• Car Registration

WA Car Registration/Get Registered

There are a few general requirements for Washington vehicle registration, which you should understand well before you proceed to register your car. If you are simply seeking the instructions for Washington registration renewal, you won’t have to go through the full process as you would with first-time registration, so view 4DMV.com’s registration renewal pages.

First-Time Washington Registration

There are different situations that require first-time Washington registration including:

  • Purchasing a vehicle whether new or used
  • Moving to Washington with out-of-state registered vehicles
  • The recipient of a vehicle as gift or inheritance

As a new Washington resident from out-of-state, your vehicle must be registered and your license must be obtained for Washington within 30 days.

After obtaining ownership of a new or used vehicle through:

  • Purchase
  • Gifting
  • Inheritance

you will be given only 15 days to register the vehicle. If you fail to meet this deadline, there is a $25 additional fee assessed by the 16th day after you have received the vehicle, with a $2 additional fee for each day afterwards, which can reach a maximum of $100.

Get Washington Auto Insurance

Washington is a bit different than other states, in that you aren’t required to prove that you have auto insurance before you are able to register a Washington vehicle. However, the mandatory auto insurance law in Washington requires that you always carry proof of an adequate auto insurance policy whenever you are behind the wheel. If you are stopped by law enforcement and cannot prove you have insurance, you will suffer the consequences. To find an adequate policy and learn about the required minimal insurance, visit 4DMV.com’s insurance center online.

Register Vehicle in Washington

When you get a new car or even a pre-owned vehicle from a car lot, the dealer will most likely take care of all the paperwork for registration and titling. They will issue a temporary placard for the vehicle, which gives you a temporary proof of registration, with the official registration arriving by mail within no more than 30 days.

If you purchase a vehicle from a private party, however, the paperwork is all on you. You will not only have to obtain first-time registration of the vehicle, but must transfer the title to your name as well.

If you have obtained the vehicle from a private party, there is a bit of paperwork to submit before you can receive your registration.

  • You must submit the original title signed appropriately by both yourself and the seller. The title must also indicate the mileage of the vehicle. If you or the owner cannot find the title, a new title must be obtained.
  • You will be required to submit a Washington bill of sale form if the vehicle is being transferred between owners. This bill of sale is going to be used in order to determine the taxes you must pay for registration.
  • An emissions test report must be submitted if you live in the required areas, which includes Spokane, Clark, King, Snohomish, and Pierce County. If the vehicle was purchased in a state other than Washington, this report is also required.
  • A Vehicle Certificate of Ownership Application can be downloaded  online. It must be completed, signed, and notarized before submission and is only required for those who are new to the state and can be mailed to:

Washington Vehicle Licensing
Department of Licensing
P.O. Box 9909
Olympia, WA 98507-9909

Make sure that you only purchase a vehicle that you have verified through a vehicle history report if you are planning on purchasing from a private seller. This can be a great tool for negotiation, as well as self-protection from a poor investment.

Washington Registration Fees

There are several things that go into the calculation of your Washington registration fees. The weight of your new vehicle, the county in which you live, and the license plate that you choose for your vehicle all have an influence in the registration costs you pay. You can view the DOL Registration Fee Page online.

Or you could visit the Vehicle Licensing Page

To determine more accurately just what you may pay for vehicle registration.

The registration fees you pay will in most cases include:

  • Registration fees
  • Sales, and use tax in some cases, for new purchases
  • $4 subagent fee for filing paperwork without county auditor
  • RTA, Regional Transit Authority, tax applied to only King, Snohomish, and Pierce County residents
  • $15 VIN verification fee for first-time registration in Washington
  • City or county required location transportation benefit district fee
  • Title fees for new title application
  • Specialty or personalized license plate fees if chosen

Visit Washington DMV

Once you get everything together, waste no time visiting the DOL office near you or mailing the paperwork to the DOL at:

Washington Vehicle Licensing
Department of Licensing
P.O. Box 9909
Olympia, WA 98507-9909

If you choose to mail your registration paperwork to the DOL, you must be sure that you send the exact amount required for your fees. You can get the exact costs by calling the Department of Licensing at 1-360-902-3770 option 5, or contacting the vehicle licensing office through the information found at DMV Office Finder in Washington.

Washington License Plates

When you apply for registration in Washington, you will also be issued standard plates and stickers, or tabs. If you choose to don your vehicle with specialty or personalized license plates, you will have to pay an extra fee. You can choose to also apply for Washington disabled license plates and placards if needed at this time. You can find more information at the 4DMV.com license plates pages.

Affix License Plate Tabs

As soon as you receive your license plate tabs, affix them to the plate to ensure that they are seen. You will be given instructions to do so in order to ensure they are affixed according to state guidelines.

Receive Tax Deduction for WA Registration Fees

The state of Washington does not base registration fees on the value of your car, so you will not receive a deduction for these costs. However, there are some vehicles that require use tax to be paid for registration to be issued, which may be tax deductible. Visit for more information about Washington Vehicle Use Tax

You can also visit the IRS Publication 17 page

If you want more information or need a bit of help, you can employ the assistance of a tax attorney in Washington.

Getting On the Road

Once you have registered and titled your new vehicle, it is time to get behind the wheel and hit the gas. However, you want to be sure that you are aware of the traffic laws in place in Washington, which you can study through the Washington Vehicle Code.

You can also obtain membership in one of the many roadside assistance programs offered in Washington to ensure you are never stranded with a flat, out of gas, or in any other vehicle-related dilemma. You can also obtain a vehicle emergency kit in order to have first aid supplies needed in the event of an accident.


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