August 14, 2014
OLYMPIA—Starting this month, most Washington drivers renewing their licenses will have an additional year until their next visit to the Department of Licensing as the state transitions from a five-year driver license renewal cycle to a six-year cycle.
By extending the renewal cycle to six years, drivers in our state won’t have to visit DOL offices as often. Over time, this change also will reduce the number of drivers and ID card holders visiting DOL offices each year. This will help keep wait times as low as possible for all our customers.
The cost of a basic driver license or ID card will remain at $9 per year, but most customers will be paying for an additional year, so the total renewal cost will change from $45 for five years to $54 for six years.
Moving to a six-year driver license is expected to reduce the average number of annual renewals by more than 100,000. In order to evenly distribute all of our state’s licensed drivers into six years of roughly equal and lower renewal volumes, some drivers will be selected to receive a license extension for less than six years.
Beginning August 10, approximately 20 percent of drivers with licenses expiring in October will be selected at random by DOL’s license issuance system to receive a five-year license. The remaining 80 percent will receive a six-year license.
DOL will continue this gradual transition for the next five years by selecting 20 percent of drivers each year to receive licenses valid for less than six years. During the second year of this process, 20 percent of drivers will get a license valid for four years. In the third year, 20 percent will get a license valid for three years. In the fourth year, 20 percent will get a two-year license. In the final year, 20 percent will receive a one-year license.
Drivers randomly selected to receiving shorter renewal periods will only pay for the number of years their license is valid and will be eligible to renew online.
Click here for more info on DOL’s website.
August 7, 2014
OLYMPIA— A new driver license reciprocity agreement between Taiwan and Washington state will make life a little easier for drivers wanting to transfer a license from one place to the other.
The agreement allows Taiwan nationals living in Washington, such as university students, to skip the driving and written licensing exams if they are already licensed to drive in Taiwan. It gives the same option to Washington residents living in Taiwan.
“This agreement allows the Department of Licensing to honor the driving tests previously taken by a citizen of Taiwan just like we would when serving a currently licensed driver from another state,” Department of Licensing Director Pat Kohler said.
Driver licensing officials here and in Taiwan worked together to evaluate each other’s driver licensing requirements and testing processes. This ensures drivers who hold either license are fully qualified to operate a vehicle safely in both places.
The agreement was finalized at a signing ceremony on August 5th in Olympia. Director General Andy Chin of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Seattle joined Licensing Director Kohler in signing the agreement.
The agreement takes effect immediately. Drivers from Taiwan seeking a Washington license will need to visit the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Seattle to have their current license properly translated and verified prior to visiting a DOL driver licensing office.
Lt. Governor Brad Owen signed the agreement as a witness when it was signed by Taiwan’s Ministry of Transportation and Communications in Taipei during a trade and cultural mission in June.
“I see this agreement as a small, but important step—one of many—that have been taken in recent times to make commerce, travel and tourism that much easier between Taiwan and the state of Washington,” Owen said.
This is Washington’s fourth international driver license reciprocity agreement. The state has similar agreements with British Columbia, South Korea, and Germany.
February 6, 2014
Beginning February 10, all new driver license applicants will receive a license that’s valid for six years, as the Department of Licensing starts transitioning from a five-year to a six-year driver license.
New driver license applicants include individuals applying for their first license and those who are transferring their licenses from another state.
The per-year cost for a driver license will remain at $9 per year, but new applicants will pay for the additional year, which changes the fee from $45 to $54, not including the $35 application fee.
Adding a new motorcycle endorsement for up to six years will cost $2 per year.
Washingtonians who are obtaining their first Washington state ID cards will also be issued a card valid for six years beginning on February 10, at a cost of $54, or $9 per year.
Those renewing a current Washington driver licenses or ID cards will start transitioning to a six-year renewal period later this year.
In 2012, the Washington State Legislature authorized extending driver’s license terms from five to six years to improve customer service by reducing customer volumes and wait times in driver license offices.
November 4, 2013
The Department of Licensing recently sent notifications by mail to about 60,000 individuals with commercial driver licenses to let them know the deadline is approaching to complete and submit the required form to self-certify the type of commercial driving they do.
All CDL holders are required to submit a self-certification form to DOL before January 30, 2014. Failure to do so will result in losing their CDL and the driver will be required to get a driver license without the CDL endorsement. A self-certification form can be completed by visiting any DOL driver licensing office.
This self-certification is required to help ensure state and federal transportation agencies know who is required to keep current medical certificates on file with DOL. This includes all CDL holders who drive commercial vehicles in connection with interstate commerce.
Drivers that operate entirely within Washington state and don’t drive in connection with interstate commerce (intrastate drivers) are still required to self-certify, but are not required to keep their medical certificates on file with DOL.
DOL began notifying commercial drivers about this requirement in 2011. More information is available on the Department of Licensing website.
As of October 5, 2013, there are 194,743 individuals with CDL endorsements on their driver license. These endorsements break down as follows:
- Class A: 137,681
- Class B: 52,883
- Class C: 4,179
September 12, 2013
DOL recently introduced two new online services that will save our customers time. The first, our Online Driver License Pre-Application, allows individuals seeking their first Washington State driver license or ID card to start the process online to save themselves time in our offices. When they do visit a driver license office, our staff simply verifies the information provided while validating their identity documents.
The second new online application is designed for teens with an instruction (learner’s) permit. After they successfully complete the required traffic safety course and driver testing at a licensed driver training school, they can go online to finalize their driver license and pay the required licensing fees without another visit to a driver licensing office. After completing the simple online process, their new license is mailed to them, saving them the second visit to a driver license office.