State begins rolling out six-year driver licenses on February 10

February 6, 2014


Beginning February 10, all new driver license applicants will receive a license that’s valid for six years, as the Department of Licensing starts transitioning from a five-year to a six-year driver license.

New driver license applicants include individuals applying for their first license and those who are transferring their licenses from another state.

The per-year cost for a driver license will remain at $9 per year, but new applicants will pay for the additional year, which changes the fee from $45 to $54, not including the $35 application fee.

Adding a new motorcycle endorsement for up to six years will cost $2 per year.

Washingtonians who are obtaining their first Washington state ID cards will also be issued a card valid for six years beginning on February 10, at a cost of $54, or $9 per year.

Those renewing a current Washington driver licenses or ID cards will start transitioning to a six-year renewal period later this year.

In 2012, the Washington State Legislature authorized extending driver’s license terms from five to six years to improve customer service by reducing customer volumes and wait times in driver license offices.

DOL makes managing driver and vehicle licenses easier

September 17, 2012
DOL image

DOL image

OLYMPIA—The Department of Licensing introduced a fast, easy way to manage your driver license and all of your vehicle, trailer and boat licenses in one secure online service called License Express.

This new service allows people to take care of all of the most common DOL license transactions like renewals and address changes. It also makes it easy to take care of many less common tasks like ordering a duplicate driver license or ID card, signing up for email renewal reminders, ordering copies of your driving record and report the sale of vehicles or boats.

It’s no secret our customers typically dread a trip to a local driver licensing office to wait for service,” Licensing Director Alan Haight said. “License Express is like having a DOL office at home.”

License Express ties together DOL’s most popular online services that, individually, have been used more than 2.5 million times by customers wanting to skip a trip to an office. DOL plans to keep improving this new service over time and adding more features to make it even more useful and save DOL customers more time.

License Express takes advantage of a highly secure login process through the state’s Secure Access Washington service to safeguard personal information.

DOL customers can learn more about this new service and sign up at the DOL website at

DOL history file — 1905

December 17, 2009
Vehicles on Pike Street in Seattle in 1902, prior to state vehicle licensing requirements.

Vehicles on Pike Street in Seattle in 1902, prior to state vehicle licensing requirements. Photo courtesy of Washington State Digital Archives.

By Brad Benfield

The Washington State Legislature established the Motor Vehicle License Division under the Office of the Secretary of State in 1905. This new division was responsible for registering and issuing vehicle license numbers to the state’s growing number of personal vehicles. 

The division issued license numbers—not license plates. The vehicle owner was responsible for creating their own license plate out of wood or leather. The license number also could be painted directly on the front and rear of the vehicle.

At this time the licensing fee for a vehicle was $2, and all vehicle licenses expired on the same day—May 31st. If a vehicle owner failed to renew their registration before June 1, their license number would be assigned to someone else and they would have to make a new set of plates or repaint them on their vehicle. 

A total of 763 licenses were issued in 1905. The first of these was issued to S. A. Perkins of Tacoma on May 2nd, for a 30 horsepower Pope-Toledo touring car.