Driver license expiration dates extended 90 days

April 4, 2020

Gov. Jay Inslee has taken action to allow the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) to temporarily extend the expiration dates of driver licenses.

The DOL will send letters to persons whose driver licenses expired after March 1, 2020, and have not been renewed, and to those whose licenses will expire through June 30, 2020. These card holders’ expiration dates will be extended for 90 days.

The new expiration date will show up on a person’s driver record if it is pulled up by law enforcement. You will not receive a new card.

Please renew online, if possible.

Important Information for CDL Holders

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has granted an extension on the validity of commercial driver licenses (CDLs) that were valid on Feb. 29 and which expire on or after March 1, 2020. DOL will send letters to CDL holders set to expire during this time notifying them their license is extended to June 30, 2020.

Commercial drivers should carry a copy of their expired medical certificate to show their license or permit expiration date was on or after March 1, 2020.

DOL Offices Are Temporarily Closed; Use Expanded Online Renewal Services

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, DOL driver licensing offices are temporarily closed to the public. However, most Washington residents are now eligible to renew their driver licenses, identification cards, or vehicle registrations online.

Persons under age 24 and over 70 may renew online for a limited time. Additionally, DOL is suspending the requirement to visit a licensing office every other renewal.

Mail-in options are available for a number of transactions, such as vehicle registrationoriginal title transactions, and driver license renewal.

Vehicle Titling and Registration Online and By Mail

Vehicle licensing offices (VLOs) are contracted through county auditors and may be open. VLOs handle vehicle tabs, boat decals, and new license plates, reports of vehicle sale or transfer of ownership, vehicle/boat registrations, trip permits, replacement titles, and disabled parking placards or tabs. It is a good idea to check a VLO’s status and call ahead.

REAL ID Enforcement Date Extended

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has announced that the REAL ID enforcement date has been extended to Oct. 1, 2021. Customers who want a REAL ID-compliant document will have an opportunity to apply at a later date.

Contact Us

The DOL call center is open during normal business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday; Thursday hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Please be patient, as call volume is high.

  • Driver licensing: 360-902-3900
  • Vehicle licensing: 360-902-3770
  • Email: CustomerCare@dol.wa.gov

REAL ID enforcement date postponed indefinitely due to coronavirus pandemic

March 24, 2020

Child at airportPresident Trump announced Monday that enforcement of the REAL ID Act has been postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic. This decision is expected to promote social distancing in the months ahead by reducing the number of people visiting driver licensing offices to obtain compliant identification.

Passed by Congress in 2005 in an effort to strengthen security standards after 9/11, the REAL ID Act had been scheduled to take effect Oct. 1, 2020. A new deadline has not been set.

When enforcement of the REAL ID Act begins, every air traveler 18 years of age or older will need a compliant form of ID in order to fly within the United States or access certain federal buildings, including military bases. There are many options.

Washington state issues two types of REAL ID-compliant documents: enhanced driver licenses (EDLs) and enhanced ID cards (EIDs). These can be obtained only by visiting a driver licensing service office. With the enforcement date pushed back, residents seeking an ID upgrade can rest a little easier and avoid our offices for a while.

Residents with standard driver licenses and IDs who will eventually want an enhanced version can renew online now and upgrade later for only the difference in cost ($4 per year).

About one-third of Americans have a REAL ID-compliant document, according to the Department of Homeland Security.


As temporary grace period takes effect, DOL urges online renewals for all driver licenses and ID cards

March 23, 2020

Renew online at dol.wa.govSocial distancing measures are key to efforts to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. With that in mind, the Department of Licensing is urging all eligible residents to go online to renew their Washington state driver license or identification card.

If your document expires anytime within the next year, you can renew online for the next 30 days.

Even if you renewed online last time.

Even if you’re under age 24 or over 70.

Because of the governor’s recent emergency proclamation, a provision in state law that requires every other renewal to be in person was temporarily suspended. Persons under age 24 and over 70 also were exempted and all vision tests waived for 30 days.

Please take advantage of these relaxed rules and renew online now. It will save you time and, more importantly, risk of exposure to COVID-19.

If you are unable to complete your transaction online and it involves an essential function as outlined in the governor’s guidelines, you can make an appointment by calling 360-902-3900. Please be patient, as call volumes are high.

We appreciate your patience as we work to make our offices – and our processes – safer for visitors and DOL staff alike.


Licensing service offices temporarily closed to public to help limit spread of coronavirus

March 16, 2020

DOL logoIn response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Washington state, the Department of Licensing is temporarily closing its driver licensing offices and other service counters to the public starting Tuesday, March 17. DOL employees will be working to implement social distancing measures in these offices to protect the health of customers and workers while delivering critical services to the public.

Gov. Jay Inslee today signed a statewide emergency proclamation regarding efforts to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, approving the temporary suspension of two provisions in state law. This will allow us to take the following actions to promote social distancing. These waivers are in effect 30 days from their effective dates unless renewed.

  • Effective immediately, we will not administer vision tests for driver license applicants. We currently do not have adequate supplies to clean the machines. Additionally, vision exams have a 99.6% pass rate. We believe this move is prudent given the circumstances.
  • Effective March 23 (because we need time to implement), more people will be able to renew their driver license or ID card online. Laws and rules were temporarily suspended that require residents to visit an office to renew every other time and prohibited customers under age 24 and over 70 from renewing online.

As it stands, driver licensing offices are expected to resume business Monday, March 23. But residents should be prepared for the possibility of extended closures.

“We do not take the decision to close any office lightly,” said Teresa Berntsen, Department of Licensing director. “Amid an unprecedented health emergency, we are taking these extraordinary steps in the best interests of the public we serve. Please heed the governor’s orders, as we have, to help limit the spread of the novel coronavirus in our communities through appropriate social distancing. Our thanks to Gov. Inslee for his support in providing additional options for more residents to be able to use our online services.”

Residents are encouraged to go online to dol.wa.gov, if possible, for their licensing needs.

Vehicle licensing offices (VLOs) are contracted through county auditors and may be open. VLOs handle vehicle tabs, boat decals, new license plates, reports of vehicle sale or transfer of ownership, vehicle/boat registrations, trip permits, replacement titles, and disabled parking placards or tabs. It’s a good idea to check a VLO’s status and call ahead.

Questions? Contact us:

  • Driver licensing: 360-902-3900
  • Vehicle licensing: 360-902-3770
  • Email: CustomerCare@dol.wa.gov

Upgrade or renew your driver license/ID now — or be prepared for a very long wait

February 20, 2020
Good and bad ID options

When the REAL ID law goes into effect Oct. 1, standard Washington driver licenses and standard IDs will no longer be accepted for air travel.

Been meaning to upgrade to an enhanced driver license or identification card? Hurry!

License or ID card set to expire in the next year? Renew now!

Don’t procrastinate.

Do. Not. Wait.

Because the longer you wait to address your licensing needs, the longer you can expect to wait in line.

How long? By late summer, it could be hours.

New federal ID requirements for air travel go into effect Oct. 1. Under the new law, known as the REAL ID Act, a standard Washington driver license or ID card will no longer be accepted for the purposes of domestic air travel or accessing federal facilities such as military bases.

Although residents can choose from many acceptable ID options, we expect a sharp increase in applications for enhanced driver licenses and enhanced ID cards. These REAL ID-compliant forms of identification can be obtained only by bringing the necessary documents to a licensing office.

That means we could be processing hundreds of thousands of last-minute transactions.

If you already have what you need to fly and just want to renew, you might be able to skip a trip and go online. Remember, you can renew up to a year before your license or ID expires; your renewal term will still begin when your current term ends.

If an office visit is unavoidable, you can see up-to-the-minute wait times before you go. Just click on your chosen location and check the right side of the page.

Wait times can vary greatly depending on the office, the day, and even the time of day. Some offices, especially along the I-5 corridor, can experience wait times 3-4 times longer than average. A little planning can save you a lot of time.

Best times to visit tend to be:

  • Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays
  • Weekday mornings

Busiest times tend to be:

  • Lunch time
  • The first day the office is open after a holiday
  • Weekdays after 3 p.m., when children are out of school

See more tips for visiting a licensing service office.


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.