Moving? Get WA license

Things to know

  • By law, after you move to Washington (WA) you have 30 days to get your WA driver license. Also, you'll need your driver license before you can register any vehicles.
  • We have different offices for driver licensing and vehicle licensing. You won't be able to get your license and register your vehicle at the same place.

Overview

  1. Establish residency in WA
  2. Decide if you want a standard driver license or an enhanced driver license (EDL)
  3. Find out if you can pre-apply online
  4. Visit a driver licensing office
  5. Get WA plates for your vehicle, if needed

1. Establish residency in WA

You're considered a WA resident when you do any of the following:

  • Register to vote
  • Receive state benefits
  • Receive in-state tuition fees
  • Get a WA state license at resident rates (Fishing license, hunting license, etc.)

2. Decide if you want a standard driver license or an enhanced driver license (EDL)

An EDL is an alternative to a passport. You use it to re-enter the U.S. by land and sea after traveling to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean. Getting an EDL has different steps and requires a trip to an EDL office. See steps to getting your EDL/EID.

3. Find out if you can pre-apply online

You may be able to save time in an office by pre-applying online. Some restrictions may apply. Find out if you can pre-apply.

4. Visit a driver licensing office

Visit an office to start your application or to finish the application you started online. Bring the following:

At the office, you'll need to:

  • Be prepared to wait in line. See Tips for visiting an office: Driver licensing offices
  • Tell us your Social Security number (SSN) - mandatory to help enforce child support laws.
    • You don't need to show us your card, we'll still be able to verify it.
    • If you don't have an SSN, you must verify your WA residence before you can proceed.
  • Pass a vision screening
  • Pay any fees
  • Decide if you want to register to vote and be an organ donor (optional)
  • Pass any required tests:
    If you have Pass these tests
    A valid license from:
    • Another U.S. state
      • District of Columbia
      • U.S. Territory or possession
      • U.S. Department of State
    • British Columbia
    • Germany
    • South Korea
    • Taiwan – If you want a WA driver’s license, please contact the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Seattle (TECO) at 206.441.4586 ext. 311 or by e-mail at info@teco-seattle.org.
    • Japan – If you want a WA driver’s license, visit the Consulate-General of Japan’s website about transferring Japanese driver licenses in English or Japanese, or contact the Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle at 206.682.9107 or by email: info@se.mofa.go.jp.
    No tests required if you’re 18 years old or older. See Teens if you’re under 18.
    An expired license from another state Knowledge and drive test
    No driver license Knowledge and drive test
    A Washington learning permit Knowledge and drive test
    A valid license, but have a medical or physical condition that shows testing is required Knowledge and drive test

If you're under the age of 18 with a valid driver license or permit from another state or country and you want a WA driver license, you need to:

  • Get a WA permit
  • Take a driver training course

See Steps to getting your first license: Driver training programs and Teens.

If you're from another country

  • If you've moved to WA from a country or Canadian province not mentioned above, you must complete all the steps to getting your first license.
  • If you're visiting WA, you may use your out-of-country driver license for up to 1 year.

Get your license

Before you leave the licensing office, we'll punch a hole in your out-of-state driver license/ID card and return it to you. You'll get a temporary license that allows you to drive for 45 days. You probably won't be able to use your temporary license for ID purposes. Some businesses may:

  • Accept your hole-punched out-of-state card for identification
  • Ask you to provide something else for proof of ID

We'll mail your permanent license within 7–10 days. If you don't receive it within 30 days, please visit a driver licensing office.

5. Get WA plates for your vehicle, if needed

See Moving to WA? Get plates to find out what you need to do.

Related information

Questions? Need help?

Contact us

Washington Healthcare Finder
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Access Washington – official state government website