Apply for a first-time instruction permit online

July 9, 2020

DOL logoAs the Department of Licensing (DOL) continues to look for new ways to provide services online, customers can now apply for a first-time driver instruction permit through dol.wa.gov.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Jay Inslee waived the instruction permit requirement for in-person signatures. Customers who previously scheduled an appointment to get an instruction permit at a driver licensing office may log into their License eXpress account and cancel their appointment once they’ve completed the online process.

How to Apply on License eXpress

Customers should first create a License eXpress account on the DOL website if they do not already have one. If a customer does not have a Washington ID card, they will need to pre-apply online through this service to get a driver license number.

The second step the customer should take is to obtain a driver training school knowledge test waiver or pass the knowledge test. In order to receive the knowledge test waiver, the customer should be enrolled in a driver training school program and provide the school with their driver license number. Customers who decide to complete the knowledge test can do so at a driver licensing office (where offered) or driver training school.

After completing steps 1 and 2, the customer can return to the License eXpress portal. They will notice a new link, “Get your instruction permit,” on their License eXpress account. This will allow them to get their permit online.

Customers under 18 years old will need a parent to attest to their identity. Once everything is filled out, the customer submits their electronic signature and payment and the transaction is completed.

Receiving Non-Photo Instruction Permits

Once the customer has completed everything online, they can print a temporary non-photo instruction permit and carry it with them. The permit will be issued the date of the completed transaction.

Customers should keep the temporary instruction permit with them until they receive their card in the mail. The card should arrive within seven to 10 days.

Getting a Driver License in the Future

When customers are ready to get their first-time driver license, they will still need to schedule an appointment at a driver licensing office. The non-photo permit will not be accepted as a proof-of-identity document because it does not have a photo.

Contact Us

If you need further assistance, call 360-902-3900. Please be patient, as call volume is high.

Spanish/español

Lee esto en español.


Instruction permits extended due to DOL office closures

June 9, 2020

Permitextension-tw (2)With the closure of state driver licensing offices and many wanting to continue their driver education during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Licensing (DOL) is automatically extending the expiration dates of valid Washington state instruction permits. This automatic extension applies to permits with expiration dates on or after March 1, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2020. This will allow permit holders to continue to practice driving without penalty or incurring any late fees.

  • Permits with an expiration date between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2020 will be extended for 180 days. This means these instruction permits will expire six months after the date printed on the permit.
  • Permits with an expiration date between July 1, 2020 and Sept. 30, 2020 will be extended for 90 days. This means these instruction permits will expire three months after the date printed on the permit.

New cards will not be issued. DOL recommends carrying this letter while operating a vehicle and presenting it with an expired permit if requested by law enforcement or others who need to verify identity.

Instruction Permit Online Renewal

In addition to extending instruction permits, individuals can renew a permit online for a limited time using the no-login option for driver license renewal. It can also be done via License eXpress.

DOL is unable to issue first-time instruction permits while the driver licensing offices remain closed. However, individuals can pre-apply online for an instruction permit.

Drivers or businesses that need to validate an expiration date for a permit holder can do so via DOL’s online services.

Getting a First-Time License

If a person has passed the knowledge and drive tests, there is a way for them to obtain a first-time driver license online. Using License eXpress, they will need to have a Washington photo instruction permit and complete all of the other online requirements.

If they do not have a Washington photo instruction permit, they will have to wait until the driver licensing offices reopen to get a photo taken and complete any other requirements. There will be more information about reopening plans soon.

Contact Us

If you need further assistance, call 360-902-3900. Please be patient, as call volume is high.

Spanish/español

Lee esto en español.


National Teen Driver Safety Week now underway

October 22, 2018

Click image for larger view of “the 6 rules.”

Each year, more than 100 young people die on Washington roadways. Teen Driver Safety Week, October 21 – 27, aims to help reduce those numbers while raising awareness about teen driving nationwide.

It’s a great opportunity for parents to focus on helping their teens learn how to become better drivers.

The Department of Licensing will be sharing helpful information about teen driver safety on its Twitter and Facebook pages throughout this week.

DOL’s social media will be sharing information about distracted driving, seat belt use, underage drinking, driving under the influence of marijuana, rules for the road, and more.

You can also learn more about teen driver safety on this fact sheet. The sheet includes steps parents can take to help teens become better drivers.

The state’s Target Zero campaign also has this helpful info graphic for parents, too.


New motorcycle awareness video shows why looking twice deserves “A Second Look”

December 2, 2014

It’s here!

After months of work, the Washington Motorcycle Safety Program is proud to roll-out its new driver training video focused on motorcycle awareness.

A Second Look is an 8-minute video produced with teen viewers in mind. It’s currently being distributed to every driver training school in Washington state, and is also available at dol.wa.gov.

A Second Look is an easily accessible tool for driving schools and instructors to use as they fulfill the state curriculum requirement regarding motorcycle awareness.

Paired with the video is a set of companion learning materials that can help facilitate even more active learning for their students.  These materials include essential “conversation generator” questions, brain-based learning classroom activities, an outline of key concepts, a fun quiz, and some resource information regarding motorcycle awareness.

A Second Look was produced in cooperation with Notion Pictures, using a federal grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

Filmed in and around Olympia, Washington, this video conveys basic technical information useful to new drivers. It also creates empathy for all road users.

The story in this video follows a young driver named Ian who learns how to safely drive around motorcycles.  Ian learns from a motorcyclist named Randy.

We felt it was essential to create an emotional hook, so that viewers would not only learn ways to drive more safely,  but (and perhaps more importantly) gain a clearer understanding about why they should drive more safely.

Because A Second Look was developed for young drivers in driver training, we chose to present a stereotyped version of a rider.  However, as the story unfolds, it reveals that people who are stereotyped are, in fact, real human beings.

Using that approach, our hope is that the learning will go deeper, and remain memorable for a lifetime of safe driving.

Producing a video with a teen audience in mind provided the opportunity to make some unexpected choices, such as NOT showing the actual crash at the end of the story.

In using that approach, we’ve left it up to the “mind’s eye” of each viewer to see the consequence of Ian’s mistake in a way that is most powerful and relevant to him or her.

Why did the crash happen?

What could the driver and rider have done differently?

Did Randy die?

All of those questions are left for the viewer to consider.

Driving instructors can then use these questions, in conjunction with the companion materials, to re-enforce the power of making safe, effective choices on the road.

Though created for driving students, this video reminds us all of the power in simply looking twice; doing so really can–and does–save lives.


DOL staff receive statewide traffic safety awards

September 30, 2010

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission has honored DOL staff members for going beyond their job duties and making outstanding contributions to traffic safety.

Tana Cochran, manager of the Driver Training School Program, won in the category of Young Drivers. She has made major improvements to the parents’ guidebook for teaching youth driving skills, coordinates a large yearly driver education training conferences for driver training instructors and has developed new ways to gather and analyze DOL data to help minimize teen driver collisions.

Bruce Chunn and Haiping Zhang’s Predictive Model Research Project won an award also in the category of Young Drivers. The project was created to research and create a predictive model for at-risk drivers. The project researched Washington driving records looking for a predictor of future collisions and correlation between traffic violations not including a collision, and the increasing probability of collisions. The project concluded that an individual who recently received their first traffic violation is twice as likely to have a collision, and 16 to 19 year-old drivers have approximately twice the risk of older drivers. As a result of the project’s conclusions, DOL has expanded the use of warning letters as an early intervention system for 18 to 19 year-old drivers who receive their first traffic violation.

Tony Sermonti and Mark Horner and their work with the statewide Text-Talk-Ticket campaign won in the category of Distracted Driving. Lead by DOL and the State Patrol, the campaign was a public awareness campaign preceding the new ‘primary offense’ cell phone law. The campaign designed and presented a new logo and slogan for distracted driving, Talk-Text-Ticket. The campaign included well-attended media events, a Seattle morning news show tour by DOL director Liz Luce, a video public service announcement, driver training school outreach and a tour of high schools and the Puyallup Fair with a vehicle involved in a fatal distracted driving collision. The kickoff message on April 30, 2010 reached more than 600,000 households, and the public service announcement received more than 500,000 unique visitors per month.