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How to get your license: Collection agencies

Who needs a license?

If you solicit, collect, or attempt to collect claims for collection, you need:

  • A Collection Agency License if your main office is:
    • In Washington State (WA).
    • or
    • Outside of WA and you have, or plan to have, clients located in WA.
  • An Out-of-State Collection Agency License if:
    • Your main office and all branch offices are located outside of WA.
    • You don’t have any clients located in WA.
    • and
    • You’re contacting debtors in WA who owe money to your out-of-state clients.

Debt buyers added to the definition of a collection agency

The 2013 Legislature adopted a new bill, ESHB 1822, that adds “debt buyers” to the definition of a collection agency. The new law:

  • Makes all debt buyers and others who meet the definition of a collection agency subject to the Washington Collection Agency Act (RCW 19.16) and current administrative rules (WAC 308-29).
  • Clarifies that licensees are prohibited from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. This means that lawyers can practice law and also hold a collection agency license.

Requirements

To get a license you must:

  • Get a trust account.
  • Maintain an office in WA, managed by a WA resident.

To operate a collection agency:

  • You may not begin business activity until you receive the required license.
  • WA is a closed-border state. You must have a license before contacting debtors or soliciting clients in WA.

How to apply

To get a Collection Agency License or Out-of-State Collection Agency License:

  1. Mail us the following:
  2. Fee – Check or money order payable to Dept of Revenue.
  3. Mail to:
    State of Washington
    Business Licensing Service
    PO Box 9034
    Olympia, WA 98507-9034

Note: Please be sure to notify our office in writing of any address changes.

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