Getting a driver license: Military personnel

We issue licenses to military service members and their families with the word “military” in the place of the expiration date. These individuals don’t have to renew their driver licenses for the length of their military service.

Who qualifies?

  • Members of the armed forces on active duty.
  • Members of the National Guard and reservists called to duty for 180 days or more.
  • Spouses, domestic partners, and dependents of military personnel.

When will the license expire?

  • The license is valid until 90 days after honorable discharge from active duty, unless it is suspended, cancelled, or revoked for a cause provided by law.
  • A “military” driver license issued to a reservist who has been called to active duty, or the spouse or dependent child of the reservist, remains in effect only while the person remains on active duty.

How to apply

  1. Go to any driver licensing office.
  2. Present your Washington State driver license and proof of active duty military service.
  3. If you’re a spouse, domestic partner, or child dependent, present your Washington State driver license and dependent ID card.
  4. Pay the fee.

How to get a replacement license while out of state

Standard “military” license

If your driver license with a “military” expiration is lost, stolen, or damaged while you are outside of Washington State, you may request a replacement license by mailing us:

Your replacement license will be labeled “identity not verified” and won’t contain a photograph or signature. Since you are not in the state to comply with photograph and identification requirements, the replacement license will be labeled “valid without photo,” “identity not verified,” and “signature not available.”

Enhanced driver license/ID card (EDL/EID)

Due to security requirements, we can’t mail a replacement enhanced driver license/ID card to an out-of-state address. However, if you won’t be back in Washington State within 30 days, you may get a standard driver license or ID card to replace your EDL/EID. See Lost or stolen EDL/EID for more information.

How to get a license with a photograph when you return to Washington

When you return to Washington, present the “valid without photo” license at a driver licensing office with your photo ID. After you meet all requirements, you will be issued a license with a photograph.

Frequently asked questions

Am I required to get a license showing “military”?

No. Your driver license remains in effect under the same conditions as a license with “military,” even after the expiration date has passed. However, getting a license with “military” on it will ensure that we will keep a record of your license for the entire length of your military service, and make it easier for private businesses and government officials to determine that your license is valid.

How do I renew my license while I’m serving outside of Washington State?

You don’t need to renew your driver license during your term of military service. Your driver license will remain valid as long as you are on active duty.

I am not a Washington State resident. Does this apply to me?

No. If you are a non-resident and hold a license from another state, this does not affect your license.

When I retire or separate from service, what do I need to do?

  • Within 90 days after honorable discharge, you must apply for a driver license renewal. You will then receive a standard 6-year license.
  • If your separation from the service is not honorable, the military designation is void and you must renew your driver license immediately.

What do I need to have if I am stopped by law enforcement?

If you have a “military” driver license or a regular license that remains in effect for the length of your service even though the expiration date has passed, you should carry your military identification card as evidence that the license is valid. A spouse or dependent child should carry their dependent identification card. Domestic partners should carry proof of their relation to the military personnel.

Can I upgrade to an enhanced driver license if I have a “military” license?

Yes. We will keep the “military” indicator on your driving record. To see about upgrading to an enhanced driver license: “Can I get an EDL/EID if I have a ‘military’ license?” in the EDL/EID Frequently Asked Questions.

Can I add a motorcycle endorsement to my license while serving outside of Washington?

Yes. For information adding a motorcycle endorsement see “How to get your endorsement or permit: Motorcycles (2-wheel)”.

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