A Washington state vehicle registration links all Evergreen State residents with the vehicle they own or lease, such as cars, trucks, motorcycles, and boats.

Registering a Vehicle in Washington

The Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) requires all residents to title and register their vehicles in order to get Washington state license plates and legally operate on the state’s roads and highways.

Titling a vehicle and registering is the same process in Washington, so both will be completed at the same time.

New to Washington State?

New residents of Washington have 30 days to register and title their vehicle when they move to Washington. Residents can send in their paperwork by mail or visit their local licensing office in person to complete the forms to get their license plates.

Registering by Mail

WA residents can mail their registration application to any licensing office. To register by mail, submit:

  • A completed, signed, and notarized Vehicle Certificate of Ownership (Title) Application (Form TD-420-001).
  • The out-of-state vehicle title.

If a lienholder has the title, get a copy of the front and back of it from the lienholder to use in the application. Residents of Washington who do not have a title or a copy of it can contact their local licensing office for instructions.

  • An odometer disclosure statement for vehicles up to 10 years old. You may obtain one by:
    • Visiting a licensing office.
    • Calling (360) 902-3900.

The odometer disclosure statement is printed on special paper, so it cannot be downloaded, faxed, or emailed.

  • A bill of sale or dealer purchase agreement, if you have owned the vehicle for less than 90 days.
  • Payment for all registration fees (see “Vehicle Registration Fees” below).

Send everything listed above to the local licensing office, or to:

Refunds and Title Services
Department of Licensing
PO Box 9043
Olympia, WA 98507

Individuals should receive both their vehicle title and registration within 10 weeks. When registering a motor home, RV, or trailer, individuals may also be asked to show proof they have paid their sales tax.

Washington residents can contact their local licensing office for instructions on how to title and register their vehicle in Washington if any of the listed owners need to be removed from the title.

Registering in Person

Individuals have two options for in-person registration:

Residents can visit a vehicle licensing office to apply, in which case the title will be mailed to WA residents within 10 weeks, but residents of this state will receive their registration immediately.

WA residents can visit a Quick Title office to get their registration and title immediately, for which they will pay an additional $50 fee.

Visit a local licensing office and submit:

  • A signed Vehicle Certificate of Ownership (Title) Application (Form TD-420-001). All owners must sign in order for the signatures to be verified by a licensing agent.
  • The out-of-state vehicle title.

If a lienholder currently has the title, have them send you a copy of the front and back of it.

If you do not have a title or a copy of it, contact your local licensing office.

  • The odometer disclosure statement for vehicles up to 10 years old.
  • A bill of sale or dealer purchase agreement, if you have owned the vehicle for less than 90 days.
  • Payment for all registration fees (see Vehicle Registration Fees below).

Washington State Car Insurance

Washington residents are not required to show their insurance card when they register their vehicle, but auto insurance is mandatory in Washington. Individuals who are pulled over by the police and do not have insurance will be fined.

How to Register a Car in Washington State

Depending on whether individuals have bought their vehicle from a dealership or a private party determines what they have to do to register and title their vehicle. Residents of Washington must title and register their vehicle within 15 days of taking ownership.

Residents who do not title and register their vehicle within 15 days will be charged $50 on the 16th day and $2 every day after, with the maximum penalty totaling $125.

Buying a Vehicle from a Dealership

When residents buy a vehicle from a dealership in Washington State, the dealership will handle all the paperwork. Residents will receive their documents and license plates in the mail.

Buying or Obtaining a Vehicle from a Private Party

Washington residents who purchased or have been gifted a vehicle by a private individual may title and register it in person or by mail. Make sure the previous owner removes the license plates and either transfers or surrenders the plates.

NOTE: If the vehicle has been gifted to a resident, they may be eligible for an exemption from the state’s use tax. Please see Washington “Vehicle Registration Fees” below for details.

In-Person

Go to the local licensing office or Quick Title office and submit:

  • A Vehicle Certificate of Ownership (Title) Application (Form TD-420-001).
  • The vehicle title signed by both the seller and buyer(s).
  • If the seller does not have the title, they must fill out an Affidavit of Loss/Release of Interest (Form TD-420-040). All parties must sign it in front of a notary, county auditor, or licensing agent.
  • A Vehicle/Vessel Bill of Sale (Form TD-420-065) filled out by both the seller and buyer.
  • An odometer disclosure statement for vehicles up to 10 years old. You can obtain one by:
  • Visiting a licensing office.
  • E-mailing a request to [email protected]
  • Calling (360) 902-3900.
  • Payment for all fees (please see Washington Vehicle Registration Fees below).

Washington residents who visited a licensing office can get their registration and new plates before leaving, and they can expect their title to be mailed to them within 10 weeks. Individuals who visit a Quick Title office can receive both their registration and title immediately for a $50 fee.

By Mail

Residents who are applying by mail, all signatures on the documents above must be notarized.

Residents of Washington state can send all the documents listed above to:

Refunds and Title Services
Department of Licensing
PO Box 9043
Olympia, WA 98507

The title and vehicle registration will be mailed to residents within 10 weeks. The new plates may take up to 3 weeks to be mailed.

WA residents can receive an odometer disclosure statement:

  • At a licensing office.
  • By e-mailing a request to [email protected]
  • By calling (360) 902-3900.

The odometer disclosure statement is printed on special paper, so it cannot be downloaded, faxed, or e-mailed.

Vehicle Registration Fees

Registration fees in Washington are calculated based on vehicle weight, vehicle type, license plates, and home address. Additionally, residents will be responsible for paying a use tax when sales tax has not been paid.

Vehicle Registration Fees

The vehicle registration fees in Washington are as follows:

  • Service fee for title: $15
  • Service fee for registration: $8.
  • Local transportation benefit district fees: varies by county (if required).
  • Regional transit authority excise tax, if applicable.
  • King County congestion reduction charge: $20.
  • License plate fee: $20.

Inspection fees:

  • WA State Patrol inspection for salvaged, rebuilt, or homemade vehicles: Inspection is $65. Inspection with VIN assignment may include additional fees.

Use Tax

Residents who have not paid sales tax on their vehicle will be required to pay a use tax upon its registration, which is required by law when individuals purchase or transfer a vehicle from a private party. Washington residents must also pay use tax if they’re bringing a vehicle into the state from an area that does not charge sales or use tax.

The use tax will be charged at the same rate as sales tax for the resident’s area, plus an additional 0.3% motor vehicle sales/use tax.

Residents of Washington do not have to pay the use tax if:

  • The vehicle was gifted to you and:
  • They can prove that the previous owner paid sales tax on the vehicle.

OR

  • The previous owner had the vehicle for at least 7 years, and is from a state that charges sales tax.
  • They buy a vehicle while on military active duty (see below).

Replacing a Lost Vehicle Registration

WA residents who lose their registration, or it has been stolen, can consider reporting it to the police to safeguard themselves against identity theft. Residents can apply for a duplicate WA registration in person or by mail.

In-Person

Washington residents can go to their local driver licensing office and submit a signed and notarized Affidavit of Loss/Release of Interest (Form TD-420-040) with the “Affidavit of Loss” portion completed. Individuals will also need to pay a duplicate registration fee.

By Mail

Residents of Washington can also apply for a replacement registration by mail. To apply for a duplicate registration by mail:

  • Complete and sign the Affidavit of Loss/Release of Interest (Form TD-420-040) Make sure to complete the Affidavit of Loss section.
  • Have the form notarized.
  • Enclose payment for the fee.
  • Mail the form to your local driver licensing office.

Motorcycle Registration in Washington

All Washington residents must register their motorcycle with the Department of Licensing (DOL). Use this guide to learn more about motorcycle registration for new WA residents or current residents who recently bought a bike.

New to Washington

After moving to Washington, individuals have 30 days to register their motorcycle with the DOL. Residents of WA can apply for motorcycle registration by submitting the following items in person or by mail to your local vehicle licensing office:

  • A completed Vehicle Certificate of Ownership Title Application Form (Form TD-420-001).
  • The application must be signed in front of a notary public or DOL vehicle licensing agent.
  • If the motorcycle is less than 10 years old, a completed odometer disclosure statement.
    • Individuals can only obtain this form at a DOL office or by requesting a copy via phone or e-mail from the WA Department of Licensing.
  • The current out-of-state title.
  • If there’s a lien on the motorcycle, have the lending company fax a copy of the title to the DOL vehicle licensing agency where individuals are registering their bike.
  • The bill of sale.
    • Only needed if the motorcycle was registered in another state and if it’s been under 90 days since it was purchased.
  • Payment for all applicable motorcycle registration taxes and fees.

Once your registration application has been accepted, residents should receive their license plates and registration in about 3 weeks.

Washington State Motorcycle Registration

The process for motorcycle registration varies slightly depending on whether individuals purchased the motorcycle from a dealership or a private party.

Below are the steps WA residents need to take for either instance when registering their bike with the Washington Department of Licensing.

Dealership Purchases

When residents purchase a new or used motorcycle from a Washington dealership, the dealer will handle the registration paperwork.

WA residents need to inquire with the dealership before they leave to ensure no further steps will be required. The dealer may also issue temporary registration while they wait for their official license plates and motorcycle registration to arrive in the mail.

Below, we have a breakdown of the motorcycle registration fees and taxes residents of Washington could pay, typically included in the bike’s purchase price.

Private Party Purchases

After buying a new or used motorcycle from a private seller in Washington, residents of this state have 15 days from the purchase date to title and register it with the DOL.

To register a motorcycle, submit the items below in person or by mail to the local DOL vehicle licensing office:

  • A completed Vehicle Title Application (Form TD-420-001).
    • Must be signed in front of a WA DOL vehicle licensing agent or a notary public.
  • The motorcycle’s signed-over title.
  • A Vehicle/Vessel Bill of Sale (Form TD-420-065) completed by the buyer and seller.
  • If the motorcycle is less than 10 years old, an odometer disclosure statement.
    • This form can be requested in person at a DOL licensing office or via e-mail or phone.
  • The necessary motorcycle registration taxes and fees.

Washington does not require motorcycle insurance to register or operate your motorcycle; however, neighboring states and countries do, so it’s a good idea to insure the bike if individuals drive outside the state and, of course, to protect themselves when they’re in the state.

Residents can find information and quotes in our motorcycle insurance guide.

Washington State Motorcycle Registration Fees & Taxes

Original motorcycle registration fees will vary according to:

The motorcycle’s:

  • Model.
  • Year.
  • Weight.
  • The resident’s county of residence.

The WA Department of Licensing’s basic motorcycle registration fees may include the following:

  • License tab: $30.
  • Service fee: $8.
  • Motorcycle license plate:
  • Original: $4.
  • Replacement: $19.25.
  • Application fee: $15.

Filing fee:

  • For registration: $4.50.
  • For title with registration: $10.
  • Plate transfer fee: $10.
  • Replacement registration card fee: $1.25 (plus filing and service fees).
  • Sales/use tax: Based on the Washington county of residence.

Boat Registration in Washington

All vessel registrations and titles in Washington are processed through the Department of Licensing (DOL).  Continue reading for all the information residents of this state need about titling and registering watercraft and to learn about the state’s boater requirements.

Boat Title & Registration Requirements

In Washington, residents of this state must title and register all motor and/or sail-powered vessels.

A few examples of common vessels that do not require title/registration include:

  • Boats powered only by paddles or oars, like:
  • Canoes.
  • Kayaks.
  • Rowboats.
  • Vessels owned by a U.S. government agency.
  • Properly documented watercraft used primarily for commerce.
  • Motorboats under 16 ft. long with no more than 10 HP AND not used on federal waters.
  • Any boat registered in another state OR country and not kept in Washington for more than 60 days.
  • Military vessels.
  • Boats that are for sale and held by a licensed dealer.
  • Vessels used exclusively for commercial fishing.

Residents who are still not sure whether they’ll need to title and register their vessel can call the Washington Department of Licensing at (360) 902-3900 for clarification.

Title & Register Your Vessel in Washington

In Washington, residents are required to title and register their vessel:

  • Within 15 days of buying it if you purchased the boat in Washington.
  • Within 15 days of purchasing it if individuals are a current WA resident and bought the vessel out-of-state.
  • Within 60 days of moving to Washington if individuals are a new WA resident, needing to transfer their current out-of-state vessel title/registration.

To title and register a boat with the WA Department of Licensing, collect the following items:

  • A completed Vessel Title Application (Form TD-420-289).
    • If residents bought their boat from a dealer, the dealer will fill out the form.

Proof of ownership:

  • New boats: Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin.
  • Used boats from Washington: Certificate of title assigned in the resident’s name.
  • Boats from out-of-state: Out-of-state title AND registration in the resident’s name.

For individuals who are moving from a state that doesn’t title vessels, the properly assigned boat registration will suffice.

  • Proof of paid sales tax—if individuals didn’t pay sales tax, they’ll need to provide payment for use tax.
  • Payment for all applicable WA boat title and registration fees.

Submit the application for a boat title and registration in person or by mail to any Department of Licensing office. Washington vessel registrations are renewed annually and expire on June 30.

Carbon Monoxide Sticker

All new or used motorized vessels, except Jet Ski style personal watercraft, are required by law to have a carbon monoxide warning sticker. This sticker must be visible to passengers.  Individuals should receive this sticker when purchasing a new vessel, or when they register or renew their registration.

Residents who do not receive this sticker when they register or renew their registration, or one was not included when they purchased a new vessel must call (360) 902-3812.

For more information on carbon monoxide warning stickers, residents can check out the WA state’s Boating and the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide.

Washington Boat Title & Registration Fees

The costs of titling and registering a boat with the WA Department of Licensing are extensive—the list below will give an idea of what fees individuals might expect to pay. To make things easier, consider using the DOL’s fee calculator.

Original/renewal vessel registration: $10.50, PLUS the following:

  • Derelict vessel and invasive species removal fee: $5.
  • Annual derelict vessel removal surcharge: $1.
  • Registration filing fee: $4.50.
  • Registration renewal service fee: $15.

Boat title:

  • Title application fee: $15.
  • Title filing fee: $5.50.
  • Title transfer service fee: $15.
  • In-person application agent fee non-title transactions: Fees vary by transaction and location.

Duplicate:

  • Watercraft title: $26.75 PLUS $15 service fee (required at some locations).
  • Registration card: Varies by county PLUS a possible service fee (required at some locations).

Sales/use tax:

Varies according to your WA county of residence—select the most recent sales and use tax chart for specifics.

All locations accept cash and checks. Checks should be payable to “Department of Licensing.” 

Some locations accept credit and debit cards. Individuals who use a debit or credit card may be charged a convenience fee of $2 or 2.35% of your total fee.

WA Vessel Renewals & Replacements

All Washington boat registrations expire annually on June 30. The Department of Licensing will send you a renewal reminder before the expiration date.

Individuals can renew their vessel registration by:

  • Providing your hull identification number AND all applicable renewal fees using the DOL’s online portal.
  • Taking the renewal reminder AND the necessary registration renewal fees to your local DOL office branch. 

Duplicate Boat Registration, Decals, or Title

To replace the vessel registration card, hull decal, OR title residents will need to provide:

  • An Affidavit of Loss/Release of Interest (Form TD-420-040), with the “Affidavit of Loss” section completed.
    • Residents who choose to mail their application for duplicates, they’ll need to have their signature notarized on the form.
  • The appropriate fees for replacement registration, title, and/or decals.

Then, individuals can submit their request for replacements in person or by mail to any DOL agency.

Notification Requirements

WA residents are required to notify the Department of Licensing within 15 days if:

  • They lose your registration card.
  • The owner’s address changes.
  • The vessel is abandoned, stolen, destroyed, lost, or recovered.

Individuals can report any of these changes by calling (360) 902-3900.

Washington Boater Requirements

In Washington, the State Parks and Recreation Commission requires vessel operators to have a Boater Education Card if they:

  • Are 12 years old or older.
  • Were born after January 1, 1955.
  • Will be operating a vessel with a motor 15 hp or more.

Additionally, the WA State Parks and Recreation Commission prohibits anyone under the age of 14 years old from operating a personal watercraft. Some cities or counties have other age restrictions for boat operators, so it is important to know the regulations in the area where individuals will be boating.

To earn a boater education card, residents of Washington need to complete any of the following:

A boater education course offered:

  • Online—see a list of approved online providers.
  • In the classroom—find a time, location, and provider that best suits your needs.
  • Through a hands-on training program.
  • As a home-study course—information on how to request study materials.
  • A proficiency exam (better for experienced boaters)—request to take the exam.

Once WA residents successfully pass a course or proficiency test, they need to mail a completed Boater Education Card Application (Form P&R A-430) and include the $10 boater education card fee to:

Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission

Boating Program
P.O. Box 34333
Seattle, WA 98124

Washington residents need to allow up to 4 weeks for their boater education card to arrive by mail.

Accepted Forms of Payment

The Washington Department of Motor Vehicles accepts the following forms of payment:

  • Check
  • Money order
  • Credit card
  • Debit card
  • VISA
  • MasterCard
  • American Express

Washington State residents who plan to pay all applicable taxes and fees by check or money order need to make it payable to “Department of Licensing.” Residents also need to make sure they have an accepted form of payment before visiting a local Washington State DOL location.

Leave a Reply