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New to Washington

SUMMARY: New Washington Residents

To obtain a Washington driver's license, you'll need to visit your local DOL office in person. You will also need to register your car in person which may require passing an emissions inspection. To be eligible to vote, you'll need to register either by mail, online, or in person. If you'd like to be an organ donor, you can register online or in person.

This page will help you find all the information you need to complete your tasks with the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL).

Washington State Departments

Though most people think of the word "DMV" to refer to a state's licensing and motor vehicle agency, in Washington, that department is actually called the Department of Licensing (DOL).

The WA DOL provides services such as:

  • Vehicle registration and titling.
  • Licensing and state ID cards.
  • Motorcycle endorsements.
  • Driving records.
  • Commercial driver's licenses.

Other agencies you may become familiar with include the Washington Secretary of State, whose State Elections Division handles elections and voter registration, as well as the Washington court system, should you receive a traffic ticket or commit another type of transgression.

WA Driver's License/ID Card

If you have an out-of-state driver's license, you'll need to transfer it for a Washington license within 30 days of moving to the state. You'll need to visit your local Washington DOL office in person with various documents and pay the driver's licensing fee. Complete instructions can be found on our Applying for a Driver's License page.

If you're a teenager with an out-of-state driver's permit, you will be able to transfer it for a Washington instructional permit as long as you have met the state's requirements, including appropriate driver's training. See our Applying for a Teen License page for more information.

NOTE: If you need a commercial driver's license (CDL), application instructions can be found on our Applying for a New CDL page.

Identification Cards

If you're new to Washington and you don't plan on driving here, you can apply for a Washington identification card. You'll need to visit a WA DOL office and provide some required documents. Learn more about this process on our Identification Cards page.

Register Your Car in Washington

If you are bringing your out-of-state car with you to Washington, you will need to have it registered with the Washington DOL within 30 days of establishing residency in the state. For more information about this topic, visit our Car Registration page.

Special Vehicle Registration

If you own a special vehicle, such as an off-road vehicle, recreational vehicle (RV), trailer, or moped, your registration process may differ to that of a standard car. Our guide to Other Vehicle Registrations in Washington has all the details.

Car Insurance

When you change states, you should always check to see if you can get a better deal when it comes to car insurance. If you want to get the best value on your new policy, our Washington Car Insurance section may be helpful.

Required Vehicle Inspections

Depending on the type of vehicle you drive and what county you live in, you may be required to take your vehicle in for an emissions inspection. To find out if you're exempt or not, please refer to our page on Car Inspections in Washington.

Organ Donations & Voting in Washington

There is so much good that can come from organ donation. Lives are being saved every day. Even if you were a registered organ donor in your previous state, you'll need to re-register with the Washington registry once you're a resident of the state.

You can re-register or find out more about the topic on our Organ Donation in Washington page.

Similarly, before you can vote in Washington, you'll need to register here first, even if you were a registered voter in your previous state. Make sure you don't miss any important ballots by visiting our Voter Registration in Washington page.

Military Members Stationed in Washington

If you're an active-duty member of the military, you and your family may be exempt from some of the state's driver's licensing and vehicle registration requirements. To learn more, please refer to our page for Washington Military Drivers.

DMV Office Location & Resources

When you're ready to visit the DMV, our Office Finder can help you locate any office in the state.

Before hitting the road with your new WA driver's license, be sure to get acquainted with the state's road rules, found in the DOL's driving manuals:

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