Requirements: Renew your tabs

Renewal notice requirements

You may need to meet certain requirements before you can renew your tabs, or you’ll need to include a requirement when you renew. To find out what you need to do, find the requirements below that you see printed on your renewal notice:

Before you renew:

Pass a Washington emission inspection
Certify this vehicle is used as a ride share vehicle
Provide your primary residence street address
Before you renew your tabs, please see Change your address to learn about residence address requirements.
Provide your primary business street address
Before you renew your tabs, please see Change your address to learn about address requirements for business vehicles.

When you renew:

Replace your license plates
Replace your personalized license plates

It’s time to get new license plates. The cost for your new plates depends on the type of plates you currently have. Your notice should have the additional cost included in total.

We require new plates every 7 years because the reflective coating wears out. This coating is important because it helps you and law enforcement to identify vehicles in poor weather. For more information, see: RCW 46.16A.200 - License plates.

If you’re renewing by mail, complete the personalized plate area on the payment coupon.

In most cases, your new personalized plates are printed with the standard mountain background. If you want, you can to get a special plate background for an additional fee. For more information, contact a vehicle licensing office or see Personalized plates with a special background design.

We’ll mail your plates in a 12" x 6" envelope that won’t fit into smaller mailboxes.

Replace your specialized license plates

It’s time to get new license plates. We require new plates every 7 years because the reflective coating wears out. This coating is important because it helps you and law enforcement to identify vehicles in poor weather. For more information, see: RCW 46.16A.200 - License plates.

When you get your new plates:

  • You’ll get a new plate number, or
  • If you want to keep your current number, it’ll cost an additional $20.
  • If you have a personalized plate, it’ll stay the same.

We’ll mail your plates in a 12" x 6" envelope that won’t fit into smaller mailboxes.

Verify your primary residence street address

Please visit a vehicle license office when you renew. You’ll need to verify your primary residence street address. Bring your renewal notice and one of the following:

  • Utility bill,
  • Driver license, or
  • Other documentation verifying your primary residence street address.

If the address we have is incorrect, you may change it at the licensing office.

Verify your primary business street address

Please visit a vehicle license office when you renew. You’ll need to verify your primary business street address. Bring your renewal notice and a utility bill or other documentation verifying your primary business street address.

If the address we have is incorrect, you may change it at the licensing office.

Renew your disabled parking privilege
Our records show that your disabled parking has expired. To keep your special license plate and get your disabled parking tab for the next year, please renew at a vehicle license office.

For more information, see Disabled parking.
Prove you qualify for the RTA excise tax exemption
To keep your RTA (Sound Transit) excise tax exemption, take your renewal notice and your active-duty or dependent military ID card to a vehicle licensing office. If you’ve registered to vote in Washington, you no longer qualify for this exemption.
Provide this vehicle’s DOT number or proof of exemption

Please visit a vehicle license office when you renew. Bring proof to show you’re exempt or have a DOT number. See DOT numbers to get the DOT Number Determination/Disclosure form and determine if you need a DOT number.

If you operate:

  • under a lease agreement, bring a copy of the agreement.
  • an auto transport, passenger charter, solid waste, motor freight, or limousine, and don’t transport hazardous material, subtract the $16 commercial vehicle safety enforcement fee from your total.
Tell the licensing agent the number of months of gross weight license you want to purchase
You’ll need to visit a vehicle licensing office. The gross weight license fee shown on your renewal notice is priced for 12 months. If you’re buying 14,000 pounds or more gross weight and want to buy less than 12 months, tell the licensing agent how many months you want when you buy your tabs.
Tell the licensing agent the amount of gross weight license and months you want to purchase
You’ll need to visit a vehicle licensing office because our records show that this vehicle carries no gross weight and isn’t licensed to drive on Washington’s public roads. Tell the licensing agent the gross weight and how many months you want to purchase. If you’re not sure how many months, please discuss options with the licensing agent.
Provide proof you’ve paid your Federal Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (FHVUT)
When you renew your tabs, visit a vehicle licensing office, show proof you’ve paid your FHVUT. Your options are:
  • Bring the original or copy of validated Schedule 1 (form 2290) Schedule of Highway Motor Vehicles for the current tax period,
    or
  • A receipted Schedule 1 (form 2290) that shows proof of filing is required each year even if the vehicle is exempt from FHVUT
    or
  • All of the following:
    • A copy of Form 2290 Heavy Vehicle Use Tax Return, and
    • Schedule 1 (form 2290) Schedule of Highway Motor Vehicles as filed with the IRS, and
    • Proof of payment (a copy, front and back, of the canceled check payable to the IRS).
Show you’ve paid or are exempt from paying your Federal Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (FHVUT)
When you renew your tabs, visit a vehicle licensing office, and show proof that:

  • You’ve paid your FHVUT to the IRS. This tax is paid when a vehicle meets all these conditions:
    • It’s registered for highway use,
    • It’s driven on public highways, and
    • The declared gross weight is more than 55,000 pounds.
  • The vehicle is exempt. It’s exempt if it’s:
    • Owned and used by:
      • a government agency (federal, state, county, city),
      • the District of Columbia,
      • the American Red Cross,
      • non-profit volunteer fire depts.,
      • ambulance associations, or
      • rescue squads.
    • Operated by:
      • A Native American Tribal government and is an essential function,
      • A mass transportation authority, created under a statute (e.g. Metro in Seattle), or
      • A state or local government.
    FHVUT may be suspended for a tax period if the vehicle was used on public highways:
    • 5,000 or less miles, or
    • 7,500 or less miles for agricultural vehicles (miles driven on the farm doesn’t count towards the 7,500).
Pay your outstanding balance from a past transaction
You’ll need to visit a vehicle licensing office. Bring the letter we sent that shows the past due amount and pay your outstanding balance.
You must provide the scale weight of your vehicle
Please visit a vehicle licensing office and bring proof of the weight of your vehicle so we can charge the correct weight fee. Proof can be:
  • The owner’s manual.
  • A previous title or registration.
  • A nationally accepted vehicle value guide.
  • The vehicle manufacturer web site.

Show proof that you’re a professional firefighter

Please visit a vehicle license office. Bring a current letter from the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters and one of the following:

  • A valid Washington state driver license,
  • A valid Washington ID card, or
  • International Association of Fire Fighters ID showing current membership.

If you want to keep the current plate number, it’ll cost an additional $20.

If you’re not going to keep your Professional Fire Fighter plates, you’ll get regular plates when you renew.

Informational only

We’re unsure whether your address is within the Regional Transit Authority taxing district boundary
No Regional Transit Authority (RTA) tax has been included in the total on your renewal notice. If it’s determined that you live within the RTA district, you may receive notification of RTA taxes due.

For more information regarding the RTA tax, please visit Sound Transit’s website, or contact Sound Transit at 877.755.4550.
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