Expired or expiring soon? Washington driver licenses further extended due to DOL office closures

May 29, 2020

DOL logoDue to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of state driver licensing offices, the Department of Licensing (DOL) is continuing to extend the expiration dates of valid Washington state driver licenses. These automatic extensions apply to personal driver licenses that expire on or after March 1, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2020. This will allow drivers affected by DOL office closures to continue to drive without penalty or incurring late fees.

  • Driver licenses with an expiration date between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2020, already were extended for 90 days and will be extended for an additional 90 days (for a total of 180 days). This means these driver licenses will expire six months after the date shown on the license.
  • Driver licenses with an expiration date between July 1, 2020 and Sept. 30, 2020, will be extended for 90 days. This means these driver licenses will expire three months after the date shown on the license.

The new expiration date will show up on a driver’s record if it is pulled up by law enforcement. New cards will not be issued. DOL recommends printing and carrying this notice and presenting it with an expired license if requested by law enforcement or others who need to verify identity.

Drivers are encouraged to renew online during this extension period. Almost all Washington residents — including those under age 24 and over 70 — are currently eligible to renew their driver licenses, identification cards, or vehicle registrations online. The requirement to visit a licensing office every other renewal has also been suspended.

Drivers or businesses that need to validate an expiration date can check status online.

DOL is unable to issue first-time driver licenses and ID cards, including enhanced driver licenses (EDLs) and enhanced IDs (EIDs), while driver licensing offices are closed. The REAL ID enforcement date was extended to Oct. 1, 2021, so residents who want a compliant document have plenty of time. Pre-apply online.

Many vehicle licensing offices (VLOs) remain open and are able to process in-person, online, and mail-in transactions. Among the services VLOs offer are vehicle registration/tabs (including temporary registration permits for new residents), boat decals, license plates, reports of vehicle sale or transfer of ownership, trip permits, original and replacement titles, and disabled parking placards.

Motorcycle Permits and Endorsements Now Available Online

Eligible Washington residents can now add motorcycle permits and endorsements to their driver license via DOL’s online services.

This means residents are no longer required to visit a licensing office for these needs. Instead, they can log in to License eXpress or select “Renew your license or ID card” without logging in to complete their transaction. A License eXpress account is not required to add a motorcycle permit or endorsement.

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

Updated Motorcycle Operator Manual now available online in English and Spanish

January 8, 2020

Washington Motorcycle Operator ManualWhether you’re thinking about getting a two- or three-wheel motorcycle or you simply want to brush up on riding laws and best practices, the Washington Motorcycle Operator Manual is a great resource.

The newly updated manual is now available online in both English and Spanish. It can be read there, downloaded, and printed. An English-language hard copy can be obtained at any licensing service office, with Spanish versions in production and arriving soon.

The new and improved guide includes information about the new permit and endorsement process, new liability insurance requirements, and much more. It’s everything riders and prospective riders need to know about safely and legally operating a motorcycle on Washington state roads.

The Motorcycle Operator Manual features information provided by National Public Services Research Institute (NPSRI), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), Evergreen Safety Council (ESC), and the American Association of Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA).

For more information on endorsement and permit fees, motorcycle laws, or to find a training/testing provider, visit dol.wa.gov.


2-wheel motorcycle permit and endorsement processes will change on Jan. 1, 2020

November 1, 2019

motorcycleAs part of a broader effort to reduce serious crashes and fatalities on Washington’s roadways, the state is changing its requirements for getting a 2-wheel permit or endorsement.

Starting Jan. 1, 2020, motorcyclists seeking a permit will need to pass a basic knowledge and skills exam. They must pass a more advanced knowledge and skills exam for an endorsement.

Currently, motorcyclists must pass only a basic knowledge exam and skills test for an endorsement.

Also on Jan. 1, the penalty for riding without an endorsement will increase from $136 to $386. The average cost for a motorcycle safety course to obtain an endorsement is $200.

Motorcyclists represent a disproportionately high percentage of fatal and serious injury crashes. Switching to a more comprehensive exam process is in line with Gov. Jay Inslee’s Target Zero goal of reducing serious motor vehicle crashes and fatalities to zero by 2030.

Frequently asked questions about the law changes:

What must I do if I already have a motorcycle permit?

Individuals who already have a permit can take either a training course or a skills test before Dec. 31, 2019, to obtain a 2-wheel endorsement. See approved motorcycle training schools.

What must I do if I already have an endorsement?

Nothing. You’re all set.

What if I have taken a motorcycle knowledge test but I do not have a motorcycle permit?

If you want a motorcycle permit, you must visit a licensing service office to add it to your driver license. If you want a 2-wheel endorsement, you must pass a skills test. After that, you must visit a licensing office by Dec. 31, 2019 to add the endorsement.

What do I need to do if I already have a motorcycle permit but I did not get my endorsement by Dec. 31?

As long as your permit is still valid, take the 2-wheel endorsement-level knowledge test and a 2-wheel endorsement-level skills test. After passing both, visit a licensing office to add an endorsement to your driver license.

Am I able to renew my permit?

You can renew your permit once after Jan. 1, 2020.

What if my permit has expired?

You must start the process again. After Jan. 1, 2020, you must take a permit-level knowledge test and a permit-level skills test if your permit is expired.

What if I am under 18 years old?

If you are under 18, you must complete an approved motorcycle safety course before applying for an endorsement.

What if I want a sidecar/trike permit or endorsement?

The new law is specific to 2-wheel motorcycles. You will need to take a 3-wheel motorcycle training course or take the 3-wheel knowledge and skills tests. See approved trike/sidecar schools.


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.


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.