REAL ID rush is coming: Avoid the crowds by renewing up to a year early

September 12, 2019

Did you know you can renew your Washington state driver license or ID card up to a year before it expires?

If you’re considering it, now’s the time to act. Licensing service offices tend to be less busy from September through April. And next year is no ordinary year.

On Oct. 1, 2020, the REAL ID Act goes into effect. Under this federal law, standard driver licenses and IDs will no longer be valid for the purposes of flying or accessing facilities such as military bases. Washington residents have several options for acceptable identification, including an enhanced driver license (EDL) or enhanced ID (EID).

A resident’s first EDL or EID can’t be obtained without visiting an office. Thus, the Department of Licensing expects a significant surge of in-person transactions as REAL ID enforcement draws closer.

This will inevitably lead to longer lines and wait times, but you can avoid the crowds by renewing early. Many customers can renew online. If you need to come in, choose any office.

Whatever you do, don’t delay. Our offices are only going to get busier as October 2020 approaches, and nobody likes sitting in traffic.

Even if you’ve been putting it off, it’s not too late to save yourself some time and trouble. If your license or ID is expired 60 days or less, there’s no late fee to renew (though you could be penalized by law enforcement). If your license is expired over 60 days, the late fee is $10.

Learn more about REAL ID.


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.


Downtown Seattle licensing service office is moving to a new location starting July 30

July 22, 2019

DOL logoSeattle is growing, and we’re growing along with it.

Effective Tuesday, July 30, our downtown Seattle licensing service office will be housed in a new location:

450 3rd Ave W, Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98119

July 26 is the last day at the Spring Street office.

Although the new office will normally be open on Mondays, it will be closed July 29 so we can install and test new cameras, finish office setup, and acclimate staff. We’ll be ready to serve the public the following day.

With nearly double the space of the Spring Street office, the new location on 3rd Avenue will help with customer flow and provide a more comfortable environment for visitors and staff. The addition of three work counters, cameras at each workstation, and other updated equipment and software will also help us more effectively meet customer needs.

The change of address won’t affect hours of operation: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.


Reminder: All boat registration renewals in Washington state are due by June 30

June 7, 2019

Boat registrations in Washington must be renewed by June 30.

As boating season revs up, make sure you’re not left high and dry. To stay valid, boat registrations are due to be renewed by June 30 each year in Washington state.

Registration decals are good for one year, beginning on July 1. If your boat is currently registered, go online to renew for the coming year. You can also visit a vehicle/vessel licensing office.

If your registration is expired:

  • You can renew online for the current registration year only (before June 30).
  • You can renew online for the coming registration year only after you’ve renewed for the current year.
  • If you have not registered for the current year and wish to renew for the coming year, visit a vehicle/vessel licensing office after July 1.

If you are purchasing a boat or bringing one in from out of state, you must register it within 15 days.

Want to receive reminders by email? Sign up at the Department of Licensing website — just scroll to the bottom and click on “Get or update email reminders.” It takes less than a minute.

If you need further assistance, please call 360-902-3770 or email CustomerCare@dol.wa.gov.


DOL Director Teresa Berntsen receives Building Bridges Across the Nation Award

June 4, 2019

Sanjay Panda, right, consul general of India (San Francisco), presents an award to DOL Director Teresa Berntsen on May 30 in Seattle.

Since becoming director of the Department of Licensing in 2018, Teresa Berntsen has made it a priority to build productive relationships with cross-cultural and underserved communities. She moved quickly to create the agency’s first Office of Equity and Inclusion, whose goal is to ensure everyone has a voice in how they access information and services. She implemented mandatory training for all DOL employees to help develop cultural competencies in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. And she’s the driving force behind the agency’s outreach efforts, including an ongoing campaign to prepare all Washington residents — regardless of citizenship status — for air travel ID law changes coming in 2020.

Most importantly, she has made a difference. That was the key takeaway last week in Seattle, where she was honored with the Building Bridges Across the Nation Award by the Washington State India Trade Relations Action Committee (WASITRAC).

Speaking to a packed room of 60 community leaders, many representing the South Asian community in Washington state and beyond, DOL Deputy Chief Information Officer Vel Rajagopal said Berntsen’s core value is to treat everyone with dignity and respect.

“Her biggest strength as a leader is her willingness to be vulnerable,” Rajagopal said. “She considers vulnerability not a weakness, but a strength that brings out the authentic self. I have been personally inspired by her humility and compassion toward the communities we serve.”

Also honored at the event were Rita Meher of Tasveer.org, Washington State Supreme Court Justice Steven Gonzalez, and Justice Ketu Shah of the King County District Court.


Spokane Valley licensing service office changing its hours effective July 2, 2019

May 17, 2019

DOL logoEffective Tuesday, July 2, the Spokane Valley licensing service office is changing its hours as follows:

  • Tuesday: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Thursday: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Friday: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Saturday: 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

The Spokane Valley office is located at 12801 E. Sprague Ave., Spokane, WA 99216. It can be reached by phone at 509-921-2358.

The following services will continue to be available:

  • Apply for a new driver license or instruction permit.
  • Get an ID card.
  • Apply for an enhanced driver license/ID card (EDL/EID).
  • Renew a driver license, ID card, or EDL/EID.
  • Change the name or address on your driver license.
  • Request a copy of your driving record.
  • Replace a lost or stolen driver license, ID card, or EDL/EID.
  • Take a CDL knowledge test.

Driver license testing and motorcycle testing are not offered at the Spokane Valley office.

Hours for the Spokane office, located at 9107 N. Country Homes Blvd., Spokane, WA 99218, remain unchanged. It is open Monday through Friday.

See all licensing service office locations.


East Vancouver licensing service office switching to Monday-Friday schedule starting July 1, 2019

May 15, 2019

DOL logoThe East Vancouver licensing office is switching to a Monday-Friday schedule to better serve the needs of area residents. Effective July 1, 2019, this office — located at 1301 NE 136th Ave. — will be open as follows:

  • Monday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Tuesday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Thursday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Friday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

To prepare for this change, the office will be closed Saturday, June 29. The North Vancouver office, located at 9609 NE 117th Ave. (building 27, suite 2730), is staying on a Tuesday-Saturday schedule, or you can find an alternate location.

The following services will continue to be available at the East Vancouver office:

  • Apply for a new driver license or instruction permit.
  • Get an ID card.
  • Apply for an enhanced driver license/ID card (EDL/EID).
  • Renew a driver license, ID card, or EDL/EID.
  • Change the name or address on your driver license.
  • Request a copy of your driving record.
  • Replace a lost or stolen driver license, ID card, or EDL/EID.
  • Take a CDL knowledge test.

Driver license testing and motorcycle testing are not offered at the East Vancouver office.

Many services are available online.

The East Vancouver office can be reached at 360-260-6288.