Go online and you may be able to skip waiting in line at DOL

July 11, 2017

Since 2015, more than 400,000 customers waited in line unnecessarily at Washington State driver licensing offices for transactions they could have completed from the comfort of home by visiting dol.wa.gov.

If all 400,000 had gone online, the result would have been an average of 13,000 fewer people in line per month. Less in-office traffic means downsized wait times so that customers can quickly get back to the responsibilities and activities in their lives that matter.

Our online services don’t eliminate the need for all in-office transactions, however many common licensing needs such as changing an address or renewing a license can be easily completed on your phone or computer. The information provided at dol.wa.gov can help also you avoid long wait times and unnecessary trips.

Plan on visiting us soon? Review the following reminders for a more efficient experience:

 

  1. Skip a trip, renew online

Did you know that you only need to update your driver license photo every other renewal cycle? That’s once every twelve years! If you don’t need a new photo, just go to dol.wa.gov to see if you can renew and skip the line! You’ll conveniently receive a new license within days and avoid having to come up with a clever hashtag to accompany that obligatory “never ending line at the DOL” tweet. Unsure about whether the services you need are offered online or if you are eligible to renew online? Check out DOL’s online services page.

  1. Know before you go

Arriving at the front of the line just to discover the piece of identification necessary to complete your transaction is sitting on the kitchen counter at home is everyone’s least favorite way to wrap up lunch hour. Visit dol.wa.gov to find out which documents and identification you’ll need to bring in so that our staff can take care of your licensing needs. Also keep in mind that we are not able to accept photocopies of documents.

  1. Visit during the middle of the week

If you must visit an office in person, try to head in before noon — preferably during the middle of the week.  An additional step you can take to avoid line gridlock is to stop by the Office Locations page to check wait times and hours of operation. Bonus tip: Use the office locations page to see if there is an office nearby that has shorter lines than the location you normally visit. Sometimes a few more minutes spent in the car can reduce your wait time significantly.

  1. Beware the lunch hour line

This may seem like a given, but please let us reiterate: Do not visit a licensing office between noon and one pm! We guarantee that on any given afternoon several other people had the exact same idea and staffing may be more limited due to staff rotating off the counter to take their lunch break.

 

  1. Check the calendar for holidays

We know your ideal Christmas Eve would be spent refreshing your newsfeed while waiting for your number to be called, but please avoid visiting us on holidays, as our offices are usually closed. When in doubt, go online to check the hours of operation of the office you plan to visit and remember to anticipate a spike in wait times in the days prior to and following a long weekend.


New law gives Washington more time for federal ID requirement changes

May 18, 2017

Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law this week a measure that brings Washington state into compliance with the federal REAL ID Act, giving residents likely until 2020 before the new federal ID requirements will affect travelers with a Washington driver license or ID card and those seeking entry into some federal facilities and military bases.

That’s because the new law is expected to gain our state a REAL ID compliance extension that will allow a standard Washington driver license or ID card to be used for all federal purposes, including boarding commercial flights until then. Washington joins the ranks of about 20 other states with compliance extensions while they work to implement the federally-mandated changes.

Enhanced Driver Licenses and ID cards will become Washington state’s federally-compliant ID document for domestic air travel and entry into secure areas of federal facilities, but it’s important to remember there are other types of documents that are already valid for federal purposes now and into the future. You may already have one: U.S. or foreign passports, U.S. Passport Cards, military ID, permanent resident cards, Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC card), and several other documents. A complete list is available here.

The new law also lowers the price of state-issued Enhanced Driver Licenses from $108 to $78 starting in late July.

Washington state is currently under a temporary compliance extension and federal officials were provided a formal request for a compliance extension this week after Gov. Inslee signed the legislation into law.


New Washington driver license and ID cards

February 17, 2017

(Post updated March 13, 2:13pm with new sample driver license image)

Washington state is starting to issue newly designed driver licenses and ID cards aimed at better protecting residents from identity theft.

“This new card system has incredible security features in it that will really decrease the amount of counterfeit cards that exist in the world,” said Pat Kohler, director of the state’s Department of Licensing.

Those security features include fine-line printing and ultraviolet ink.

The state will roll-out the new cards over the next several months, beginning at its licensing office in Shelton.

“And sometime this summer, we would finish the roll-out at all of our 56 offices,” Kohler said.

The new licenses and ID cards have a new look, but their functions haven’t changed. The Enhanced Driver Licenses and Enhanced ID Cards (EDLs/EIDs) can be used for all federal identification purposes, including: entering secure federal facilities and, following the January 2018 federal compliance deadline, boarding domestic flights at commercial airports. Standard driver licenses and ID cards are still not valid for these federal purposes.

flyer is available to learn more about these changes and to make sharing this valuable information easy.

 

                                                                       NEW LOOK DOCUMENTS NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE

New header colors on WA driver licenses, enhanced driver license, ID cards

New header colors on WA driver licenses, enhanced driver license, ID cards

Want the new driver license before its available at your local licensing office?

Residents who are eligible to renew their license online will automatically receive the new-look license.

In fact, all documents purchased online will now be issued with the state’s new updates. Those documents also include ID cards, enhanced driver licenses, commercial driver licenses and temporary licenses.

 

BUT WHAT ABOUT MY CURRENT DRIVER LICENSE OR ID CARD?

You might be wondering, So, what about my current driver license?

Kohler said people don’t need to worry because all current licenses will remain valid until they expire, so nobody needs to make a special trip to have their license or ID card replaced.

 

TEMPORARY LICENSE WILL NO LONGER HAVE A PHOTO

Temporary licenses issued in driver licensing offices will now be printed on a full sheet of paper instead of being a paper copy of the actual license. This is similar to how it’s already done online, and will no longer include a photo.

Kohler said removing the photo should help prevent identity theft.

“The current temporary driver’s license is so similar to your original driver’s license that you get in the mail, it creates a false sense of security (because it is simply a temporary document).”

 

“HOW CAN WE IMPROVE THE EXPERIENCE FOR THE CUSTOMER?”

Kohler said the process of updating the state’s Central Issuance System also presented an opportunity at its licensing offices.

“It was great opportunity for us to look at process improvement, and look at how our customers flowed through the office,” she said.

A decision was made to change that flow.

Upon arriving at a licensing office, a customer’s first contact will now be with someone who will review their documents.

Kohler said this change is aimed at ensuring the customer arrived with the correct documentation needed for obtaining a driver license or ID card.

“This will save our customers a lot of time,” Kohler enthused. “They won’t have to sit around and wait, then come up and find out that they didn’t have the required documents.  They’ll immediately be able to find that out and be able to know what they need to come back with.  And at the same time, it doesn’t back up the line.”

Expect to see this new customer flow, wherein documents are reviewed upon the customer’s arrival, at all licensing offices by this summer.

 

VIDEO

The video below offers additional information about the state’s new driver licenses and ID cards.

 

DOL ONLINE

The Department of Licensing’s website is dol.wa.gov.


Fuel tax, some licensing fees will increase July 1

June 10, 2016

Washington State Department of Licensing blog logo

OLYMPIA—On July 1, 2016, state fuel tax and several licensing related fee increases will go into effect in Washington. The increases were approved by the Legislature in 2015 as part of Connecting Washington, a transportation package to fund many important, impactful transportation projects around our state.

These projects include highway and local road construction and maintenance, bike path and walkway projects, rail and transit projects, ferry system improvements and fish barrier removal.

The state fuel tax for both gas and diesel will increase by 4.9 cents to 49.4 cents. State fuel taxes provide funding for state, county and city transportation projects and maintenance, ferry construction and operations and other transportation-related needs.

The Enhanced Driver License fee will increase to $9 per year. This means the cost to upgrade a standard, six-year driver license or ID card to an Enhanced Driver License or Enhanced ID Card will increase from $18 to $54. Enhanced Driver Licenses and Enhanced ID Cards are available to U.S. citizens as federally approved identification that can be used in place of a U.S. Passport at U.S. land and sea border crossing stations.

Several commercial driver license (CDL) fees are increasing. The fee for obtaining a CDL instruction permit will increase from $10 to $40. CDL knowledge (written) tests will increase from $10 to $35, CDL skills (driving) tests will increase from $100 to $250 except for the school bus driver test, which will remain $100. The new CDL skills test fee will allow a driver to take one no-charge retest if the test isn’t passed on the first attempt.

The electric vehicle renewal fee increases $50, from $100 to $150. This fee is collected to mitigate the impact of electric vehicles, which pay little or no fuel taxes, on our state’s roads and highways.

Annual motor vehicle weight fees for passenger vehicles, motorcycles, and other types of vehicles up to 14,000 pounds that pay the state’s $30 basic registration fee will increase. The amount of the increase will range from $15 to $35 depending on the weight of the vehicle. For example, the motor vehicle weight fee for a passenger vehicle weighing 4,000 pounds or less will increase by $15, from $10 to $25.

Gross weight license fees for trucks, commercial vehicles, and other types of vehicles up to 10,000 pounds that are not subject to the state’s $30 basic registration fee also will increase. The amount of this increase also will range from $15 to $35. A new freight project fee will be collected on vehicles subject to the gross weight license fee with a gross weight of more than 10,000 pounds. This fee will be 15 percent of the gross weight license fee due at the time of annual registration.


REAL ID update: DHS announces enforcement date for air travel

January 8, 2016

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced REAL ID Act enforcement for air travel at commercial airports will begin in January 2018 for states that are not compliant with REAL ID or do not have and compliance extension, which is good news for travelers in our state who were concerned REAL ID enforcement would impact upcoming travel plans. DHS also released a Question and Answer document to help address questions many people have how this will impact air travel in our country.

DOL is currently working with state policy makers to assess how this announcement will impact our plans for moving forward. As a reminder, our state’s Enhanced Driver Licenses and Enhanced ID Cards are federally approved for entering federal buildings and for air travel under the REAL ID Act. Please note: increased demand for these documents in recent months has resulted in higher wait times in some of our driver licensing offices. If you are planning to get an enhanced document, you can check the current wait time in the office you plan to visit on the DOL website.

This means Washington state residents will be able to continue to use their standard driver licenses and ID cards to board all domestic commercial flights until enforcement begins in January 2018. After that, it will become important for Washington travelers to ensure they have acceptable identification, which could include a Washington State Enhanced Driver License or Enhanced ID Card, a valid U.S. or foreign Passport, a U.S. Passport Card or one of several other types of federally approved forms of identification.

The federal implementation of the REAL ID Act—passed by Congress in 2005—has been a long process. REAL ID requires states to issue driver licenses and ID cards to meet federal requirements to be accepted as proof of identity at certain secure federal facilities and, starting January 2018, for boarding commercial airline flights.

REAL ID was passed by Congress in 2005 and has seen a number of implementation delays. Washington is among 24 states that have been operating with a REAL ID compliance extension because our regular driver licenses and ID cards do not meet all 41 different REAL ID requirements. In October, 2015, DHS denied our state’s request for another compliance extension which makes Washington state subject to the REAL ID enforcement schedule.

Over the past several years, Washington’s driver licenses and ID cards have met many of the REAL ID requirements (21 out of 41) by adopting national best practices for driver license and ID card security—done regardless of the REAL ID Act. Washington is one of five states that issue Enhanced Driver Licenses and ID cards, which are valid for federal purposes.

 

 


Update: No federal announcement about new identification requirements for air travel

December 31, 2015

Starting January 10, 2016, standard Washington state driver licenses and ID cards may no longer be accepted as a standalone identity document at a limited number of secure federal facilities.

This change does not affect commercial airline travel. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) indicated they would announce when and how REAL ID enforcement would affect air travel at commercial airports by the end of 2015. DHS has not announced this information and has not provided updated information about when they plan to. While many media reports indicate this change will affect air travel in January, in April, or “sometime in 2016,” no information released from DHS supports these reports.

Even under REAL ID, most services provided by the federal government do not require identification to be presented, and that will not change. Washington residents who do not have a federally compliant document will still have access to federal courts, Social Security offices, federal health care facilities, national parks and other public benefits.

The Department of Licensing this week was provided further clarity from the federal General Services Administration, the agency that manages logistics at most federal facilities. They indicate that there are five federal facilities in Washington State that will be subject to REAL ID enforcement—requiring federally acceptable identification documents for entry into these facilities, or requiring secondary screening for persons that do not have a federally acceptable document. The facilities are:

  • U.S. Department of Justice – Seattle Immigration Court, 1000 2nd Ave.
  • Non-customer service federal offices in the 5th and Yesler Building, 300 5th, Seattle
  • Non-customer service areas of Seattle Federal Building, 1200 6th
  • Non-customer service areas of Spokane U.S. Courthouse, 920 W. Riverside Ave.
  • Non-customer service areas of Vancouver Federal Building, 500 W. 12th

However, according to the GSA, a facility security committee could adopt “alternative access control procedures” for these five facilities that would allow individuals to use a standard driver license to enter. It will become important to contact these types of secure federal facilities before visiting if you do not have one of the types of identification documents listed below:

  • Enhanced Driver Licenses and Enhanced ID Card
  • U.S. passport or passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)
  • Transportation worker identification credential (TWIC card)
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • Airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card

This change on January 10 will not have significant impacts on most Washington residents. Washingtonians are encouraged to investigate all of their options for obtaining a federally acceptable ID document like a U.S. Passport/Passport Card, state Enhanced Driver License/ID card, or other ID documents that will be accepted by federal agencies to enter secure federal facilities.

REAL ID was passed by Congress in 2005 and has seen a number of implementation delays. Washington is among 24 states that have been operating with a REAL ID compliance extension because our regular driver licenses and ID cards do not meet all 41 different REAL ID requirements. In October, 2015, DHS denied our state’s request for another compliance extension which makes Washington state subject to the REAL ID enforcement schedule.

Over the past several years, Washington’s driver licenses and ID cards have met many of the REAL ID requirements (21 out of 41) by adopting national best practices for driver license and ID card security—done regardless of the REAL ID Act. Washington is one of five states that issue Enhanced Driver Licenses and ID cards, which are valid for federal purposes.


The facts about REAL ID compliance and Washington state

October 30, 2015

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently informed Washington state of their decision to deny our request for a compliance extension for REAL ID requirements. This means starting as early as January 2016, standard Washington state driver licenses and ID cards may no longer be accepted as a standalone identity document at some secure federal facilities. This does not affect commercial airline travel at this point. The Department of Licensing has issued Enhanced Driver Licenses and Enhanced ID Cards since 2008. These will continue to be federally acceptable documents and can be obtained by Washington residents who are U.S. citizens.

Even under REAL ID, most services provided by the federal government do not require identification to be presented, and that will not change. Washington residents who do not have a federally compliant document will still have access to federal courts, Social Security offices, national parks, and, at this time, boarding flights at commercial airports.

At some point in the future, Washington residents who do not have a federally compliant document will need to use an approved second form of ID with their standard Washington driver license/ID card for boarding domestic commercial airline flights. DHS has indicated that they will announce “the timing and nature” of enforcement for commercial airlines in December, 2015 and that the date will be at least four months from that time. They have provided no further information to states.

It is important to remember that this change will not have significant impacts on typical Washington residents at this time. Most residents don’t regularly visit the secured areas of federal facilities. Washingtonians are encouraged to investigate all of their options for obtaining a federally compliant document like a U.S. Passport/Passport Card, state Enhanced Driver License/ID card, or other ID documents (see below) that will be acceptable by federal agencies to enter secure federal facilities. This includes nuclear power plants, military facilities and other facilities that require ID to enter.

  • Washington is among 24 states that have been operating with a REAL ID compliance extension because our regular driver licenses and ID cards do not meet all 41 different REAL ID requirements. DHS denied our state’s request for another compliance extension which makes our state subject to the REAL ID enforcement schedule. This means our regular driver licenses and ID cards may no longer be accepted at certain secure federal facilities and nuclear power plants – the Department of Homeland Security has not announced a specific date for enforcement to begin at commercial airports.
  • State law currently prohibits the expenditure of state funds to comply with the REAL ID Act. See RCW 46.20.191 and 43.41.390.
  • The Department of Homeland Security compliance schedule indicates REAL ID requirements may be enforced at commercial airports any time after December 31, 2015. However, the exact date remains unknown and at whatever point they announce the date, there will be at least 4-months between the announcement and the date the commercial airport requirements will take effect. DHS has been unclear about specific dates.
  • Since 2008, Washington state has issued Enhanced Driver Licenses and Enhanced ID Cards that federal officials have certified for use as proof of identity for federal purposes. These documents can be used for any purpose a REAL ID compliant license can be used for and have the additional benefit of being an acceptable form of identification at U.S. land and sea border crossing stations in the Western Hemisphere. They are available to U.S. citizens.
  • Over the past several years, DOL has met many of the REAL ID requirements (21 out of 42) just by adopting national best practices for driver license and ID card security—things we would have done regardless of the REAL ID Act. In addition, we will meet several more of the REAL ID requirements once we move to a new driver license and ID card central issuance system in 2017. Many of the REAL ID requirements will be costly for the state to comply with.
  • Additional forms of identification acceptable for federal purposes include:
    • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
    • U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)
    • Permanent resident card
    • Border crossing card
    • Airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
    • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
    • HSPD-12 PIV card
    • Foreign government-issued passport
    • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
    • Transportation worker identification credential