All driver licensing offices will temporarily close to the public beginning Tuesday, March 31, 2020

March 30, 2020

DOL logoThe Department of Licensing (DOL) is temporarily closing all driver licensing lobbies beginning Tuesday, March 31, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All appointments are being canceled at this time and no appointments will be made going forward.

“The safety and health of both employees and customers is paramount. Sanitation products continue to be difficult to purchase and ensuring appropriate social distancing during in person transactions is difficult” said Teresa Berntsen, Department of Licensing director. “We appreciate patience and understanding as the Department of Licensing does its part to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Expanded Online Renewals

Most Washington residents are now eligible to renew their licenses, identification cards, or vehicle registrations online. We strongly encourage everyone to take advantage of those services if possible.

Many rules have been relaxed to accommodate online services. Persons under age 24 and over 70 may renew online for the next 30 days, or longer if deemed necessary. Additionally, DOL is also suspending the requirement to visit a licensing office every other renewal.

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

REAL ID Enforcement Date Extended

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

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’s a good idea to check a VLO’s status and call ahead.

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

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.


DOL takes steps to protect the health and safety of customers and employees

March 20, 2020

Customer service announcement

The Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) today announced new actions it is taking to protect the health and safety of customers and employees during the coronavirus pandemic.

Starting Monday, March 23, more customers will be able to renew their driver licenses and identification cards online. Customers whose transactions require a visit to a driver licensing service office will be served on an appointment-only basis if their needs involve essential functions as outlined by the governor. This will significantly reduce the number of people in our offices at any given time, allowing us to better manage customer flow and ensure social distancing.

Expanded Online Renewals

If possible, as a first option please take advantage of the dozens of services offered online at dol.wa.gov.

Starting March 23, persons under age 24 and over 70 may renew online for the next 30 days, longer if deemed necessary. DOL is also suspending the requirement to visit a licensing office every other renewal.

Most vehicle registration renewals can be done online, by mail, or over the phone. Vehicle registration renewals that are not eligible to use an alternative service channel include:

  • Outdated insurance information
  • Registration expired for 90 days or more
  • Recent transfer to the state

If You Can’t Complete Your Transaction Online

Those unable to complete their transaction online can make an appointment to visit a DOL office. Transactions servicing essential functions will be prioritized.

To make an appointment, call 360-902-3900. Customers who show up to an office without an appointment will be scheduled for a return visit or redirected to alternative service channels in order to complete their DOL business.

Please be patient when calling for an appointment. Call volumes are very high.

Examples of situations that require an office visit include:

  • Applications for commercial driver licenses
  • Applications for a new driver license or identification card (standard or enhanced)
  • Certain complex transactions, such as reinstatements
  • Inability to renew online due to not having a bank account or access to the internet

Vision tests in our offices are temporarily suspended due to lack of adequate cleaning supplies.

Drive tests will not be available. There is no way to create social distancing in a vehicle. In Washington, drive tests are required for young drivers and persons who require medical re-exams. Contact your local private driver training school to find out if tests are still being offered there.

Ten driver licensing offices reopen for appointments at 1 p.m. March 23, with more taking appointments starting 1 p.m. March 24. The following travel offices will not open until the week of April 6 at the earliest: Chelan, Clarkston, Coulee Dam, Davenport, Forks, Friday Harbor, Goldendale, Morton, Newport, Oroville, Republic, and South Bend.

Public Counters for Businesses, Professions, and Fuel Tax Remain Closed

In addition to driver licensing offices, all public counters for businesses, professions, and fuel tax payments will stay closed until further notice. All such services can be done online, over the phone, or by mail.

Social Distancing Measures in DOL Offices

In addition to limiting the number of people in our offices, seating is being reduced in all lobbies to create more space between seats, and licensing workers will work 6 feet apart.

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/appointment scheduling: 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.


DOL statement regarding facial recognition technology

July 8, 2019

DOL logoJuly 8, 2019 For Immediate Release.

News Reports – ICE and the FBI using facial recognition technology to scan state driver’s license databases.

Statement from Department of Licensing Director Teresa Berntsen:

“National news reports about federal law enforcement and immigration officials’ use of state facial recognition databases has led to a high level of misunderstanding and confusion about how our state Department of Licensing protects this data. Our DOL has implemented strict standards to ensure data is not released to any law enforcement entity for immigration purposes or without a judicial court order or subpoena. There is no external access to the Facial Recognition System. System access is limited to very few specially trained DOL staff. We take very seriously our responsibility to protect the data and information of all Washingtonians.”

Background

The Washington Post reported ICE and the FBI using facial recognition technology to scan state driver’s license databases, including photos of legal residents and citizens. The Department of Licensing does not provide access to our Facial Recognition System to local, state, or federal law enforcement entities. They must provide the agency with a court order signed by a judge.

The New York Times states “agents authorized administrative subpoenas of the Department of Licensing to conduct a facial recognition scan of all photos of license applicants, though it was unclear whether the state carried out the searches.” The agency received 53 requests through court order or subpoena since 2013. Thirteen of those were federal requests. None have been received from 2017 to present. The remaining 40 were from local and state law enforcement entities.

Federal requests include:

  • One – U.S. Department of Justice
  • Two – Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Four – Department of Homeland Security/Immigrations and Customs Enforcement
  • Six – U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

If a match was found through any request during this time, DOL would provide limited identity information.

DOL’s Use of Facial Recognition Technology

  • KUOW ran the headline “ICE uses Washington driver’s licenses to hunt immigrants for deportation, researchers say.” This is incorrect. No entity has access to DOL’s facial recognition system. They would provide a photo and DOL would conduct the research.
  • Law enforcement entities have no access to “mine” DOL’s state driver’s license databases using facial recognition technology.
  • As of February 2018, all requests must be court ordered.

DOL’s Facial Recognition Process

  • After receiving a court-ordered subpoena, DOL performs a search by comparing the photo provided by a law enforcement entity with DOL’s database. If a match occurs between the photo provided by the entity with a photo in DOL’s database, DOL provides the individual’s first, middle, and last name, date of birth, and ID or driver license number.
  • The Department of Licensing does the research. There is no direct external access to the facial recognition system. System access is limited to very few specially trained DOL staff.

Immigration and Citizenship Status                                                                        

  • The Department of Licensing does not collect information regarding a person’s immigration or citizenship status.
  • The Department of Licensing does not collect place of birth.
  • The Department of Licensing does not provide Social Security numbers.

Governor’s Executive Orders

  • The Department of Licensing is committed to following the Governor’s Executive Order 17-01 Reaffirming Washington’s commitment to Tolerance, Diversity and inclusiveness.
  • We fully comply with Executive Order 16-01, Privacy Protection and Transparency in State Government. We only collect information that is necessary to perform our agency duties to establish identification and driving privileges.

DOL signs agreements with four Latin American General Consulates regarding acceptable proof of identity

September 7, 2018

Department of Licensing Director Teresa Berntsen, and four Consulates Generals of Seattle representing El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Peru, signed an agreement this morning that allows the acceptance of their national ID cards and consulate cards to be used as proof of identity when seeking a Washington State driver license or identification card.

“Today marks a milestone in the Department of Licensing’s efforts to improve customer service and build relationships of trust,” said Berntsen. “We understand the importance of establishing identity when you become a resident of our state.  Working in partnership, we were able to create a process to make it happen.”

The agreements were signed by Elgardo de Jesús Chavez, Consulate of Honduras, Claudia Gatica de Moreno, Consulate of Guatemala, Miguel Ángel Velásquez Garcia, Consulate of Perú, and Clary Monzón, Consulate of El Salvador.

Group_finalLeft to right: DOL – Brad Benfield, Assistant Director; Meghann McCann, Deputy Director; Beau Perschbacher, Policy and Legislative Director; Teresa Berntsen, Director; Elgardo de Jesús Chavez, Consulate of Honduras; Claudia Gatica de Moreno, Consulate of Guatemala; Miguel Ángel Velásquez Garcia, Consulate of Perú; Clary Monzón, Consulate of El Salvador; and DOL Outreach Manager Rafael Estevez.

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.