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?

  1. Complete or get all of the following:
  2. 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 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.
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