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.


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.


DOL, Germany commemorate renewal of driver license reciprocity agreement

March 21, 2019

DOL’s Beau Perschbacher, center, and Meg McCann welcomed Uli Fischer, Boris Ruge, and Ulrich Suedbeck (left to right) of Germany.

This week, the Department of Licensing — represented by Beau Perschbacher, center, and Meg McCann — welcomed some special guests from Germany: Uli Fischer, Boris Ruge, and Ulrich Suedbeck (left to right).

They were in Olympia for a ceremonial signing to commemorate the renewal of a driver license reciprocity agreement. The pact allows Germans living in the state to exchange their German license for a Washington one without having to go back through the testing process. The same courtesy is extended to Washingtonians living in Germany.

The agreement has been in place for 14 years, during which time more than 4,000 Germans have obtained Washington driver licenses via the agreement.


National Teen Driver Safety Week now underway

October 22, 2018

Click image for larger view of “the 6 rules.”

Each year, more than 100 young people die on Washington roadways. Teen Driver Safety Week, October 21 – 27, aims to help reduce those numbers while raising awareness about teen driving nationwide.

It’s a great opportunity for parents to focus on helping their teens learn how to become better drivers.

The Department of Licensing will be sharing helpful information about teen driver safety on its Twitter and Facebook pages throughout this week.

DOL’s social media will be sharing information about distracted driving, seat belt use, underage drinking, driving under the influence of marijuana, rules for the road, and more.

You can also learn more about teen driver safety on this fact sheet. The sheet includes steps parents can take to help teens become better drivers.

The state’s Target Zero campaign also has this helpful info graphic for parents, too.


Washington state has met all requirements to comply with REAL ID Act

October 8, 2018
ID2020 logo

On Oct. 1, 2020, the REAL ID law goes into effect in Washington.

The Department of Homeland Security has determined that Washington state is fully compliant with federal REAL ID requirements, which means standard driver licenses and ID cards will continue to be accepted for boarding a domestic flight through September 2020.

It’s important to know that beginning Oct. 1, 2020, individuals will need to present federally acceptable identification at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint in order to board a domestic flight.

“Washington residents have two years to look at your identity document options and determine which one best fits your lifestyle,” said Teresa Berntsen, DOL director. “We created the ID2020 campaign to help residents educate themselves on the various options, and encourage them not to wait until 2020 to make a decision.”

There are a variety of identity documents that can be used to board an airplane or enter secure federal facilities, including:

  • U.S. or foreign passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • Military ID
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • Enhanced driver license
  • One of several other types of federally approved forms of identification (tsa.gov)

Washington’s enhanced driver licenses (EDLs) and enhanced ID (EIDs) cards are REAL ID compliant, valid for air travel within the United States, and can be used to cross the borders of Canada and Mexico by land or sea. Some commonly needed documents to get an EDL/EID are certified birth certificate, U.S. passport, or military ID. A full list of document options to obtain an enhanced driver license or ID card is available on the DOL website.

The enhanced driver license or ID card is optional. A valid U.S. passport or U.S. passport card, military ID, or other federally approved identification can be used to board a domestic flight or enter certain federal facilities. If a resident has another federally approved identification, does not fly, or does not plan to visit a military base or certain federal facilities such as prisons, they do not need an enhanced card and will have the option to apply for a standard driver license or ID card.

Visit id2020wa.com to view informational videos, take a quiz to help determine which ID you may need, and learn more about REAL ID.

Learn more about REAL ID and what it means for Washington.


Department of Licensing launches a new, fully modernized driver licensing system

September 4, 2018

Drives logo

The Washington State Department of Licensing launched a modernized driver licensing system over Labor Day weekend. Customers will experience slower service during this transitional time.

The new system will improve services to citizens, agency business partners, and the state’s transportation system. State and federal agencies that rely on DOL data for public safety, licenses, identification cards, and revenue will also benefit from the new system.

This is the second in a series of overhauls to DOL’s legacy systems.  The first phase, which updated vehicle licensing systems, was successfully completed in December 2016.  A third project is planned to address the agency’s Business and Professional Licensing systems.

For more information about DRIVES, visit http://www.dol.wa.gov/about/what-is-drives.html.


Update — DOL office closures and online services temporary shutdown is happening this week

August 28, 2018

Click for larger view.

The Department of Licensing’s transition to a new and improved computer system is underway.

It started with some of our online services beginning to shutdown on Sunday, August 26.  Those online services will return on Monday, September 4.

Next up?  Two major developments begin this Friday:

All driver licenses offices will be closed this Friday, August 31, through Monday, September 3.

And all vehicle licensing offices will be unable to do vehicle transactions from August 31 through Monday, September 3.

All of these impacted areas—driver licensing offices, vehicle transactions, and online services—will be available on Tuesday, September 4.

DOL apologizes for any inconvenience these closures may cause.

We also look forward to serving you better than ever before, thanks to our state’s new, user-friendly computer system for driver and vehicle services.

For more information, please visit dol.wa.gov.