Washington car registration is a process that must originate with the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL). Vehicle registration information varies by state, and Washington is one of the few states that allows new car registration to be done by mail as well as in person. In addition, car registration renewal services can be handled completely online via a trusted third-party provider. For more information about auto registration services in Washington, read the following sections:
- Washington vehicle registration information required.
- Where to register a car in Washington for the first time.
- How to register a new car in Washington.
- How to register a used car in Washington.
- Temporary Washington vehicle registration.
Washington Vehicle Registration Information Required
Whether you are getting car registration for a brand-new vehicle or one that is used, the vehicle registration information is essentially the same. Washington DMV car registration requires applicants to provide the following documentation:
- Form 420-001, Vehicle Certificate of Ownership (Title) Application.
- A vehicle title signed by the buyer and the seller in front of a notary, car registry licensing agent or county auditor.
- Form TD-420-065, Vehicle/Vessel Bill of Sale.
- Official odometer disclosure statement for vehicles up to 10 years old.
- A bill of sale or dealer purchase agreement if you have owned the car for less than 90 days.
- Emissions testing documents, as described below.
Washington car registry emissions inspections are required for residents of the following counties: Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane. Car registration emissions exemptions are available for certain vehicles in those counties, including hybrids rated at least 50 mpg in the city, vehicles model year 2009 or newer that meet California emissions standards, all diesel vehicles dated 2007 or newer and diesels that weigh less than 6,001 pounds.
Where to Register a Car in Washington for the First Time
New residents wondering "How do I register my car in Washington?" should note that the first vehicle-related task is to obtain your Washington driver's license. Car registry applicants have 30 days to get a new license after moving into the state and it must be done before registering a vehicle. You can initiate a motor vehicle registration in Washington at any vehicle licensing office or Quick Title office located around the state. You can also skip the process of going to an office in-person and mail your documents instead to your closest vehicle licensing office or to the address listed below. If you get car registration documents in person, you can leave with your license plates that same day. If you opt to register your car by mail, you will have to wait to receive the plates in the mail. If you apply at a Quick Title office, you will also receive your title in one day. Otherwise, expect it to take up to 10 weeks to receive your title in the mail.
How to Register a New Car in Washington
If you buy a new car from a dealership, the Washington registration of vehicle process will be handled for you by the dealer and you will receive the license plates and other documents in the mail. You must apply for your title and auto registration within 15 days of taking ownership of it, regardless of how you purchased your vehicle or if it was gifted to you. To obtain a new car registration in Washington, bring all of the documents outlined in the "Washington Vehicle Registration Information Required" section above to your nearest licensing office or Quick Title office. Or, mail vehicle registration documents to the address listed below if time is not of the essence. Although car insurance is required by law in WA, you do not have to show proof of insurance when you register your car. You must pay any DMV car registration fees at the time of your application. These car registry fees are calculated based on the vehicle's weight and type, the type of license plates you want, and your home address.
How to Register a Used Car in Washington
If you are wondering how to get car registration completed after you buy a used car or receive one as a gift, you have 15 days to transfer the ownership into your name and obtain your own license plates. Washington charges car registry applicants penalties starting on the 16th day of possession, and they accrue daily up to a certain amount. You will need to file a report of sale at a DMV car registration licensing location or you may do this online at the DOL website. Washington motor vehicle registration requires applicants with used cars to provide an odometer disclosure statement along with the other documentation listed above. Make sure to obtain an emissions inspection if you live in one of the five counties where they are required. When it comes time to renew your car registration in WA, consider applying online to help you manage your future registration renewals with ease. You can complete auto registration renewal conveniently through a trusted third-party provider.
Temporary Washington Vehicle Registration
You can get a temporary Washington vehicle registration permit if you buy a car while serving as nonresident military personnel. These car registry applicants are defined as active duty members of the U.S. armed forces, members of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), commissioned officers of the public health service or members of foreign military organizations on official duty in Washington State. Temporary car registration must be applied for by submitting Form TD-420-044, Non-Resident Military Affidavit for Exemption of Excise Tax and proof that you have applied for vehicle registration outside of the state of Washington. The temporary motor vehicle registration permit permits you to use the vehicle in Washington for 45 days while you apply for out-of-state registration.
All documents for Washington vehicle registration may be mailed to your local licensing office, or send them to:
Refunds and Title Services
Department of Licensing
P.O. Box 9043
Olympia, WA 98507