Getting a Washington driver’s license may be a lot easier than you think. If you need a Washington driver’s license, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of driver’s licenses that are offered in Washington and cover REAL ID topics. The driver’s license process will be handled at a Washington Department of Licensing (WA DOL) office. Let’s get started!
Types of Washington Driver’s Licenses
Multiple types of driver’s licenses are offered in Washington. Check out these driver’s licenses and see which one you may need or would be interested in obtaining.
Instruction Permit – This license allows Washington residents to operate a non-commercial motor vehicle within Washington state, given that they are being supervised by a licensed driver who has at least 5 years of licensed driving experience. Be advised that this permit may not be valid in some states. If you plan to take a trip that is outside of Washington, contact that state’s DMV to confirm their driver’s license requirements.
Intermediate Driver’s License – This type of driver’s license is issued to first-time applicants who are 16 or 17 years of age and the requirements.
Standard Washington Driver’s License – This license allows holders to operate a non-commercial motor vehicle on public roadways. It is valid for a maximum of 6 years from the date of your last birthday. Applicants who are ages 16 and 17 are given intermediate driver’s licenses while they work on completing the requirements for a standard Washington driver’s license.
Washington Enhanced Driver’s License – The Washington enhanced driver’s license (EDL) can be used as official identification for holders who are traveling within the U.S. The EDL can also be used to cross borders to Mexico and Canada by land or sea.
Motorcycle or Trike Instruction Permit – If you plan on operating a two-wheel or three-wheel vehicle on Washington State roads, you will need this license. This license allows you to operate a motorcycle or a three-wheeled motorcycle-based vehicle.
Washington Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL) – Having a CDL allows you to operate a commercial vehicle on public roadways. CDLs are classified into three sub-categories, Classes A, B, and C.
- Class A – This category of CDL allows the holder to operate a combination vehicle that has a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of at least 26,001 lbs., so long as the GVWR of the items/vehicle(s) in tow does not exceed 10,000 lbs.
- Class B – This type of CDL allows holders to operate any single vehicle that possesses a GVWR of at least 26,001 lbs., including vehicles that tow trailers that weigh no more than 10,000 lbs. Additionally, vehicles that are listed under Class C can be covered by a Class B license, given that it’s properly endorsed.
- Class C – This CDL allows holders to operate vehicles that can carry at least 16 people, including the driver. This type of CDL can also be used by drivers who are transporting hazardous materials that require a HAZMAT placard.
Washington Driver’s License Requirements
All Washington residents must have a Washington State driver’s license to operate a vehicle on the road.
Who Qualifies as a Washington Resident?
The following are the criteria to be deemed a Washington resident:
- You’re registered to vote in Washington
- You receive payments, financial aid, or other public welfare benefits from the state or local government
- You’re able to get any state license at the resident rate
- You pay in-state tuition fees as a student
- You intend to live in this state for more than 6 months in any one year
New residents of Washington who want to drive a vehicle in Washington State are expected to obtain a driver’s license within 30 days of establishing residency. New residents who have a valid out-of-state driver’s license are not required to take the knowledge and driving test when they apply for a new license. However, if you’re under the age of 18, you must show proof that you’ve completed a driver training course that meets Washington State standards before applying for a new license.
Visitors and Non-Residents
Non-residents or short-term visitors can operate a motor vehicle on Washington State’s roadways as long as they have a valid driver’s license from their home state, province, territory, or country. You must also be at least 16 years of age upon your visit. This exemption applies to the following:
- Armed Force members who are on active duty, members of the foreign military on temporary duty, as well as their dependents (children and spouses)
- Students who are in the state to further their education but are considered non-residents
- Visiting employees who are tasked to perform short-term responsibilities for their company or business
- Foreign tourists, business people, and teachers who are in the state for up to one year
Applying for Your Washington State Driver’s License
Applicants who are at least 18 years of age have different options when it comes to obtaining a Washington driver’s license. If you have not attained a permit, you can choose to do the following:
- Pass the knowledge and skills exam (without taking a driver training course)
- Pass the knowledge test, obtain your permit, practice driving with a licensed driver, and then pass the skills test
- Complete an approved driver training course, receive your permit, and then pass the skills test
After you decide which route you want to take to obtain your driver’s license, you may be eligible to begin your application for a driver’s license online. You will save time by completing the application online, but you will still be required to head to your driver’s licensing office to complete this process.
When you visit your local WA DOL branch, make sure you have the following:
- Proof of the following:
- U.S. citizenship (if you’re applying for an Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL)
- Washington residency
- Name change (if applicable)
- Payment for the following fee:
- Driver’s license: Valid for 8 years: $55 plus an additional $35 for the application fee
- Enhanced driver’s license (EDL): Valid for 8 years: $97 plus the $35 application fee
- Pass the written knowledge and driving test
- Pass the vision exam
Make sure you visit a WA DOL branch that administers written knowledge and driving tests. Be advised that only U.S. citizens are eligible for an EDL. After you complete the application and pass your driving test, the WA DOL will mail your standard Washington driver’s license or EDL within 10 days.
Acceptable Identification Documents in Washington State
Different types of documents are acceptable for proving your identity. You can use one of the following documents when you’re applying for your Washington driver’s license:
- Birth certificate
- Armed forced ID cards
- Certificate of Naturalization
- Permanent resident card
- Foreign passport with a valid I-94 (the expiration date must be more than 2 months from the date you visit the office)
Examples of true full-name verification documents can include any of the following:
- Marriage certificate
- Adoption documents that contain your legal name as a result of the adoption
- Certificate of registration document that verifies the formation of a domestic partnership
- Name change documents that contain your legal name before and after the name change
- A dissolution of marriage document that contains your legal name as a result of the court order
- Certificate of registration document that verifies the formation of a domestic partnership
Examples of acceptable residency documents can include any of the following:
- Insurance documents
- A record of financial institution (bank statement)
- Resident utility bills (this can include cell phone bills)
- Washington vehicle or vessel title or registration
When proving identity, a legal guardian, parent, or child can use a birth certificate. Spouses or domestic partners can use a marriage license or domestic partner registration certificate to trace their relationship to the person to whom the acceptable residency documentation was addressed.
Getting a Washington Driver’s License Under the Age of 18
If you’re a new resident of Washington State, you have 30 days after establishing residency to obtain a Washington driver’s license. If you have a valid out-of-state driver’s license (or a valid driver’s license from British Columbia, Germany, South Korea, Taiwan, or Japan), you are not required to pass the driving exams.
However, you are required to pass the vision screening. If you are a new resident from Taiwan or Japan, you must take additional steps before you can obtain a Washington driver’s license.
Once you submit the required documentation and pass the vision tests, you must also surrender your out-of-state driver’s license to the WA DOL. If you’re not a U.S. citizen, you can legally operate a motor vehicle in Washington with a valid foreign driver’s license for up to 1 year. After this time, you are required to apply for a Washington driver’s license. An enhanced driver’s license (EDL) is only offered to U.S. citizens. This license serves the same purpose as a standard driver’s license but offers more protection and security.
Applying for a Washington Driver’s License
New teenage residents of Washington must obtain their intermediate license within 30 days of establishing residency in the state. If you are under 18 years of age with a valid driver’s license, it will be transferred to an intermediate license, and you must adhere to all the associated driving restrictions.
To transfer your license, you must do the following:
- Visit your local WA DOL branch
- Submit your out-of-state driver’s license
- Provide another document that proves your identity
- Provide proof of Washington residency
- Provide proof of your Social Security Number (SSN)
- Pass the vision exam
- Pass the written knowledge exam and driving text (required if your previous license is expired)
- Pay the $35 application fee and the $55 license fee
If you have a learner’s permit from a different state, contact the WA DOL to determine whether your previous state’s requirements meet those for the state of Washington, and will allow you to transfer your permit for a WA instructional permit. You can call them at (360) 902-3900.
What is the Washington GDL Program?
The Graduated Driver’s Licensing (GDL) program in Washington was established to ensure that teenage drivers receive the training and education required to drive safely and responsibly. In Washington, this program consists of completing Driver’s Education (Driver’s Ed), obtaining an instruction permit, and receiving an intermediate driver’s license, before receiving an unrestricted Washington driver’s license.
Driver’s Ed in Washington
Driver’s Ed is required for teenagers to receive an instruction permit and a driver’s license in Washington. Teenagers can enroll in Driver’s Ed if they are at least 15 years of age. Any state-approved Driver’s Ed course in Washington must consist of the following:
- 30 hours of classroom instruction
- 6 hours of behind-the-wheel training (you must first have an instruction permit before you are allowed to begin this portion)
- 1 hour of behind-the-wheel observation
- 50 hours of practice driving outside of the classroom, with 10 of these hours being driven at night.
To receive your instruction permit at 15 years of age, you must be enrolled in Driver’s Ed. If you have not yet enrolled, you must wait until you are 15 ½ years old to receive your instruction permit.
Washington Teenager License Age Requirements
The following are the teenage license age requirements:
- Instruction Permit: 15 years old if enrolled in Driver’s Ed
- Instruction Permit: 15 ½ years of age without being enrolled in Driver’s Ed
- Intermediate Driver’s License: 16 years of age
- Unrestricted Driver’s License: 18 years of age
How to Obtain a Washington Instruction Permit
You can apply for a Washington instruction permit in Washington if you are:
- 15 years of age as long as you are enrolled in a Driver’s Ed program. Your written knowledge exam will be waived.
- 15 ½ years of age if you are NOT yet enrolled in a Driver’s Ed training program. You will be required to complete the written knowledge exam at a WA DOL location.
Be advised that you must complete Driver’s Ed before you can receive a Washington driver’s license, and you must have an instruction permit to complete the behind-the-wheel portion of your Driver’s Ed course.
If you choose to enroll in Driver’s Ed and receive your permit at 15 years of age, you must apply for your instruction permit within 10 days of enrollment.
You have the following options to apply for your Washington permit:
- Pre-apply for your Washington instruction permit online using the WA DOL’s online application portal. The DOL recommends this option, as it saves time when you visit a DOL branch to submit the rest of your paperwork.
- Complete and fill out the application at the driver’s license office.
When you’re ready, you’ll need to visit your local WA DOL branch and do the following:
- Present proof of identity (such as your U.S. passport, certified birth certificate, Certificate of Citizenship or Naturalization)
- Proof of enrollment in Driver’s Ed (if applicable). Some schools will electronically submit proof of enrollment to the DOL. If this is the case, you will not need to take a certificate of proof.
- Submit a Parental Authorization Affidavit (Form DLE-520-003) along with your parent’s proof of identity
- Pass the vision test
- Pass the written knowledge exam (if you are not currently enrolled in Driver’s Ed). You will be asked to schedule a separate appointment for your knowledge exam. The DOL must first receive your permit application before allowing you to complete the test.
- Have your picture taken
- Pay the $25 application fee (cash, check, money order, MasterCard/AMEX, and some VISA debit cards are acceptable)
Your instruction permit will be valid for 1 year, and you can renew it once if needed. At this time, you must complete an additional 50 hours of behind-the-wheel practice with your parent or guardian. 10 of the 50 hours must be driven during nighttime hours.
You must attain your WA permit for at least 6 months and be at least 16 years of age before you can apply for your intermediate driver’s license.
Washington Instruction Permit Driving Restrictions
With your WA instruction permit, you are only allowed to operate a motor vehicle:
- When accompanied by a licensed driver who has been licensed for at least 5 years
- While you have your instruction permit with you
How to Get a Washington State Intermediate Driver’s License
Once you’ve turned 16 years of age, you are eligible to apply for your intermediate driver’s license. You can complete this task online or in person. Make sure you have:
- Held your instruction permit for at least 6 months
- Completed 50 hours of behind-the-wheel practice
- Driven at least 10 hours at night
You may NOT operate a motor vehicle if:
- You have had any traffic violations within the last 6 months before applying for your intermediate license
- Have been convicted of any drug or alcohol-related violations while driving with a permit
When you’re ready, you can make an appointment to take your road test at any driving test location. You must pass your road test before you can apply for your Washington State intermediate driver’s license.
When you apply for an intermediate license online, your parent or legal guardian must be present. They must answer questions verifying that you have completed your mandatory behind-the-wheel practice time.
You will also need the following:
- Your instruction permit
- The last 4 digits of your Social Security Number
- A VISA, MasterCard, or American Express credit/debit card
- A printer and/or e-mail address
When you and your parent or legal guardian are ready, you’ll need to log into the DOL’s online licensing service and start the process. Make sure you print and keep the receipt for your license when you’re finished. This receipt will be your temporary license until your permanent license arrives.
Your permanent intermediate license will be mailed to you within 10 days and will feature the same photo that is currently on your instruction permit. If you don’t receive your intermediate license within 30 days, visit your local WA DOL branch.
Applying in Person
You can also apply for your license in person at your local WA DOL branch. To do so, visit your local WA DOL branch and do the following:
- Provide your instruction permit (this can also function as proof of your identity)
- Provide your Social Security Number
- Present a signed certificate of completion for a Driver’s Ed course (Keep in mind that some schools submit an electronic notice of completion to the DOL. If this is the case, you will not be required to submit a paper copy.)
- Submit a signed Parental Authorization Affidavit (Form DEL-520-003). Your parent or guardian must sign this form in the office with you, or have it signed and notarized if they are not able to accompany you.
- Pass the vision test (this test may not be required if you passed one for your instruction permit)
- Pay the $35 application fee and the $55 licensing fee (cash, check, money order, MasterCard, AMEX, and some types of VISA debit cards are accepted)
You will receive a temporary license before you leave the DOL branch. Your permanent intermediate driver’s license will be mailed to you within 10 days. If you haven’t received it after 30 days, visit your local WA DOL branch.
Washington Intermediate License Driving Restrictions
While you have your intermediate license, you must adhere to the following rules at all times:
- You may NOT drive while using a wireless device in any capacity unless you need to report an emergency. This includes talking on cell phones, texting, and emailing.
- For the first 6 months, you may NOT carry any passengers who are under 20 years of age who are NOT members of your immediate family.
- For the second 6 months, you may ONLY carry up to 3 passengers who are under the age of 20 who aren’t immediate family members.
- For the first 12 months, you may NOT drive between 1 AM and 5 AM unless a licensed driver who is at least 25 years of age accompanies you. The only exception is if you are traveling for agricultural purposes with farm supplies or products.
Once you turn 18 years of age, all restrictions are removed from your license. You are not required to obtain a new license. Your intermediate license will automatically be considered a full unrestricted driver’s license.
The Washington Written Exam and Road Test
You may be required to pass the Washington written exam and road test. Here’s what you need to know about these tests.
Taking the Written Exam and Road Test
To obtain a passing grade on the written exam, you must answer 20 of the 25 questions correctly. During the Washing road test, you will judged on your ability to safely maneuver the vehicle while adhering to traffic laws and road signs.
You must provide a vehicle to complete the road test. There are state requirements the vehicle must meet to be eligible to be used for testing. If your vehicle doesn’t meet the required standards, you won’t be able to complete the road test.
The vehicle check is part of the pre-test. During the pre-test, you will have to provide specific documents, including the car’s current registration card and valid auto insurance policy. Your vehicle must be in proper working order. If not, you will fail the road test before you have a chance to begin.
The following are other vehicle requirements your car must meet to be eligible to complete the Washington road test:
- The windshield must allow for an unobstructed view
- You must have at least half a tank of gas
- Your tires must be correctly inflated
- Your car doors must properly open and close from both the interior and exterior of the car
- Your turn signals, brake lights, taillights, and headlights must be in working order
- Your car horn and rear-view mirror must be working
Special Driver’s Licenses in Washington
Depending on the type of vehicle you want to drive, you may be required to apply for a specific license class or endorsement. Some special driver’s licenses fall under the commercial driver’s license (CDL) category because of the vehicle’s weight or the number of passengers the vehicle can carry, such as a school bus.
Washington Special Commercial Driver’s Licenses
You will need a Washington CDL if you want to do any of the following:
- Operate heavy vehicles
- Transport a lot of people
- Carry hazardous materials
School Bus Requirements
To operate a school bus in Washington, you must:
- Have at least 5 years of experience driving a passenger vehicle
- Complete a bus driver training course
- Pass the criminal background check
- Attain a valid first-aid card
- Have a valid medical examination certificate
- Remain current with all continuing school bus driver requirements as defined in the Washington Administrative Code
Shuttle Van Requirements
You are not required to have a CDL to operate a shuttle van that carries fewer than 16 passengers, including the driver.
Chauffeur and Taxi Driver’s License Requirements
Specific rules and regulations are governed by each municipality in Washington. You may be required to do any or all of the following:
- Pass a medical certification
- Have a clean driving record
- Pass a background check
- Pay a special licensing fee
Washington Chauffeur’s License Requirements
To obtain a Washington chauffeur’s license, you must meet the following criteria:
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Have a valid Washington driver’s license
- Have completed a training course that is approved by the DOL
- Have passed a written exam
- Pass a criminal background check conducted by the Washington State Patrol
- Have a medical certificate verifying that you’re physically approved to be a chauffeur
Chauffeuring in SUVs
The WA DOL defines an SUV as a vehicle that seats 3 to 6 passengers behind the driver and possesses a minimum wheelbase of 112 inches. If you’re going to drive an SUV as a professional chauffeur, you will only need a valid Washington driver’s license and meet the above-stated criteria for becoming a chauffeur.
Washington Sport Vehicles
Many sports vehicles do not require a special license to operate them. However, some sports vehicles require you to be a specific age or pass a safety class. The operation of some sports vehicles may require you to obtain a motorcycle license or endorsement.
You are not required to have a special license to operate an ATV in Washington. If you’re younger than 16 years of age, you are required to stay on roads that are designated off-highway and be with someone who is at least 18 years of age and has a valid driver’s license.
You are not required to have a special license to operate a snowmobile. However, if you’re younger than 12 years old, you can’t ride a snowmobile on public roads. If you’re between 12 and 16 years of age, you are required to complete a snowmobile safety class, such as the class offered by the Washington State Snowmobile Association, before you will be eligible to ride on public roads.
Married, Divorced, or Name Change?
If you have changed your name and the name that is on your ID card or driver’s license is different from the documents you have submitted, or vice versa, you will be required to submit valid name change documentation to be issued a new Washington driver’s license or ID card. If you are applying for a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID, you are required to submit name change documents, such as a marriage license to receive this type of ID or driver’s license.
The following are examples you can use that establish your true full name:
- A marriage certificate
- Adoption documents that contain the legal names as a result of the adoption
- A certification, declaration, or registration document that verifies the formation of a domestic partnership
- A name change document that contains the legal name before and after the name change
- A dissolution of marriage or domestic partnership document that contains the legal name as a result of the court action
Does the REAL ID Act Impact Residents of Washington?
The state of Washington complies with the REAL ID Act. Here’s what you need to know. The REAL ID Act establishes the minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards. Starting May 7, 2025, anyone who is traveling by airplane or visiting certain federal facilities must use a REAL ID-compliant document.
You may already have what you need if you have any of the following:
- Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL)
- Enhanced Identification Card (EID)
- U.S. Military ID
- U.S. Passport
- U.S. Passport Card
- Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)
- Federally recognized tribal-issued photo ID
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
- Foreign Passport
Standard Driver’s Licenses and ID Cards
Washington State will continue to offer standard driver’s licenses and ID cards that can be used by Washington residents to operate a motor vehicle or as identification. Standard IDs and driver’s licenses will not indicate a person’s residency or legal status, and starting May 7, 2025, they will NO LONGER be accepted as valid forms of ID for boarding domestic flights.
Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (EDL) and Enhanced Identification (EID)
An EDL or an EID is a form of identification that has enhanced security features that show proof of identity and proof of citizenship. An EDL or EID meets the federal requirements under the REAL ID Act and is an approved alternative to a passport or passport card for re-entry into the U.S. at land and sea borders between the United States, Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean.
Who Is Eligible to Receive an EDL or EID?
You must be a U.S. citizen and provide the following information:
- Your Social Security Number (SSN)
- Proof of citizenship
- Proof of identity
- Proof of Washington State residency
Am I Required to Get an EDL, EID, or REAL ID?
Obtaining an EDL, EID, or REAL ID is NOT mandatory. If you don’t plan on flying domestically or already have acceptable identification documents, you may not be required to have an EDL or EID. The Washington State standard license will continue to allow you to operate a motor vehicle and the Washington State standard ID will remain a valid form of identification within the state.
You are NOT required to have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID card to perform any of the following actions:
- Operate a motor vehicle
- Enter a federal facility that does NOT require ID (such as a post office)
- Visit a hospital or receive life-saving services
- Apply for or receive federal benefits (such as Social Security Administration (SSA), Veterans Affairs, etc.)
How Do You Apply for a Washington REAL ID Card?
If you’re going to apply for a Washington REAL ID, there are specific steps you must take and different documents you are required to submit. The following are the documents you must provide to obtain a Washington REAL ID:
- Provide proof of identity (such as your birth certificate or passport)
- Provide 2 documents that prove your Washington State residency
- Present proof of your Social Security Number (SSN)
Applying for a Commercial Driver’s License in Washington
If you’ve ever considered operating a semi-truck for a living or other commercial vehicles across the country or throughout the state of Washington, that’s a great idea and an excellent way to earn a living. You’ll need to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to have a career operating commercial vehicles of this type. Here’s what you need to do.
Federal Training Requirements Update
Per the new federal entry-level driver training requirements that are effective as of February 7, 2022, the WA DOL mandates new CDL applicants complete an entry-level driver training course through an authorized provider. You must have this driver training course to apply for your initial CDL, upgrade your existing CDL class, or apply for a HAZMAT, school bus, or passenger endorsement.
CDL Eligibility Requirements in Washington
To be eligible to obtain a CDL in Washington, you need to do the following:
- Have a valid, non-commercial Washington driver’s license
- Be at least:
- 18 years of age to drive within WA ONLY (intrastate driving)
- 21 years of age to drive cross-country (interstate driving)
- Complete an appropriate commercial driver training course for your class of license
You also need to be able to prove the following:
- Social Security Number (SSN)
- U.S. citizenship or permanent residency. Examples of acceptable documentation can include the following:
- Your valid birth certificate
- An unexpired U.S. passport
- A permanent resident card
Washington Commercial License Permit
Before you can receive your CDL, you must first get your Washington commercial license permit (CLP). When you’re ready to get started, you must schedule an appointment at a WA DOL branch that offers knowledge testing. Call the location to confirm they offer knowledge testing.
To apply, you must submit the following information and fees:
- Your WA driver’s license
- Proof of citizenship or lawful U.S. status
- Applicable medical and self-certification documents
- Payment for the applicable fees:
- CLP fee: $40
- Knowledge test fee: $35
- Endorsement fees, if applicable
Next, you’ll take the written knowledge exams that are associated with the CDL classification for which you are applying, plus any endorsements you want to add to your CDL.
After you’ve completed the above steps, you will officially have your CLP. Congratulations! Your CLP will be valid for 180 days. You can renew this permit once.
CLP Restrictions in Washington
Once you have your CLP, you’ll have to follow a set of rules while you practice. You must practice with your CLP for at least 14 days before you will be eligible to complete the skills test to earn your full CDL. If you’re not ready to complete the skills test yet. It’s okay! Your permit is valid for 180 days, and you can renew it once.
Per Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations, you must also do the following:
- Stick to public roads ONLY
- Only drive while you’re accompanied by a licensed commercial driver
Commercial Driver Training Requirements
The WA DOL requires all CDL applicants to take a training course before they can earn their initial CDL. The amount of training hours you’ll need depends on the class of CDL for which you’re applying. After you complete the course, you’ll receive a training certificate. You must bring this certificate with you when you apply for your CDL.
How to Obtain a CDL in Washington State
Next, you’ll need to pass your skills exam. To schedule your test, you must get a skills test form from your local WA DOL branch. Once you fill it out, the DOL will assign a tester and an exam date. You will pay for your exam fee at this time.
Keep in mind that you must arrange to take the test in the same class of vehicle you want to operate with your CDL. At your appointment, you must submit the following:
- Washington driver’s license
- Commercial license permit
- CDL skills test result form
- Medical Examiner’s Certificate, if applicable
- Commercial driver training course certificate
- Documents for your testing vehicle, either:
- Proof of insurance
- A permission letter from the vehicle’s owner
- Payment for the $250 testing fee
- School bus exams are $100
The skills test exam consists of the following parts:
- Pre-trip inspection
- Basic controls test
- On-road test
Once you pass the test, you must visit the DOL branch and bring the following:
- Proof of U.S. citizenship/lawful permanent residency
- Commercial license permit
- Signed CDL skills test result form
- Medical Examiner’s Certificate, if applicable
- Commercial driver training certificate
At this time, you will be issued your Washington CDL. Congratulations! You can also opt to take the skills exam with a third-party testing company. You will pay your exam fee to your chosen tester.
What Happens If I Fail My CDL Exam?
If you don’t pass your Washington commercial driving skills exam on the first try, it’s okay! You can take the skills exam 2 times with the same tester. You will have to wait before you can re-test. However, depending on which section you failed, the waiting days vary, and they are as follows:
- 3 days – if you failed the pre-trip inspection
- 3 days – if you failed the basic controls test
- 7 days – if you failed the on-road test
Washington CDL Fees
The WA DOL currently charges the following for CDLs and related services:
- Commercial driver’s license tests:
- Knowledge test: $35
- Skills test: $250
- Skills test for school buses: $100
- Reduced skills test: $225
- Commercial license permit: $40
- Endorsements: $20, plus $17 for each year remaining on your license
Washington CDL Medical Requirements
To receive a CDL from Washington, you must first be deemed physically fit for the job. The first step toward medical qualification is the self-certification process. With the self-certification process, you complete this step at a WA DOL branch before you receive your CDL. This permit requires you to state whether you will be driving interstate or intrastate, and if you are excepted or non-excepted from carrying a medical form. Depending on your self-certification choices, this will determine your next steps.
You are required to visit an FMCSA-approved physician to help you complete a Medical Examiner’s Certificate (Form MCSA-5876). If you need a certificate, you must take it with you when you complete your skills test and return to the DOL to receive your CDL.
Military CDL Testing Waivers
The FMCSA and Washington DOL teamed up to help military members with commercial driving experience earn their CDL more easily by waiving the skills test. To qualify, you must be a currently active duty member or have been honorably discharged within the past 12 months, and have at least 2 years of experience operating military commercial vehicles.
To apply for a military CDL testing waiver in Washington, you will need the following:
- A completed:
- Application for Military Skills Test Waiver (Form CDL-SK TST WVR)
- Medical Examiner’s Certificate (Form MCSA-5876)
- Medical Examination Report for Commercial Driver Fitness Determination (Form 649-F)
- Proof of your U.S. citizenship/legal permanent residency
- Your current military identification or your discharge papers
Bring the above documentation with you when you apply for your CLP and ask about the next steps in this process. Eligible applicants are still required to pass all written exams and pay all applicable fees.
Applying for a Washington Motorcycle License
Washington State is known for its natural beauty and scenic views, as well as the fresh air provided by blankets of evergreens. If you’re ready to enjoy the open road on your motorcycle, you’ll need to have a motorcycle license.
New Residents of Washington
The Evergreen State welcomes you! You have 30 days after establishing residency in Washington to transfer your out-of-state license and your motorcycle endorsement.
To switch your motorcycle license to Washington, you need to visit your local WA DOL branch and do the following:
- Follow the same steps to transfer your out-of-state driver’s license
- Provide proof of your out-of-state motorcycle license/endorsement (if different than your standard license)
- Pay the $55 fee for a standard Washington license or $97 for an Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL)
You may also be asked to provide an additional motorcycle endorsement fee. Ask the WA DOL employees for more information about all applicable fees.
Washington Motorcycle Endorsement Eligibility
To qualify for a Washington State motorcycle endorsement, you must do the following:
- Be at least 16 years old
- Applicants under 18 years of age must also:
- Pass a motorcycle education course
- Have permission from your parent or guardian to apply
- Applicants under 18 years of age must also:
- Have a WA driver’s license
- Pass the motorcycle knowledge and skills tests:
- Through a motorcycle training school
- As part of an approved motorcycle safety course
- Pay the appropriate motorcycle endorsement fees
- Endorsement fees start at $30
How to Get a Washington Motorcycle Instruction Permit
While motorcycle permits are optional in Washington State, they are a great way for you to practice your biking skills. To obtain your motorcycle instruction permit, you must visit a motorcycle training school and complete the motorcycle knowledge test.
Once you pass your knowledge exam, you will be given a pink score sheet. You must take this score sheet to your local DOL branch to turn it into a motorcycle permit. You must also bring your Washington State driver’s license and $35 for the motorcycle permit fee.
Washington Permit Limitations
Washington permits come with specific rules you must follow. As a Washington motorcycle permit holder, you are NOT allowed to carry passengers or ride after dark. Your permit will be valid for 180 days. If you are not ready to complete your skills test and earn your endorsement at this time, it’s okay. You can renew your permit for an additional 180 days by visiting a DOL branch and paying the $35 permit renewal fee.
If you need another permit after this renewal, you’ll need to enroll in a motorcycle safety course first. You can then apply for another permit by revisiting the WA DOL branch with proof of your enrollment in the safety course and paying another renewal fee.
How to Get Your Washington Motorcycle License
You can pass the motorcycle knowledge and skills tests at a motorcycle training school to earn your Washington motorcycle license. Once you pass the exam, you need to take your green score sheet to your local WA DOL branch to complete your application within 180 days.
You can also complete a motorcycle safety course. Once you have completed this course, you need to take your completion card to your local DOL branch within 180 days.
At your local WA DOL branch, you need to submit the following:
- Either your green score sheet or course completion card
- Your Washington driver’s license
- Your motorcycle permit, if applicable
- Payment for your motorcycle endorsement fee (fees start at $30)
When you’re riding your motorcycle, you must carry proof of insurance. Make sure you have insurance before enjoying the open road!
Washington Motorcycle Safety Courses
An approved motorcycle safety course offers you hands-on motorcycle training, as well as allows you to take your knowledge and skills tests. By passing a state-approved safety course, you will be able to report directly to the WA DOL to receive your official motorcycle endorsement.
Motorcycle safety courses cost the following:
- $125 for WA residents who are at least 18 years of age (This is the subsidized price. Courses may offer different non-subsidized pricing.)
- $50 for residents who are under 18 years of age
You must bring the following:
- Proper eye gear
- A DOT-approved helmet
- A signed parent or guardian permission form (if you’re under 18 years of age)
Once you pass the program, you’ll be issued a course completion certificate. Don’t lose this certificate! You must have this form to receive your motorcycle endorsement. You can view a complete list of motorcycle safety courses in Washington provided by the WA DOL.
Make sure you ask specifically about the motorcycle safety program. This safety program is different than the state-approved motorcycle training schools.
Washington Motorcycle License Fees
The WA DOL and other agencies charge the following for motorcycle endorsements and related services:
- Motorcycle learner’s permit: $35
- Renewal: $35
- Motorcycle safety courses:
- Residents who are at least 18 years of age: $125 (this is the subsidized price. Courses may offer different non-subsidized pricing.)
- Residents who are under 18 years of age: $50
- Motorcycle endorsement: $30 to $40
Washington DOL Locations
In Washington, there are different DOL locations. We’ll list a handful of these locations to help you get started in the right direction.
WA DOL – Seattle Branch
450 3rd Ave.
Seattle, WA 98119
Monday – Friday (8:30 AM – 4:30 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)
WA DOL – Spokane Branch
628 S. Washington
Spokane, WA 99204
Monday – Friday (10 AM – 5:30 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)
WA DOL – Tacoma Branch (By appointment ONLY)
6010 Main St. SW.
Ste. 100/ Ste. C
Tacoma, WA 98408
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday (8:30 AM – 5 PM)
Thursday (9:30 AM – 5 PM)
Saturday (8:30 AM – 2:30 PM)
Sunday and Monday (Closed)
WA DOL – Vancouver Branch
1301 NE. 136th Ave.
Vancouver, WA 98684
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday (9 AM – 5 PM)
Thursday (10 AM – 5 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)