Licensing wheeled all-terrain vehicles
I already have a WATV and want to modify it for on-road use
What is a WATV?
- 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.
- 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.
Dune buggies, snowmobiles, and golf carts do not qualify as wheeled all-terrain vehicles.
How to title and register a WATV
Go to a vehicle licensing office to title and register your WATV within 15 days of purchase, otherwise penalty fees will apply. You'll get a:
- Title – keep this in a safe place at home.
- Registration (license) document – keep this with the vehicle or have it on you when you use it.
- Metal tag (Same size as a motorcycle license plate) – Attach on the back of the WATV.
Also see Transfer ownership.
As a WATV owner you're required to:
- Meet off-road requirements, get an off-road tab to put on the metal tag. Fees apply.
- Meet on-road requirements, get both an on-road and an off-road tab and put on metal tag. Fees apply.
- Replace your metal tag every 7 years. Fees apply.
WATV Registration Exemption for Nonresidents
On-road: To be eligible for a nonresident exemption from registration of an on-road wheeled all-terrain vehicle, all of the following must apply:
- The vehicle must meet the definition of WATV in RCW 46.09.310(19).
- The vehicle must have a valid registration and metal tag from another state for on-road use.
- A similar exemption must be granted in the other state for WATVs from Washington (reciprocity).
- The other state's requirements for on-road use must be equal to or exceed Washington's requirements (RCW 46.09.457).
Off-road: Non-residents may operate their off-road vehicle (or WATV) in Washington with a valid off-road vehicle or WATV permit issued from their state, when all of the following apply:
- The off-road vehicle or WATV is owned by a resident of the other state
- The other state grants reciprocity to Washington
Find out where you can ride
Contact the city or county where you want to use your WATV. You can't ride everywhere, even if your WATV is licensed for road use. Some places where the speed limit is 35 mph or less allow you to ride your WATV but it depends on the rules for that location. See RCW 46.09.455 for requirements and restrictions.
City and county contact information:
- Washington City and Town Profiles (mrsc.org)
- Washington County Profiles (mrsc.org)
Temporary ORV Use Permits
- You have the option to purchase a temporary use permit if you don't want to license your vehicle for a full year.
- Non-residents may also get a permit. It's not a requirement that the non-resident's WATV registration be current to purchase this permit.
- WA residents must have the title for the WATV before they can get a permit.
- The permit is valid for 60 days from the date it's issued.
- The permit isn't transferable and is not for road use.
- An ORV may be titled without being currently registered to get this permit.
The fee for a Temporary ORV Use Permit is $15.75.
Steps to modify your wheeled all-terrain vehicle (WATV) for on-road use
To ride your WATV on approved public roads, streets and highways in permitted counties you'll need a metal tag with an on-road tab.
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.
Note: If you're permanently disabled and meet the disabled parking requirements, you may choose to have a disabled parking tab issued to your WATV instead of a regular on-road yearly tab.
- Make sure the vehicle has the following equipment installed. See RCW 46.09.457**:
- Head lamp – used whenever you're driving on a road. See RCW 46.37.030 and 46.37.040.
- Tail lamp. See RCW 46.37.525.
- 2 Tail lamps – For utility-type vehicles. See RCW 46.37.070.
- Stop lamp. See RCW 46.37.200.
- Reflectors. See RCW 46.37.060.
- Turn signals. See RCW 46.37.200 and RCW 46.61.310.
- Brakes in working order.
- Mirror on left or right handlebar.
- 2 Mirrors – For utility-type vehicles. See RCW 46.37.400.
- Horn or warning device. See RCW 46.37.380.
- Spark arrester and muffling device. See RCW 46.09.470.
- Windshield. See RCW 46.37.430, unless the driver wears glasses, goggles, or a face shield that meets the requirements by the state patrol. See WAC 204-10-026.
- Seatbelts – For utility-type vehicles. See RCW 46.37.510.
- Have a WA licensed WATV dealer or repair shop inspect the vehicle. They'll complete Part 1 and sign the Wheeled All-Terrain Vehicle Road Use Declaration (English, Español, Русский, and more) form.
- Your safety inspection cost can't be more than $50.
- 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.
What if I remove equipment from my WATV and it no longer qualifies for on-road use?
- 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 WATVs may not be operated side-by-side in a single lane of traffic.
- Laws for motorcycle drivers under RCW 46.37.530.
Do I need a motorcycle endorsement?
What if I'm under 16?
You must be supervised by someone who's over 18 years old and licensed to drive:
- On highways,
- On non-highway roads designated for off-road vehicles, and
- To cross a highway – it must have crossing signs, "Wheeled all-terrain vehicles or off-road vehicles may be crossing"
- Chapter 46.09
- RCW 46.17.350: License fees by vehicle type
- RCW 46.63.020: Violations as traffic infractions