’re caught doing business without a license, you’ll be charged with a third-degree felony and face charges of up to five years in prison.

The laws may be different in other states, so you need to look into your state’s regulations before beginning business. If your business switches states, you’ll need to look into and adhere to the new state’s laws.

Moving your pawn shop often comes with extra complications which can make getting and maintaining your necessary license an extra challenge. Florida requires pawn shop owners to notify the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at least 30 days before moving locations. Other states may require more or less time.

In short, the simple answer is: check with your state. If you live in Alabama, licensing requirements will be different from those in Montana. If you’re planning to move from Alabama to Montana, however, you’ll need to know the laws in both states.

In addition, it’s crucial to note that pawnbrokers not only need to meet the requirements of the state, but also city and county governments as well. They often have restrictions in place as to where a pawnshop can be located, and how many per capita etc.

How Do I Get a Pawnbroker’s License?

Yet again, this varies by state. Depending on where you live and where your pawnbroker business operates, you’ll need to meet certain qualifications before you are granted a license.

In some cases, you may be expected to be of good moral character. Many states will vary on what this means, but essentially, it’s important that you have no past felony charges and no past connections to a felony charge within the last ten years. 

There may be certain net worth requirements for applying for a license. If this is the case, ask your state how much your net worth must be to apply for a pawnbroker’s license. For example, some states may require a net worth of $50,000, while others may have different net worth requirements. If your net worth is less than the required amount, you may be denied application or asked to fulfill additional requirements before continuing with your application.

Net worth requirements are in place to protect customers if a pawnbroker is found guilty of fraud, theft, or other crimes. If you cannot meet net worth requirements, you may be asked to obtain a bond of a certain amount from a surety agency to be filed by the state and used to reimburse wronged customers.

A certain understanding of business is, in general, expected of potential pawnbrokers.

Some states will require a specific transaction form to be filed for every transaction. This form often includes a description of the item to be pawned, the pawn shop’s name and address, and list any identifying serial numbers or marks. Having business knowledge will help with this and convince the state you are knowledgeable enough to run a pawn shop. 


License requirements for pawnbrokers vary by state. Even if you come across an article written exclusively for your state, always double-check before assuming anything. The pawn business is heavily regulated and failure to comply with regulations and pawnbroking laws can lead to heavy fines and even prison time. No matter where you live, make sure to take your time researching licensing requirements before moving forward in opening up your pawn shop.