View the requirements to sign up for and use our online system for conducting plate searches.
What is a contracted plate search?
A contracted plate search allows qualified business and government users to search and view Washington vehicle and boat records. You can search by:
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- License plate number
- Boat Hull Identification Number (HIN)
- Boat registration number (starting with WN)
- Registered owner name
Log in to or join License eXpress to use this system.
Who can apply for a plate search contract?
You must have a contract with us to access vehicle or boat registration information. Businesses or agencies that can get access include:
- Insurance agents
- Private investigators
- Process servers
- Vehicle dealers
- Vehicle wreckers or salvage processors
- Out-of-state tow truck operators
- Law enforcement agencies
- Government agencies
- Financial institutions
You must also engage in permissible business activity to use this service. Permissible activities include:
- Government use
- Processing insurance claims
- Buying, selling, impounding, or destroying vehicles
- Administering vehicle taxes
- Enforcing or administering vehicle-related laws
- Financing or refinancing purposes
If you do not see your business activity, you can still request a plate search contract. We'll review your request and determine if the activity is permissible.
What you need
- A computer with any mainstream operating system (such as Windows, macOS, or Linux)
- Any of these web browsers (current version or one version older):
- Microsoft Edge
- Internet access (broadband, DSL, or dial-up)
How to get started
If you're the account administrator, follow the steps below. You'll manage system access for your employees.
See the License Express for Vehicle Businesses E-Services Account User Guide for detailed instructions about each of these steps.
1. Request a plate search contract
Follow the instructions in the user guide to apply.
2. Get access to the system
Once we approve the contract, follow the instructions in the user guide to set up account access. You can also add additional users.
3. Conduct searches
Now you're ready to search for vehicle and boat records through License eXpress. See the instructions in the user guide for more information.
Requirements to use this service
See your organization’s contract for the complete requirements.
Your organization must follow our data compliance requirements.
Laws and rules
Federal and state laws govern who can receive lists of vehicle and boat owners and for what purpose. Users of this service must comply with the following:
- Federal Driver Privacy Protection Act (18USC2721§2725)
- State confidentiality laws (RCW 46.12.635, 46.12.640, and 46.22.010)
- State confidentiality rules (WAC 308‑10‑075 and 308‑93‑087)
- Contract requirements, including privacy and security requirements
- Use and Disclosure Agreement
You must keep a current business license.
- Your organization must provide a copy of the entire agreement to each user.
- Each user must review and sign an Appropriate Use Declaration form.
- The licensee contract manager (administrator) must track each user's access.
- Each user must maintain an updated Information Request Log.
- Your organization must keep the logs for a minimum of 3 years.
If you provide vehicle or vessel data to an attorney or private investigator, you must:
- Provide written notice to the owner of the requested records within 5 days.
- Submit a copy of this notice to our Public Disclosure Unit at email@example.com.
Download a sample written notice if you need a reference.
Get help with License eXpress
If you need help with accessing or using License eXpress, email us at DRIVEShelp@dol.wa.gov.