RCW 46.16A.200: License plates. (2023)

License plates.

(1) Design. All license plates may be obtained by the director from the metal working plant of a state correctional facility or from any source in accordance with existing state of Washington purchasing procedures. License plates:

(a) May vary in background, color, and design;

(b) Must be legible and clearly identifiable as a Washington state license plate;

(c) Must designate the name of the state of Washington without abbreviation;

(d) Must be treated with fully reflectorized materials designed to increase visibility and legibility at night;

(e) Must be of a size and color and show the registration period as determined by the director; and

(f) Before July 1, 2010, may display a symbol or artwork approved by the former special license plate review board and the legislature. Beginning July 1, 2010, special license plate series approved by the department and enacted into law by the legislature may display a symbol or artwork approved by the department.

(2) Exceptions to reflectorized materials. License plates issued before January 1, 1968, are not required to be treated with reflectorized materials.

(3) Dealer license plates. License plates issued to a dealer must contain an indication that the license plates have been issued to a vehicle dealer.

(4)(a) Furnished. The director shall furnish to all persons making satisfactory application for a vehicle registration:

(i) Two identical license plates each containing the license plate number; or

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(ii) One license plate if the vehicle is a trailer, semitrailer, camper, moped, collector vehicle, horseless carriage, or motorcycle.

(b) The director may adopt types of license plates to be used as long as the license plates are legible.

(5)(a) Display. License plates must be:

(i) Attached conspicuously at the front and rear of each vehicle if two license plates have been issued;

(ii) Attached to the rear of the vehicle if one license plate has been issued;

(iii) Kept clean and be able to be plainly seen and read at all times unless an exception in (b) of this subsection applies; and

(iv) Attached in a horizontal position at a distance of not more than four feet from the ground.

(b)(i) The Washington state patrol may grant exceptions to this subsection if the body construction of the vehicle makes compliance with this section impossible.

(ii) If the applicable requirements of (b)(iii) of this subsection are met, the display of a single license plate properly attached to a vehicle that has two license plates properly attached in accordance with (a)(i) of this subsection may be temporarily obstructed by one or more of the following devices or by the cargo the device is carrying:

(A) A trailer hitch;

(B) A wheelchair lift or wheelchair carrier;

(C) A trailer being towed by the vehicle, provided the trailer meets any applicable trailer license plate requirements under this chapter; or

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(D) A bicycle rack, ski rack, or luggage rack.

(iii) The obstruction of a single license plate under (b)(ii) or (b)(iv) of this subsection is only authorized if the following requirements are met:

(A) The device is installed according to manufacturer specifications or generally accepted installation practices; and

(B) The device or cargo the device is carrying does not prevent the license plate from being read from one or more accessible viewing angles when the vehicle is parked, except if the device is a trailer that meets the trailer license plate requirements under this chapter.

(iv) If the applicable requirements of (b)(iii) of this subsection are met, the display of a single license plate attached to a trailer in accordance with (a)(ii) of this subsection and meeting any applicable trailer license plate requirements under this chapter may be obstructed by a device for transporting a forklift used for product delivery purposes. For purposes of license plate visibility, the single trailer license plate obstructed by a device for carrying a forklift may be relocated on the trailer or the towing vehicle to a position that is more than four feet from the ground.

(6) Change of license classification. A person who has altered a vehicle that makes the current license plate or plates invalid for the vehicle's use shall:

(a) Surrender the current license plate or plates to the department, county auditor or other agent, or subagent appointed by the director;

(b) Apply for a new license plate or plates; and

(c) Pay a change of classification fee required under RCW 46.17.310.

(7) Unlawful acts. It is unlawful to:

(a) Display a license plate or plates on the front or rear of any vehicle that were not issued by the director for the vehicle;

(b) Display a license plate or plates on any vehicle that have been changed, altered, or disfigured, or have become illegible;

(c) Use holders, frames, or other materials that change, alter, or make a license plate or plates illegible. License plate frames may be used on license plates only if the frames do not obscure license tabs or identifying letters or numbers on the plates and the license plates can be plainly seen and read at all times;

(d) Operate a vehicle unless a valid license plate or plates are attached as required under this section;

(e) Transfer a license plate or plates issued under this chapter between two or more vehicles without first making application to transfer the license plates. A violation of this subsection (7)(e) is a traffic infraction subject to a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars. Any law enforcement agency that determines that a license plate or plates have been transferred between two or more vehicles shall confiscate the license plate or plates and return them to the department for nullification along with full details of the reasons for confiscation. Each vehicle identified in the transfer will be issued a new license plate or plates upon application by the owner or owners and the payment of full fees and taxes; or

(f) Fail, neglect, or refuse to endorse the registration certificate, except as authorized under this section.

(8) Transfer. (a) Standard issue license plates must be replaced when ownership of the vehicle changes, pursuant to subsection (9)(a)(i) of this section, but the registered owner may retain the license plates and transfer them to a replacement vehicle of the same use. In addition to all other taxes and fees due upon change in ownership, a registered owner wishing to keep standard issue license plates shall pay the license plate transfer fee required under RCW 46.17.200(1)(c) when applying for license plate transfer.

(b) Special license plates and personalized license plates may be treated in the same manner as described in (a) of this subsection unless otherwise limited by law.

(c) License plates issued to the state or any county, city, town, school district, or other political subdivision entitled to exemption as provided by law may be treated in the same manner as described in (a) of this subsection.

(d) License plate replacement is not required when a change in vehicle ownership is the result of one or more of the following circumstances:

(i) When adding a lienholder to the certificate of title or removing a lienholder from the certificate of title;

(ii) When a vehicle is transferred from one spouse or registered domestic partner to another;

(iii) When removing a deceased spouse or registered domestic partner from the certificate of title;

(iv) When a vehicle is transferred by gift or inheritance to one or more members of the registered owner's immediate family;

(v) When a vehicle is transferred into or out of a trust in which the registered owner or one or more immediate family members of the registered owner is the beneficiary;

(vi) When a leaseholder buys out the leased vehicle; or

(vii) When a person changes his or her name.

(9) Replacement. (a) Except as provided in subsection (8)(a) of this section, an owner or the owner's authorized representative must apply for a replacement license plate or plates: (i) When taking ownership of the vehicle; (ii) if the current license plate or plates assigned to the vehicle have been lost, defaced, or destroyed; or (iii) if one or both plates have become so illegible or are in such a condition as to be difficult to distinguish. An owner or the owner's authorized representative may apply for a replacement license plate or plates at any time the owner chooses. The department shall offer to owners the option of retaining the current license plate number when obtaining replacement license plates for the fee required in RCW 46.17.200(1)(b).

(b) The application for a replacement license plate or plates must:

(i) Be on a form furnished or approved by the director; and

(ii) Be accompanied by the fee required under RCW 46.17.200(1)(a).

(c) When a vehicle is sold to a vehicle dealer for resale, the application for a replacement plate or plates need not be made until the vehicle is sold by the vehicle dealer.

(d) The department shall not require the payment of any fee to replace a license plate or plates for vehicles owned, rented, or leased by foreign countries or international bodies to which the United States government is a signatory by treaty.

(10) ReplacementExceptions. The following license plates are not required to be replaced as required in subsection (9) of this section:

(a) Horseless carriage license plates issued under RCW 46.18.255 before January 1, 1987;

(b) Medal of Honor license plates issued under RCW 46.18.230;

(c) License plates for commercial motor vehicles with a gross weight greater than twenty-six thousand pounds.

(11) Rules. The department may adopt rules to implement this section.

(12) Tabs or emblems. The director may issue tabs or emblems to be attached to license plates or elsewhere on the vehicle to signify initial registration and renewals. Renewals become effective when tabs or emblems have been issued and properly displayed.


RCW 46.16A.200: License plates.? ›

Washington State Legislature RCW 46.16A. 200 states that if two license plates have been issued, they must be placed on the front and rear of your vehicle.

How do I look up a license plate in Washington state? ›

VinCheck.info offers free license plate lookup that will reveal past ownership, title information, liens, odometer reading and salvage records. Enter and search license plates registered in the state of Washington.

Do you have to have a front license plate in Washington state? ›

Does Washington require front license plates? Washington State requires drivers to display front and rear license plates, with a few exceptions. According to Washington State Legislature 46.16A. 200, if two license plates are issued, they both have to be displayed on the front and rear of your vehicle.

What is the RCW 46.16A 230? ›

(1) The governor may enter into compacts with federally recognized Indian tribes principally located within this state concerning the licensing and registration of tribal government and tribal member-owned vehicles with tribal license plates issued by the department.

Are tinted license plate covers illegal in Washington state? ›

What about license plate covers? While the rules are clear about frames, covers are not mentioned under Washington state laws. We can conclude from this that there is no law prohibiting the use of covers, but be careful to keep them clean and ensure that no letters or numbers on your plate are obscured.

How do I find out who owns a car by the license plate in WA? ›

You can check the rego of a vehicle in WA for free via the Department of Transport website. Make sure you've got the licence plate number handy and enter it into the search box to access the registration history.

How do I find out who owns a vehicle in Washington state? ›

To check if the title is valid and clear of lien holders, call 360.902. 3770. (DOL will not provide specific details about the vehicle.) To check if the vehicle has title brands, send a completed Vehicle Record Request form to recordrequest@dol.wa.gov.

Can you drive around without a front license plate? ›

Driving without a valid rear license plate is illegal in all 50 states. Some states, however, don't require a front license plate. The only exception for driving without a permanent license plate is for a brief window after you've purchased a new car and you're waiting for your permanent plates.

Are license plate lights required in Washington state? ›

It takes more than mounting both license plates to conform to our state laws. Every vehicle manufactured after January of 1964 is required to have white light making the rear license plate visible at a distance of 50'. The potential fine for either violation is $139.

Does Tesla provide front license plate holder? ›

To accommodate jurisdictions that require a license plate on the front of your vehicle, Model Y is equipped with a license plate bracket. This bracket conforms to the shape of your vehicle's front bumper and is adhered to it using strong adhesive.

What is Washington RCW 49.46 200? ›

It is in the public interest to provide reasonable paid sick leave for employees to care for the health of themselves and their families. Such paid sick leave shall be provided at the greater of the newly increased minimum wage or the employee's regular and normal wage.

What is Washington state law RCW 46.61 608? ›

Operating motorcycles on roadways laned for traffic.

(1) All motorcycles are entitled to full use of a lane and no motor vehicle shall be driven in such a manner as to deprive any motorcycle of the full use of a lane. This subsection shall not apply to motorcycles operated two abreast in a single lane.

What is the purpose of RCW 48.30 090? ›

No person shall make, issue or circulate, or cause to be made, issued or circulated any misrepresentation of the terms of any policy or the benefits or advantages promised thereby, or the dividends or share of surplus to be received thereon, or use any name or title of any policy or class of policies misrepresenting ...

What is a license plate wrap? ›

A: License Plate Wrap (LPW) is an alternative front license plate made of reflective vinyl and is scannable with a License Plate Reader. It replicates the traditional metal plate but just on vinyl.

Can you get pulled over for tinted windows in Washington? ›

Unfortunately, tinted windows count as a primary offense in Washington, which means that you can get pulled over solely for this reason. Police officers will carry devices that can accurately measure how dark the tint is, and in case you don't comply with the regulations, you may face a $124 fine.

Are smoked license plate covers legal in Texas? ›

Are tinted license plate covers legal in Texas? Covering a license plate with protective material is illegal in Texas.

How can I check my car history for free? ›

How can I learn a vehicle's history? Visit the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) website, vehiclehistory.gov, to get a vehicle history report with title, insurance loss, and salvage information.

How do I run a VIN number on my car? ›

You can get a free VIN check at the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), VehicleHistory.com or iSeeCars.com/VIN. Just pop in your car's digits and these sites will do the VIN lookup and give you information on the vehicle.

Is there a grace period for car registration in WA? ›

ls there a grace period for car registration in WA? You have three months from the expiry date to renew your vehicle licence without the need to return the plates and have the vehicle inspected. The renewal period will be calculated from the previous expiry date where the fees are paid within this three month period.

Is there a database of car owners? ›

COMPREHENSIVE AUTO DATABASE. Reach nearly 200 million auto owners nationwide with our premiere Automotive Database. Every record contains a VIN from which detailed vehicle-related information is derived including year, make and model.

Can I take ownership of an abandoned vehicle in Washington state? ›

The most direct way to obtain ownership of an abandoned vehicle is to contact the Washington Department of Licensing and request the motor vehicle title record. You can make a request for this information online.

Can you register a car with a bill of sale and no title in Washington? ›

Washington requires a bill of sale to transfer a car title and register the vehicle after it's been bought and sold. You can use the state-provided form or create your own. You don't need to have the form notarized.

Why Tesla doesn t have front license plate? ›

Farm vehicles, like road-tractors, need one front plate. “If the motor vehicle is any kind of motor vehicle other than those provided for in subdivisions 2 to 4,” the statute states—and Teslas are not—then “one plate must be displayed on the front and one on the rear of the vehicle.”

Why don t Teslas have front license plates in California? ›

They aren't. All motor vehicles, Teslas included, are subject to section 5200 of the California Vehicle Code, which states that if two plates are issued to a vehicle, two plates must be attached, front and back.

Are smoked tail lights legal in WA? ›

In some states, such as Victoria and Western Australia, tinting your tail lights is perfectly legal as long as the tint does not obstruct the light in any way. However, in other states, such as Queensland and New South Wales, any tinting of your tail lights is illegal.

Do you need 2 license plates in Washington state? ›

According to Washington state law, a car must have a front and back license plate on the car. Washington State Legislature RCW 46.16A. 200 states that if two license plates have been issued, they must be placed on the front and rear of your vehicle.

Is it illegal to have LED lights inside your car in Washington state? ›

According to a thorough search of the state's laws on vehicle lighting, and research from Sgt. James Prouty of the Washington State Patrol and Officer Loretta Cool of the Tacoma Police Department, there is no law on the books in Washington that says it's illegal to drive with the interior dome light on.

What is Elon Musk's Tesla license plate? ›

Description. The white California TSLA 10 License Plate is produced as it appeared on Elon Musk's Roadster before it was launched into space atop Space X's Falcon Heavy vehicle on February 6, 2018, the date that Musk's Roadster became the first standard roadworthy vehicle sent into space.

How much is a no front plate ticket in NY? ›

The license plate cannot be visibly displayed and has to be securely fastened in the front and rear of the vehicle. If a person is caught driving without a license plate in New York he or she will be charged $200 + $93 surcharge with no points added to his or her license.

Do Teslas need a front license plate in Texas? ›

The challenge that continues today is certain vehicle models, including Teslas, don't always come with a front license plate holder. However, as of now, Texas law still requires both a front and rear plate.

What is Initiative 200 Washington State? ›

Initiative 200 was a Washington state initiative to the Legislature promoted by California affirmative-action opponent Ward Connerly, and filed by Scott Smith and Tim Eyman. It sought to prohibit racial and gender preferences by state and local government.

Is moonlighting legal in Washington State? ›

Moonlighting: If an employee earns less than double the state minimum wage, an employer may not restrict, restrain, or prohibit the employee from having an additional job, supplementing the employee's income by working for another employer, working as an independent contractor, or being self-employed.

What is RCW 46.04 270? ›

"Legal owner" means a person having a security interest in a vehicle perfected in accordance with chapter 46.12 RCW or the registered owner of a vehicle unencumbered by a security interest or the lessor of a vehicle unencumbered by a security interest. [ 1975 c 25 § 1; 1961 c 12 § 46.04. 270.

What is the RCW 46.61 205? ›

Vehicle entering highway from private road or driveway—Vulnerable users of a public way—Fine. (1) The driver of a vehicle about to enter or cross a highway from a private road or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles lawfully approaching on said highway.

What is WA RCW 46.61 210? ›

RCW 46.61. 210 requires Washington drivers to yield to any approaching emergency vehicle and move “immediately” to the right.

What is the Washington State violation 46.61 400? ›

(1) No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.

What is RCW 51.24 090? ›

(1) Any compromise or settlement of the third party cause of action by the injured worker or beneficiary which results in less than the entitlement under this title is void unless made with the written approval of the department or self-insurer.

What is RCW 11.20 090? ›

Wills probated in any other state or territory of the United States, or in any foreign country or state, shall be admitted to probate in this state on the production of a copy of such will and of the original record of probate thereof, certified by the attestation of the clerk of the court in which such probation was ...

What is RCW 9.68 a 090? ›

Communication with minor for immoral purposes—Penalties.

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, a person who communicates with a minor for immoral purposes, or a person who communicates with someone the person believes to be a minor for immoral purposes, is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

Are license plate covers illegal in US? ›

Nope, it is illegal to cover your license plate in any jurisdiction.

What's the difference between a wrap and a decal? ›

Decals are similar to wraps, but instead of covering your entire vehicle, they're made to be placed on specific areas, like a door or a hood. They're much smaller and come with custom sizing options. They're also extremely cost-effective for promoting your brand as you ride around town.

Why do people cover their license plate in pictures? ›

Blurring a license plate online is done for two different reasons: either to protect your privacy or to avoid incriminating yourself. It is possible to dig up the owner's info if the number ends up in the wrong hands. It can also be reported to police whether or not you've done something wrong.

What is the darkest tint you can get in Washington state? ›

You may tint your vehicle to 24% VLT for the front doors of any SUV. The back half can be any darkness you prefer. As for passenger vehicles, you may tint up to 24% on all windows except the windshield. All windshield tinting can only be tinted to a max of 6″ from the top or the as1 mark.

What's the darkest legal tint you can get? ›

California window tint law restricts windshield tint on top 4 inches. Front side windows must have 70% light transmission or more. Back side windows and rear window may have any tint darkness.

How much is the ticket for a illegal tint in Washington state? ›

Window tint tickets in Washington often cost $124, which is not that pricey of a fine if you are only cited once, but you can get a ticket for illegal tint in Washington again and again for the same illegal tint, so it's better to make sure the window tint you have installed is legal in the first place.

What is the purpose of a smoked license plate cover? ›

ANTI-THEFT PROTECTION - License plate cover will prevent thieves from stealing your plate or the registration tag. A must-have for license plate collectors. Even after years of driving, your license plate would still look brand new.

Is stealing license plates a felony in Texas? ›

Generally, those are misdemeanor crimes, punishable by a fine of not more than $200.

What is PhotoBlocker spray? ›

PhotoBlocker™ Anti Traffic Camera Spray

Once sprayed on your license plate, PhotoBlocker's special formula produces a high-powered gloss that reflects the flash back towards the camera. This overexposes the image of your license plate, rendering the picture unreadable.

How do I report a stolen license plate in Washington state? ›

Actions to Take Now
  1. 1) Immediately report the license plate theft to the local police department. ...
  2. 2) Obtain a police report from the visiting officer. ...
  3. 3) Report the stolen plate to your DMV office. ...
  4. 4) Obtain a temporary tag or a new plate from the state as soon as possible.

Is there a license plate for Washington DC? ›

Vehicles registered in the District of Columbia are required by law to display DC DMV-issued vehicle tags. Tags will be issued at registration. Vehicles are required to display two current tags, one on the front and the other on the rear of the vehicle. Exceptions are for motorcycles, mopeds, and trailers.

How long does it take to get personalized plates in Washington? ›

Complaints may result in the cancellation of a personalized plate. We will make the plate exactly as indicated on the application. Allow at least 8 weeks to receive your plates.

How long does it take to get license plates from dealer in Washington? ›

Getting license plates from a dealer in Washington is usually a straightforward process and can typically be completed within just a few hours.

How much are replacement plates in Washington state? ›

Starting July 1, 2022, the cost of standard license plates in Washington is $50.

How much is a ticket for expired tabs in Washington state? ›


If someone is pulled over for expired tabs, they face a possible fine. The cost depends on how long the tabs have been expired. A driver faces a $145 fine for tabs that have been expired for less than two months and a $237 fine for tabs that have been expired for more than two months.

How do I get a copy of my Washington state vehicle registration? ›

Residents can apply for a duplicate WA registration in person or by mail. Washington residents can go to their local driver licensing office and submit a signed and notarized Affidavit of Loss/Release of Interest (Form TD-420-040) with the “Affidavit of Loss” portion completed.

Why does Washington, D.C. have its own license plates? ›

The U.S. federal district of Washington, D.C., first required its residents to register their motor vehicles in 1903. Registrants provided their own license plates for display until 1907, when the district began to issue plates. Plates are issued by the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles (DC DMV).

Can you park in DC without DC plates? ›

If you park or operate a vehicle in public space in the District of Columbia for 60 consecutive days, the vehicle must be registered and display a valid DC DMV inspection sticker and tags. DC's Department of Public Works (DPW) monitors for automobiles that are not in compliance with DC registration requirements.

Can I get a ticket for no front license plate in DC? ›

If you get caught driving without a front license plate in Washington, D.C., you could be issued a $200 fine!

How often do you get new license plates in Washington state? ›

OLYMPIA, Wash. — By state law, Washington license plates need to be replaced every seven years, but a new bill in Olympia would remove that requirement. Many drivers have told the state that they'd rather not have the cost and hassle of changing perfectly good plates every seven years.

How long do I have to register my car in Washington? ›

You have 30 days to title, register and get WA plates on your vehicle. (You can get a $529 minimum traffic fine if you are a resident and do not license your vehicle in this state.

How long is a Washington license plate? ›

Vehicle registration plates of Washington (state)
Current series
SloganEvergreen State
Size12 in × 6 in 30 cm × 15 cm
Serial formatABC1234
7 more rows

What happens if I don t get my license plate within 30 days after buying a car in tx? ›

If it has been 30 days and you have not received your title and/or registration, you can file a dealer complaint against the dealer. Our Enforcement Division investigates complaints against licensed dealers. You may submit a dealer complaint online.

Can you put a car in your name without a license in Washington? ›

You'll essentially need a valid drivers license in order to make the official transfer. If you buy from a private party, you'll need the original title from the seller, as well as a bill of sale. If the car is less than 10 years old, the buyer will need an Odometer Disclosure Statement.

Can I drive in Washington with an out-of-state license? ›

If you already have a valid out-of-state license, you will only need to pass a vision test and medical screening. You will not be required to take a written test or a drive test. If you are getting a new license, you will need to take a knowledge and drive test.

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