Public hearings set for August on ‘X’ gender option on driver licenses, ID cards

July 31, 2019

X gender driver licenseWashington residents who identify as neither male nor female will soon have the option of listing “X” as their gender on state-issued driver licenses, instruction permits, and ID cards.

But before the change takes effect — possibly as soon as October — the Department of Licensing plans to solicit feedback from the public regarding proposed rule language. Input from the hearings, along with emails and phone calls, will be used to determine if rule wording should be edited.

Join us at any of the following hearings:

Aug. 12, 2019 – 5 p.m.
Seattle Public Library
1000 4th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104

Aug. 13, 2019 – 5 p.m.
Washington State Capitol, Columbia Room
416 Sid Snyder Avenue SW
Olympia, WA 98504

Aug. 15, 2019 – 4 p.m.
Spokane Public Library
3324 South Perry Street
Spokane, WA 99203

If you have questions or need a reasonable accommodation for a hearing, please email rulescoordinator@dol.wa.gov, call 360-902-3846, or send your request by mail to P.O. Box 9020, Olympia, WA 98507.

If you can’t attend a hearing, you can still be heard. Submit a comment online.

Listening sessions were held in June in Seattle and Spokane to gather public sentiment on providing a third gender option. Insights from those sessions were used in drafting rule language.

The move to allow a non-binary designation on driver licenses and ID cards comes more than a year and a half after a similar rule change was enacted by the state Department of Health. As of January 2018, people born in Washington can change their sex designation on their birth certificate to reflect their gender identity.

Adding an “X” gender designation won’t affect the validity of identification used to comply with the REAL ID Act when enforcement begins Oct. 1, 2020.


Downtown Seattle licensing service office is moving to a new location starting July 30

July 22, 2019

DOL logoSeattle is growing, and we’re growing along with it.

Effective Tuesday, July 30, our downtown Seattle licensing service office will be housed in a new location:

450 3rd Ave W, Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98119

July 26 is the last day at the Spring Street office.

Although the new office will normally be open on Mondays, it will be closed July 29 so we can install and test new cameras, finish office setup, and acclimate staff. We’ll be ready to serve the public the following day.

With nearly double the space of the Spring Street office, the new location on 3rd Avenue will help with customer flow and provide a more comfortable environment for visitors and staff. The addition of three work counters, cameras at each workstation, and other updated equipment and software will also help us more effectively meet customer needs.

The change of address won’t affect hours of operation: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.


Motorcycle drivers must have liability insurance under new law that goes into effect July 28

July 18, 2019

Consider this your 10-day warning, motorcycle drivers. As of July 28, 2019, you will no longer be exempt from Washington state’s mandatory auto insurance law.

Under a bill signed into law earlier this year, motorcycle drivers must obtain liability coverage and carry proof of insurance – long required of other motorists.

If you operate a motorcycle or other vehicle without the required insurance, you could be cited for a traffic infraction and receive a hefty fine. Further, if you’re at fault in a collision and you don’t have insurance, your license may be suspended if you fail to pay the resulting damages and/or injuries.

Operators of motorcycles or other vehicles required to be registered in Washington must act on one of the following four options:

1. Carry liability insurance with liability limits of at least:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury or death to another person
  • $50,000 for bodily injury or death to all other people
  • $10,000 for damage to another person’s property

2. Apply for a certificate of deposit to pay for your liability insurance

3. Have a liability bond of at least $60,000 filed by a surety bond company that is authorized to do business in Washington

4. Self-insure if you have 26 or more vehicles

Get details at the Department of Licensing website.

Exceptions to the new law:

  • Motor scooters and mopeds
  • Horseless carriage vehicles over 40 years old
  • State or publicly owned vehicles
  • Common or contract carriers with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission

When you drive a vehicle in Washington that is required to be registered in another state, you must have the type of insurance required by that state. You must also be able to provide proof of this insurance to law enforcement if requested.

Find more information at the Office of the Insurance Commissioner website. There, you can browse licensed agents and brokers and check the status of their license.


Reminder: All boat registration renewals in Washington state are due by June 30

June 7, 2019

Boat registrations in Washington must be renewed by June 30.

As boating season revs up, make sure you’re not left high and dry. To stay valid, boat registrations are due to be renewed by June 30 each year in Washington state.

Registration decals are good for one year, beginning on July 1. If your boat is currently registered, go online to renew for the coming year. You can also visit a vehicle/vessel licensing office.

If your registration is expired:

  • You can renew online for the current registration year only (before June 30).
  • You can renew online for the coming registration year only after you’ve renewed for the current year.
  • If you have not registered for the current year and wish to renew for the coming year, visit a vehicle/vessel licensing office after July 1.

If you are purchasing a boat or bringing one in from out of state, you must register it within 15 days.

Want to receive reminders by email? Sign up at the Department of Licensing website — just scroll to the bottom and click on “Get or update email reminders.” It takes less than a minute.

If you need further assistance, please call 360-902-3770 or email CustomerCare@dol.wa.gov.


DOL Director Teresa Berntsen receives Building Bridges Across the Nation Award

June 4, 2019

Sanjay Panda, right, consul general of India (San Francisco), presents an award to DOL Director Teresa Berntsen on May 30 in Seattle.

Since becoming director of the Department of Licensing in 2018, Teresa Berntsen has made it a priority to build productive relationships with cross-cultural and underserved communities. She moved quickly to create the agency’s first Office of Equity and Inclusion, whose goal is to ensure everyone has a voice in how they access information and services. She implemented mandatory training for all DOL employees to help develop cultural competencies in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. And she’s the driving force behind the agency’s outreach efforts, including an ongoing campaign to prepare all Washington residents — regardless of citizenship status — for air travel ID law changes coming in 2020.

Most importantly, she has made a difference. That was the key takeaway last week in Seattle, where she was honored with the Building Bridges Across the Nation Award by the Washington State India Trade Relations Action Committee (WASITRAC).

Speaking to a packed room of 60 community leaders, many representing the South Asian community in Washington state and beyond, DOL Deputy Chief Information Officer Vel Rajagopal said Berntsen’s core value is to treat everyone with dignity and respect.

“Her biggest strength as a leader is her willingness to be vulnerable,” Rajagopal said. “She considers vulnerability not a weakness, but a strength that brings out the authentic self. I have been personally inspired by her humility and compassion toward the communities we serve.”

Also honored at the event were Rita Meher of Tasveer.org, Washington State Supreme Court Justice Steven Gonzalez, and Justice Ketu Shah of the King County District Court.


DOL commemorates renewal of driver licensing agreement with Taiwan

May 23, 2019

DOL Director Teresa Berntsen, right, welcomed Alex Fan, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Seattle, for a reciprocity agreement renewal signing Thursday.

The Department of Licensing on Thursday commemorated the renewal of an agreement that makes it easier for drivers from Taiwan or Washington state to transfer a license from one place to the other.

The reciprocity agreement allows Taiwan nationals living in Washington, such as college students, to skip the driving and written licensing exams if they are already licensed to drive in Taiwan. Washington residents living in Taiwan have the same option.

In the five years since the initial deal was reached, more than 2,300 Taiwanese drivers have obtained Washington driver licenses through the reciprocity process.

Renewal of the pact was formalized in a signing ceremony in the office of DOL Director Teresa Berntsen, who was joined by Policy and Legislative Director Beau Perschbacher. Representing Taiwan were Alex Fan, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Seattle, and consulate Tony, Nien-Tzu, Hu.

“The signing of this agreement highlights the strong relationship between the state of Washington and Taiwan,” Berntsen said. “It also demonstrates our joint commitment to streamline the licensing process.”

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 licensing service office.

DOL has reciprocity agreements with four other jurisdictions: British Columbia, Germany, South Korea, and Japan.


Spokane Valley licensing service office changing its hours effective July 2, 2019

May 17, 2019

DOL logoEffective Tuesday, July 2, the Spokane Valley licensing service office is changing its hours as follows:

  • Tuesday: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Thursday: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Friday: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Saturday: 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

The Spokane Valley office is located at 12801 E. Sprague Ave., Spokane, WA 99216. It can be reached by phone at 509-921-2358.

The following services will continue to be available:

  • Apply for a new driver license or instruction permit.
  • Get an ID card.
  • Apply for an enhanced driver license/ID card (EDL/EID).
  • Renew a driver license, ID card, or EDL/EID.
  • Change the name or address on your driver license.
  • Request a copy of your driving record.
  • Replace a lost or stolen driver license, ID card, or EDL/EID.
  • Take a CDL knowledge test.

Driver license testing and motorcycle testing are not offered at the Spokane Valley office.

Hours for the Spokane office, located at 9107 N. Country Homes Blvd., Spokane, WA 99218, remain unchanged. It is open Monday through Friday.

See all licensing service office locations.