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.

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

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.


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.


Bellevue-Redmond licensing service office moves to new, bigger location starting Jan. 7, 2020

January 6, 2020

DOL logoEffective Tuesday, Jan. 7, the Bellevue-Redmond licensing service office has a new home: 7225 170th Ave NE, Redmond, WA 98052.

The new, renovated location features more counters, enabling us to provide better, more efficient customer service. It also has a much bigger parking lot than the old location on Bel-Red Road in Bellevue. The last day of operation at that office was Jan. 4.

Go online anytime to see office hours, up-to-the-minute wait times, and services offered at the new Bellevue-Redmond office (or any licensing office in Washington).

The new office can be reached by phone at 425-649-4281. Customer questions can also be directed to our call center at 360-902-3900 or by email to CustomerCare@dol.wa.gov. Many services do not require an office visit and may be available at dol.wa.gov.


Initiative 976-related changes to vehicle registration fees and taxes on hold after injunction

November 15, 2019

DOL logo

UPDATE – NOV. 27, 2019: A King County Superior Court judge has issued an injunction in the court challenge to Initiative 976. The Washington State Department of Licensing will continue to collect all vehicle fees and taxes unless directed otherwise by a court. See our updated Fact Sheet for more information.


Nov. 15, 2019 – After the recent passage of I-976, commonly known as the $30 car-tab initiative, the Washington State Department of Licensing is working to implement changes to affected vehicle registration fees and taxes. The initiative takes effect Dec. 5, 2019.

Any possible changes to the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET), also known as the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) tax, will happen later. While DOL collects this tax, it goes toward Sound Transit projects.

DOL is working to understand the effects of pending legal actions related to I-976. Implementation efforts will persist unless a court directs otherwise.

I-976 reduces or eliminates several fees and taxes while retaining others.