Gender “X” option now available on driver licenses, instruction permits, and ID cards

November 13, 2019

Starting today, residents can change their gender designation to “X” on a Washington driver license, instruction permit, or identification card. The “X” is an alternative to “M” for male or “F” for female, and is available to anyone.

A third gender option ensures that all Washington residents have identification documents that reflect their gender identity. Accurate gender markers on such documents help residents of all genders access public spaces and resources, and reduce the risk of violence, discrimination, and harassment.

“Everyone deserves to have their lived experience of gender and identity reflected as accurately as possible on their identification documents,” Department of Licensing Director Teresa Berntsen said. “This, in turn, helps reduce barriers to housing, transportation, education, and employment. It’s in service to our purpose of helping all Washington residents live, work, drive, and thrive.”

An “X” gender designation will not affect the validity of identification used to comply with the REAL ID Act when enforcement begins Oct. 1, 2020. The REAL ID-compliant forms of identification issued by Washington state are the enhanced driver license (EDL) and enhanced ID card (EID), though residents have other options.

Before adding “X” as a gender option, DOL held public hearings in August in Seattle, Spokane, and Olympia regarding rule language. In June, listening sessions were held in Seattle and Spokane to solicit public opinion.

The move to allow a nonbinary designation on driver licenses and ID cards aligns with a similar rule change enacted by the state Department of Health. As of January 2018, people born in Washington can change their gender designation on their birth certificate.


REAL ID rush is coming: Avoid the crowds, renew up to a year early

September 12, 2019

Did you know you can renew your Washington state driver license or ID card up to a year before it expires?

If you’re considering it, now’s the time to act. Licensing service offices tend to be less busy from September through April. And 2020 is no ordinary year.

On Oct. 1, 2020, the REAL ID Act goes into effect. Under this federal law, standard driver licenses and IDs will no longer be valid for the purposes of flying or accessing facilities such as military bases. Washington residents have several options for acceptable identification, including an enhanced driver license (EDL) or enhanced ID (EID).

A resident’s first EDL or EID can’t be obtained without visiting an office. Thus, the Department of Licensing expects a significant surge of in-person transactions as REAL ID enforcement draws closer.

This will inevitably lead to longer lines and wait times, but you can avoid the crowds by renewing early. Many customers can renew online. If you need to come in, choose any office.

Whatever you do, don’t delay. Our offices are only going to get busier as October 2020 approaches, and nobody likes sitting in traffic.

Even if you’ve been putting it off, it’s not too late to save yourself some time and trouble. If your license or ID is expired 60 days or less, there’s no late fee to renew (though you could be penalized by law enforcement). If your license is expired over 60 days, the late fee is $10.

Learn more about REAL ID.