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Vehicle & Vessel Licensing FAQ

How soon must I change my license plates after I move to Washington?

When you move to Washington State, you have 30 days to title and register your vehicle. Once you do so, you will be issued Washington State license plates.

Does my vehicle need to have an emissions test?

If your car is registered in Kitsap County, you currently do not have to have a vehicle emissions test.

What happens if I lose the title to my vehicle?

To replace a title:

  1. Complete an Affidavit of Loss form. All registered owners must sign the form, and the signatures must be notarized. If there is a lien holder on the title, the lien holder must apply for the duplicate title.
  2. Submit the completed form:
    by mail with a check or money order for $9 to:

    Department of Licensing
    PO Box 9909
    Olympia, WA 98507-8500

    in person at any vehicle licensing office with cash or a check for $9 plus service fees.

    Your duplicate title will be mailed to you in 8-10 weeks.

What should I know about buying a used vehicle?
Read this information from Washington State Department of Licensing.

How do I transfer title when buying from a private party?
Full information at the DOL web site.

What is Use Tax and when do I have to pay it?
Use Tax is charged instead of Sales Tax in some circumstances.
More info

If I sell my car, why should I file a Report of Sale?
Filing a Report of Sale can protect you from liabilities.
More info

What if I have a vehicle, like an antique car, that I drive only occasionally — does it need a license?
You can obtain a Trip Permit to drive an unlicensed vehicle for short periods of time.

How can I get a special or custom license plate?
Washington State offers two kinds of special license plates: special design plates and personalized plates.
More info

Does my cat need a license?
No, on Bainbridge Island, only dogs are required to be licensed. Cat licenses are optional, but may help recover the animal if the cat becomes lost.

Do I need to register a dinghy or tender?
A tender or dinghy is exempt from registration if:

  • It has less than a 10 horsepower engine
  • It is owned by the same owner as the main vessel (which has valid registration)
  • It displays the number of the main vessel followed by the suffix “1”
  • It is used only as direct transport between the main registered vessel and the shore