All vehicles and vessels that will be used within the State of Washington must be licensed. Preowned vehicles that have out-of-state plates and documentation must be registered immediately after purchase. If you purchased your vehicle from an out-of-state dealer, it is likely that the dealer did not license your vehicle with the State of Washington. Check with your dealer to be sure. Follow the steps below. Please be sure to complete step 1 before going to the Auto License agent.
Step 1:Determine if your vehicle will need an emissions test.
Please call or link to the Dept. of Ecology at 1-800-453-4951. Or, inquire at any Auto Licensing agent or office. See Listing of Locations for where to ask and/or have the test performed, if required. Generally, newer used vehicles less than five years old will not require an emissions test. A few locations in rural areas of Clark County do not require residents to obtain emission tests. The Dept. of Ecology has a list of zip codes (pdf file) that require the tests.
Step 2:Obtain the vehicle license and pay fees and taxes.
You can do this by going to the main Auto Licensing center in downtown Vancouver, or better yet, you can license your vehicle at any of the county's 9 vehicle licensing agencies. An additional fee is charged at subagent offices. See the Listing of Locations for the locations and hours of operation. Want to learn more? See the State of Washington Dept. of Licensing website.
Some items you will need
When you go to either the main office or to any of the agencies:
- Certificate of Title
- Bill of Sale
- Name and address if lienholder(s)
- Notarized signatures
- Weight certificate for all trucks, unless scale or empty weight is shown on the title
- Federal odometer statement on vehicles less than 10 years old
- Emission test may be required (see Step 2, above)
- Out of country vehicles will require customs documents
- Unexpired Washington state driver's license as required by RCW 46.16A.050 unless exempt under RCW 46.20.025
- Cash, check or money order, debit or credit card (except VISA credit cards) (There is a convenience fee for debit and credit cards).
To legally operate your vehicle while waiting for any of the above documents, a 3-day permit or a 60-day temporary permit is available. A purchase order, picture identification and all tax and license fees are required for the 60-day temporary permit.
Note: Vehicle inspections from the Washington State Patrol are no longer required before registering your vehicle except in some circumstances. The Auto License Agent will notify you if an inspection is required. See the FAQ page for more information.