Moving to Washington? Get a WA license

Things to know

  • By law, you have 30 days after you move to Washington (WA) to get your WA driver license. You will also need your WA driver license before you can register any vehicles here.
  • We have separate locations for driver and vehicle licensing. Be prepared to make 2 trips.

Overview

  1. Establish residency in WA.
  2. Decide if you want a standard driver license or an enhanced driver license (EDL).
  3. Pre-apply online.
  4. Make an appointment to visit a driver licensing office.
  5. Get WA plates for your vehicle, if applicable.

1. Establish residency in WA

You're considered a WA resident if you:

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

An EDL is an alternative to a passport card. 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 additional requirements. See steps to getting your EDL/EID.

3. Pre-apply online

Pre-apply online so you can make an appointment. This will create your Washington ID or driver license number. Some restrictions may apply.

4. Visit a driver licensing office

Visit an office to finish the application you started online. You must make an appointment to go into the driver licensing office. Bring the following:

At the office, you'll need to:

  • Tell us your Social Security number (SSN).
  • Pay fees (cash, check, or card).
  • Decide if you want to register to vote or be an organ donor (optional).
  • Pass any required tests:
    Tests you'll need to pass based on your situation (guidelines only)
    If you have Pass these tests
    A valid license from:
    • Another U.S. state (driving record dated within the last 30 days)
      • District of Columbia
      • U.S. Territory or possession
      • U.S. Department of State
    • British Columbia – Class 5 only; Class 7 doesn't transfer
    • 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 infoseattle@mofa.gov.tw.
    • Japan – If you want a WA driver's license, 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:

  • Have held an instruction permit for at least 6 months. This time can include your out-of-state or out-of-country instruction permit or license
  • Provide proof of having successfully completed a driver training course that meets our requirements.
    • Online and parent-taught traffic safety education aren't transferable. If your teen completes a course in another state it must meet WA minimum requirements.

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 are from a country listed above and have Motorcycle or Commercial endorsements they may not transfer.
    • Motorcycle endorsements are only transferrable from:
      • U.S. states.
      • U.S. territories.
      • District of Columbia.
      • British Columbia.
      • Japan.
    • Motorcycle-only licenses are non-transferable.
    • Customers under 18 must provide proof of training.
    • Commercial endorsements are only transferrable from U.S. States and District of Columbia. Complete steps to transfer your CDL.

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 make an appointment to 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?

Call us: 360.902.3900 (TTY: Call 711)

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