Licensing wheeled all-terrain vehicles

Metal tags for ATVs

A new law changed how 4-wheeled and utility-type ATVs are licensed. All wheeled all-terrain vehicle (WATVs) that meet the definition below must display a metal tag.

Visit a vehicle licensing office to get a WATV permit issued. You won’t get the metal tag at that time. It will be mailed to you from our headquarters in Olympia. Depending upon the demand, metal tags may be mailed within 2 weeks.

As a WATV owner you’re required to:

  • Affix the metal tag to the rear of the WATV.
  • Keep the ORV decal on the WATV for law enforcement purposes.
  • Sign the registration and carry it when operating the WATV.

Definition of wheeled all-terrain vehicles that need a metal tag

These are considered wheeled all-terrain vehicles, and must have a metal tag:

  • A motorized, non-highway vehicle with handle bars:
    • That is 50 inches or less in width.
    • Have a seat height of at least 20 inches.
    • Weighs less than 1,500 pounds.
    • Has 4 tires with diameters of 30 inches or less.
  • or
  • A utility-type vehicle designed for, and capable of, travel over designated roads that:
    • Has 4 or more low-pressure tires of 20 psi or less.
    • Is less than 74 inches wide.
    • Weighs less than 2,000 pounds.
    • Has a wheelbase of 110 inches or less.
    • Meets 1 or more of the following:
      • Is at least 50 inches wide.
      • Weighs at least 900 pounds.
      • Has a wheelbase of over 61 inches.

If your WATV is modified for on-road use, you may get a tab to display on the on-road portion of the metal tag. This allows you to ride your WATV on certain roads. Please visit the city or county website where you want to operate your WATV to make sure on-road use is allowed.

How to modify your wheeled all-terrain vehicle for on-road use

  1. Make sure the vehicle has the following equipment installed as required by RCW 46.09.457*:
  2. Have a Washington licensed WATV repair shop or dealer inspect the vehicle. They’ll complete Part 1 of the Wheeled All-Terrain Vehicle Road Use Declaration form and sign it.
  3. Take the following to a vehicle licensing office:
    • The Wheeled All-Terrain Vehicle Road Use Declaration form.
    • A copy of the receipt showing you paid for the inspection – attached to form.
    • The vehicle’s title.
      • If your bank has the title, contact them to get it and the road use declaration submitted.

*Note: All equipment must meet the requirements within Chapter 46.09 RCW.

Metal tag

We’ll issue a temporary permit and mail a metal tag to you:

  • The permit is printed on security paper and must be weatherproofed before using.
  • When you receive your tag, affix it to the rear of the WATV.
  • Keep the ORV decal on the WATV for law enforcement purposes.
  • Sign the registration and carry it when operating the WATV.

If you’ve completed all the steps to modify your WATV for on-road use:

  • We’ll add “modified for on-road use” to the vehicle registration.
  • To ride on allowable roads, you’ll need a metal tag with a current tab. The law requires you to pay both on- and off-road fees and meet the requirements for on-road use.

Frequently asked questions

How can I find out if a WATV dealer or repair shop is licensed?
Ask for their Unified Business Identifier (UBI) number and Search business and professional licenses online. Repair shops will have a business license; dealers will have both a professional and a business license. The status should be open and active.

How much will the safety inspection cost?
The dealer or repair shop can’t charge more than $50 per safety inspection. Attach a copy of the receipt to your Wheeled All-Terrain Vehicle Road Use Declaration form.

What if I decide to remove the equipment that’s installed?
After you’ve removed the equipment, you must submit the title to a vehicle licensing office and remove the on-road tab from the metal tag. We’ll issue a new title for the vehicle with the comment “not eligible for road use.”

Do I need a driver license to operate a WATV on a public roadway?
Yes. It must be valid and you must comply with all:

  • Applicable Rules of the road, except that wheeled all-terrain vehicles may not be operated side-by-side in a single lane of traffic.
  • and
  • Laws for motorcycle drivers under RCW 46.37.530.

Do I need a motorcycle endorsement?
No.

Related laws

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Access Washington – official state government website