How to Register a Car in Washington State?

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Getting your driver’s license is a big step in having more freedom to do as you, please. Registering a car is the next logical step, letting you go about your day without trouble of catching a ride with others! It’s your responsibility to title and register a car in Washington.

Registering your vehicle is done at a WA DOL office or by mail. You’ll want to do this right away if you plan to drive on WA roads legally. Also, don’t think about driving without a title/registration else you could face a license suspension!

The registration process includes a:

  • Title application or lease agreement
  • Identification and proof of residency
  • Insurance and vehicle inspection
  • Paying applicable fees and taxes

Those coming from out of state need to register within 30 days of residency. They’ll follow a largely similar process as your typical vehicle registration. It’s recommended you get an adult WA license for the sake of simplicity when driving – and renewing the vehicle later.

In this article, you’ll learn the steps needed to title and tag your car or truck in Washington.

Washington Car or Truck Registration: Step-by-Step

You will have to register your vehicle after its leased, purchased, inherited, or gifted. Registration is quick-and-easy when you have the necessary documents prepared. And, have payment ready when processing its fees and taxes.

You will register a vehicle within 15 days of ownership in Washington. If you can’t register within this time frame, you’ll get charged $50 then $2 for every day afterward (maxing out at $125).

What You’ll Need

  • WA driver’s license or state ID
  • Proof of vehicle ownership
  • The vehicle’s title
    • Notarized
    • Lien release (if applicable)
  • Completed forms
    • Title Application
    • Emissions testing report (if applicable)
    • Odometer Disclosure (vehicles ten years and older)
    • Bill of Sale
  • Payment method
    • Registration fees
    • Use tax (if applicable)

Emissions inspections are done for those living in the following counties: Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Spokane. Exceptions to the testing are vehicles 10 years and newer, hybrid vehicles (with 50mpg city), and diesel vehicles built since 2007 and under 6,001 lbs.

Vehicle Registration (via Private Sales)

The following details what’s required when buying or selling a vehicle through private parties. See the ‘By Mail’ section below if choosing to register through these means.

  1. Transfer the title
    1. Sign and notarized
    2. No title: Affidavit of Loss/Release of Interest (TD-420-040)
  2. Go to the DMV or Quick Title office
  3. Complete the Vehicle Certificate of Ownership (Title) Application (TD-420-001)
    1. Plus: Lien release if applicable
  4. Provide the disclosures (if applicable)
    1. Emissions test
    2. Odometer
  5. Show your Vehicle/Vessel Bill of Sale (TD-420-065)
  6. Show your proof of ID
    1. Driver’s license
  7. Show proof of insurance
  8. Pay the registration fees

You’ll receive your plates at the office once all items completed unless processed at a Quick Title office (and paying the $50 extra fee). Otherwise, you should receive your plate by mail no more than 10-weeks tops – call if there has been a serious delay.

Dealer Leased or Bought Registrations

Dealerships send your title and tag documents to the WA DOL. However, you may need to process the paperwork if it’s a smaller dealership or at your leisure. You will follow the same procedure as a private registration, swapping the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (usually).

You should receive your documents and plates by mail soon after.

Registration by Mail

You’re expected to sign/notarize the title and file all paperwork as if you were going to the DMV. This includes getting an odometer disclosure in-person before sending everything. Once everything is verified, you’ll send your information to the licensing office.

Send documents and payment to:

Refunds and Title Services

Department of Licensing

PO Box 9043

Olympia, WA 98507

Your registration should arrive in a few weeks; plates should arrive in about three. Touch base with the licensing office if they’ve been delayed.

Washington Car Registration Fees and Taxes

Registrations depend on your vehicle’s type, weight, plates, and address. You can process these payments at a DMV, by mail, or at a License eXpress. It’s best to check the Washington vehicle registration fee calculator for specific details of your registration and title fees as they are very different from one person to the next.

Need a Registration Renewal?

Renewal is quick and easy, much like the initial process, doing it every 6-years. Need help understanding what documents and payments you’ll make? Read our WA Registration Renewal Guide.


Overall, it’s important to be aware of the Washington vehicle registration fees and taxes as they vary depending on several factors. Make sure you have all your documents ready before heading to the DMV, so that you can avoid any delays or additional costs. As always, reach out to the licensing office if you ever have any questions! Good luck!