WA residents stationed outside the state: Vehicles & boats

Washington as home of record

If you’re a Washington resident temporarily stationed in another state for military duty, you may continue to license your vehicles in Washington State. Military personnel include:

  • Active-duty members of the United States armed forces:
    • Coast Guard
    • Army
    • Navy
    • Marines
    • Air Force
  • Members of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA).
  • Commissioned officers of the public health service.

Spouses

The spouse of an active-duty military member with Washington as home of record may also license a vehicle in Washington if both the military member and spouse are registered co-owners of the vehicle.

How to get Washington plates

To get Washington license plates while you’re stationed in another state:

  1. Complete a Vehicle Certificate of Ownership (Title) Application.
    • Include the scale weight of the vehicle (as shown on the title).
    • If the vehicle is a truck, also include the Gross Weight (from the owner’s manual, NADA, Kelly Blue Book, or manufacturer’s website).
    • All registered owners must sign the application, and all the signatures must be notarized. You may have the signatures notarized by a notary public or an active-duty commissioned officer of the armed forces. If the commissioned officer’s signature, rank, and branch of service appear on the document as a notary, no further proof of their authority is needed.
  2. Include all of the following:
    • The title. The military person’s name must be on the title or the vehicle record.
      • If you’re making payments on the vehicle, submit a copy of the title (front and back).
      • If the vehicle is less than 10 years old, complete the odometer reading on the title. If you don’t have the title, complete an Odometer Disclosure Form instead. You can get a form from any vehicle licensing office or car dealership, or by sending an email to titles@dol.wa.gov with the address where you want us to send it.
    • A copy of the military person’s orders showing he or she is stationed outside of Washington for at least 90 days.
    • A copy of a Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) showing Washington as the home of record.
    • All applicable fees. Your fees depend on the weight of your vehicle, where you live, and the types of license plates you want. To find out the exact cost, please contact a vehicle licensing office or call us at 360.902.3770.
    • If the vehicle has been registered in another state and owned for less than 90 days, submit the:
    • If the vehicle is new (never licensed before) or was licensed in a foreign country while you were on active duty, submit the Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (MSO) or Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO) with your application. For more information about importing a vehicle, see Customs inspections.
  3. Complete a Certificate of Fact for Address Verification — Exception form.
  4. Mail your completed forms, supporting documents, and fees to any vehicle licensing office.

Emissions testing

All local emissions requirements apply to your vehicle. You won’t need to get a Washington State emissions test as long as:

  • You’re stationed outside of Washington.
  • and
  • The vehicle is operated outside of Washington.

Licensing deadlines

If your vehicle was licensed… Deadline
At your last duty station. You may continue to operate it with the current registration until it expires. Then you may license the vehicle in Washington State or the state where you’re currently stationed.
In a foreign country, and you’re returning to the United States. You must license your vehicle in Washington or the state where you’re stationed within 30 days of returning.

Washington sales tax

You may be exempt from paying Washington State sales or use tax if you buy a vehicle while you’re stationed in another state. For details, see Tax exemptions.

Tab expiration dates

If you were stationed outside of Washington when your vehicle tabs expired, you may get a new tab expiration date. The expiration date will be 1 year from the day you apply, so the registration is valid for a full 12-month period. To get this new expiration date:

  • You must provide a copy of your military orders showing the dates you were stationed outside of Washington.
  • The tab expiration date must fall within the dates shown on your military orders.

How to apply

You may apply for a new tab expiration date in person or by mail. It isn’t available online.

  • Apply in person at a vehicle licensing office. Bring along a copy of your military orders so we can verify your deployment dates, and a check or money order for the fees. (An additional service fee may apply.)
  • Apply by mail. Please include all of the following:
    • Your tab renewal notice.
    • A copy of your military orders.
    • A check or money order for the tab renewal fees.

Related laws and rules

Explanation of abbreviations

  • RCW—Revised Code of Washington (Washington State laws)
  • WAC—Washington Administrative Code (Washington State agency regulations)

See also:

Washington Healthcare Finder
Access Washington