Licensing off-road vehicles and motorcycles
What is an off-road vehicle (ORV)?
An ORV is a non-street-registered vehicle with 2, 3, or 4 wheels. They're used for recreational purposes on:
- Non-highway roads.
- Other natural terrain.
We title and license some 4-wheeled off road vehicles as Wheeled All-Terrain Vehicles (WATV). See RCW 46.09.310 (19).
How to title and license an off-road vehicle (ORV)
You have 15 days after purchasing your vehicle to apply for a title. Otherwise penalty fees will apply.
You'll also need to get plates and registration before you can drive on public road ways. Your registration expires 1 year from the date you register your ORV. Which means you'll need to register it every year.
You must carry the ORV registration in the vehicle at all times while it is being used in Washington state. You must affix the decals to the ORV.
Purchasing from private party or out-of-state
If you purchased your vehicle from a private party, please follow the steps to transfer ownership and apply for a title and registration. If you purchased your vehicle from out-of-state, follow the steps for registering out-of-state off-road vehicles.
When you complete an application and pay all fees, we'll issue:
- An ORV registration.
Plates for modified off-road motorcycles
You may get a license plate for an off-road 2-wheeled motorcycle modified to meet the requirements for road use. It must be originally manufactured for off-road use only. It must have handlebars and a seat straddled by the rider.
How to make your off-road motorcycle street legal
- Install all the following equipment:
- A head lamp, see RCW 46.37.523 and 46.37.524, to be used whenever the motorcycle is in motion on a highway.
- A tail lamp, see RCW 46.37.525.
- A stop lamp, see RCW 46.37.525.
- Reflectors, see RCW 46.37.525.
- Brakes, see RCW 46.37.527, 46.37.528, and 46.37.529.
- Mirrors on the left and right handlebar, see RCW 46.37.530.
- A horn or warning device, see RCW 46.37.380.
- Tires, see RCW 46.37.420 and 46.37.425.
- Turn signals, see RCW 46.37.200.
- Fenders adequate for minimizing the spray/splash of water, rocks, or mud from the road. Fenders must be as wide as the tires which they're mounted behind. They must extend downward at least half way to the center of the axle.
- Windshield, RCW 46.37.530, unless the driver wears glasses, goggles, face shield conforming to rules adopted by the state patrol.
Note: Equipment installed on your motorcycle must also meet federal Equipment Manufacturer Labeling Requirements.
- Motorcycle must be inspected by a licensed Washington State motorcycle repair shop or motorcycle dealer.
- Submit all of the following to a vehicle licensing office:
- Completed Motorcycle Highway Use Declaration form.
- Copy of the receipt showing you paid for the safety inspection (attached to the form).
- Title for the motorcycle. If the bank has the title, you'll need to work with your bank to get the title and motorcycle highway use declaration form submitted.
Title, registration, and license plate
When you've completed the process of making your motorcycle street legal:
- We'll print "modified for on-road use" on the title and registration to show that it's street legal.
- You'll need an ORV decal and a motorcycle license plate to ride on public roads. The law requires modified off-road motorcycles to meet both ORV and on-road usage requirements.
Register an out of state off-road vehicle
If you come from a state that doesn't impose a retail sales or use tax for ORVs, you must certify and register your ORV for use in Washington State. When you complete and submit the application and pay the fees, we'll issue:
- Decals or metal tag.
Bring the following to a vehicle licensing office along with applicable fees:
Frequently asked questions
How can I find out if a motorcycle dealer or repair shop has a license?
Ask for their Unified Business Identifier (UBI) number. You can also use our license lookup to see if they're licensed.
- Repair shops have business licenses.
- Dealers will have a professional license and business license.
Their status should be open and active.
How much will the safety inspection cost?
The dealer or repair shop can't charge more than $100 per inspection.
Make sure you attach a copy of the receipt to your Motorcycle Highway Use Declaration form.
What if I decide to remove the equipment that's installed?
If you remove the equipment, the motorcycle isn't street legal.
Submit the title to a vehicle licensing office and remove the license plate. We'll issue a new title that says "not eligible for road use."
Do I need a motorcycle endorsement on my driver license?
Yes. You must also follow all the Rules of the road and laws for motorcycle drivers under RCW 46.37.530.
Related Washington State laws
Questions? Need help?