How to get your license: Collection agencies
Who needs a license?
- Any business that:
- Solicits, collects, or attempts to collect debts on behalf of a third party (client).
- Purchases delinquent or charged off debts for collection purposes, whether it collects the debts itself, or hires a third party to collect the debts.
- Any individual collecting a debt, using any name other than their own when contacting a debtor to collect a debt owed to the individual.
Washington is a closed–border state. You must have a license before contacting debtors or soliciting clients in Washington.
Determine the type of license you need
- You need a Collection Agency License (in–state) if:
- Your main office is located in Washington, or
- You have, or plan to have, clients located in Washington. In this case, you also need a business office located in Washington managed by a Washington resident.
- You need an Out–of–State Collection Agency License if you are contacting debtors in Washington, either directly or through a third party, who owe money to you or to your out–of–state clients.
- All collection agencies (except debt buyers) must establish a trust account at a federally insured banking institution for money collected on behalf of their clients. This account must have sufficient funds to pay all obligations to clients.
- For in–state agencies, the bank must be located in Washington.
- Out–of–state collection agencies may be able to waive certain requirements. You must submit additional documents with your application to request a waiver.
- Surety bond: You do not need a surety bond if you already have the bond or legal alternative required by the state in which your agency is located.
- Licensing fee: You do not need to pay the licensing fee if your agency is licensed or registered in a state that does not require payment of a fee for similar out–of–state collection agencies.
How to apply
Apply online with the Department of Revenue
What you’ll need
- Supporting documents, shown below, ready for upload
- Visa, MasterCard or American Express credit/debit card (transaction fee charged) or bank account information for E–check to pay:
- Applicable BLS fees
- Collection agency or out–of–state collection agency license fees
Want to apply by mail?
- Complete or get all of the following:
- Mail all forms, supporting documents, and a check/money order payable to the Department of Revenue for the applicable BLS fees and the fees for the appropriate collection agency license type to:
State of Washington
Business Licensing Service
PO Box 9034
Olympia, WA 98507–9034
After we have received all required documents and payment, you’ll receive your license or denial letter within 3 weeks.
If you have a change of address, please notify us by email to BLS@dor.wa.gov or by mail to the address above. Please include your UBI number.
Supporting documents for your application
- All collection agencies (in–state and out–of–state)
- Business Financial Statement/Balance Sheet showing all of the following:
- Liabilities and assets of the agency in 1 of the 3 months prior to application. For example, if you apply in May, we will accept a financial statement for February, March, or April.
- $7,500 or more in cash or its equivalent. $5,000 of the cash must be deposited in a bank account used to operate the business.
- Equity, or net worth, of $7,500 or more.
- A $5,000 surety bond. Your insurance company must:
- Out–of–state collection agencies only:
- If you are requesting a waiver of the Washington bonding requirement, proof that your bond is current and a copy of your home state regulations regarding collection agency bonding requirements.
- If you are requesting a waiver of the licensing fee, a copy of your home state regulations regarding collection agency fees.