How to get your license: Collection agencies

Due to facility issues, this licensing program has limited operations. There may be delays in responding to requests. We apologize for the inconvenience. We’re working toward resuming all business operations as soon as possible.

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.

Requirements

  • 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 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.
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