If you are a Washington resident stationed outside of the state, you may be qualified to get or renew your Washington State vehicle or boat registration.
How to qualify
If you're a Washington resident temporarily stationed in another state for military duty, you may continue to license your vehicles in Washington state. Military personnel includes active-duty members of the United States armed forces in the Coast Guard, Army, Navy, Marines, or Air Force. This also includes members of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) and commissioned officers of the public health service.
Spouses of active-duty military members with Washington as their home of record may also license a vehicle in Washington if both the military member and their spouse are registered co-owners of the vehicle.
Get Washington state plates while stationed in another state
If you are a Washington resident stationed in another state that meets the qualifications, you can renew your registration by following these 4 steps.
Step 1: Submit a "Vehicle Title Application"
To register your vehicle, you will first need to Submit a Vehicle Title Application form.
Make sure you include scale weight which can be found on your vehicle title. If you have a truck, include the Gross Weight, which you can find in your owner's manual, NADA, Kelly Blue Book, or a manufacturer's website. Before you send the title application, make sure all registered owners sign the application and have their signatures notarized. You may use a notary public or an active-duty commissioned officer. If the commissioned officer's signature, rank, and service branch appear on the document as a notary, no other proof is needed.
Step 2: Include additional documents and fees
You must include all of the following documents.
First, include the title with the military person's name on the title or vehicle record. If you're making vehicle payments, submit a copy of the title (front and back). If the vehicle's model year is 2010 or older, you don't have to report the Odometer miles. If the vehicle model year is 2011 or newer fill out the Odometer Disclosure Statement on the title. Most titles have an Odometer Disclosure Statement section. If you don't have the title, you can get an Odometer Disclosure form from a vehicle licensing office.
A copy of the military person's orders
The orders should show that they are stationed outside of Washington for at least 90 days.
A copy of a Leave and Earnings Statement (LES)
This document should show Washington as the home of record.
Your fees depend on vehicle weight, where you live, and the license plate type. To get an exact cost, contact a vehicle licensing office.
If the vehicle has been registered in another state and owned for less than 90 days
Submit the Vehicle/Vessel Bill of Sale form to show the price of the vehicle or the purchase agreement from the dealership with proof of any taxes paid.
If the vehicle is new (never licensed before) or was licensed in a foreign country while you were on active duty
Submit the Manufacturer's Statement of Origin (MSO) or Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin (MCO) with your application. For more information about importing a vehicle, see Customs inspections.
Step 3: Complete the Primary Residence Address Exception form
Complete a Primary Residence Address Exception form only if you meet 1 of the following exceptions to the residence address rule:
- You have an overseas Military APO/FPO address.
- U.S. Postal Service mail delivery isn't available at your Washington State primary residence or principal place of business street address.
- You're on active duty in the military and your home of record is Washington State, but you're currently stationed in another state or jurisdiction.
- You aren't a Washington resident, but need a valid vehicle or vessel title to get a title in the state or jurisdiction where you live.
- You aren't a Washington resident, but your vehicle must be registered in Washington State.
Step 4: Mail your forms
Mail your forms, supporting documents, and fees to any vehicle licensing office.
If your vehicle was licensed at your last duty station, you can continue to operate it with the current registration until it expires. Then you may license the vehicle in Washington or the state where you are currently stationed.
If your vehicle was licensed in a foreign country and you are returning to the United States, you must license your vehicle in Washington or the state where you're stationed within 30 days of returning.
Tab expiration dates
If you were stationed outside of Washington when your vehicle tabs expired, you may get a new tab expiration date. The expiration date will be one year from the day you apply, so the registration is valid for a full 12-month period. To get this new expiration date:
- You must provide a copy of your military orders showing the dates you were stationed outside of Washington.
- The tab expiration date must fall within the dates shown on your military orders.
How to apply
You may apply for a new tab expiration date in person or by mail. It isn't available online.
Apply in person at a vehicle licensing office. Bring along a copy of your military orders so we can verify your deployment dates, and a check or money order for the fees. (An additional service fee may apply.)
Apply by mail. Please include all of the following:
- Your tab renewal notice
- A copy of your military orders
- A check or money order for the tab renewal fees
You can mail your application to any vehicle licensing office in Washington state.
Washington sales tax
You may be exempt from paying WA sales or use tax if you buy a vehicle while you're stationed in another state. For details, see vehicle tax exemptions for military personnel.
Related laws and rules
The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) has Washington state laws that apply to vehicle and boat registration for military personnel stationed outside the state. Read more: