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State
Washington
46.16 RCW Vehicle licenses






Chapter 46.16 RCW
Vehicle licenses


Notes:
Auto transportation companies: Chapter 81.68 RCW.
Free license plates
disabled veterans, prisoners of war: RCW 73.04.110.
surviving spouse of prisoner of war: RCW 73.04.115.

Rental cars: RCW 46.87.023.

Special license plates -- Fee -- Hulk haulers or scrap processors: RCW 46.79.060.

Unprocessed agricultural products, license for transport: RCW 20.01.120.




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46.16.006
"Registration year" defined Registration months "Last day of the month."
(1) The term "registration year" for the purposes of chapters 46.16, 82.44, and 82.50 RCW means the effective period of a vehicle license issued by the department. Such year commences at 12:01 a.m. on the date of the calendar year designated by the department and ends at 12:01 a.m. on the same date of the next succeeding calendar year. If a vehicle license previously issued in this state has expired and is renewed with a different registered owner, a new registration year is deemed to commence upon the date the expired license is renewed in order that the renewed license be useable for a full twelve-month period.

(2) Each registration year may be divided into twelve registration months. Each registration month commences on the day numerically corresponding to the day of the calendar month on which the registration year begins, and terminates on the numerically corresponding day of the next succeeding calendar month.

(3) Where the term "last day of the month" is used in chapters 46.16, 82.44, and 82.50 RCW in lieu of a specified day of any calendar month it means the last day of such calendar month or months irrespective of the numerical designation of that day.

(4) If the final day of a registration year or month falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, such period extends through the end of the next business day.


[1992 c 222 1; 1983 c 27 1; 1981 c 214 1; 1975 1st ex.s. c 118 1.]

Notes: Effective date -- 1975 1st ex.s. c 118: "This 1975 amendatory act shall take effect on January 1, 1977: PROVIDED, That the director of the department of motor vehicles may, prior to such effective date, undertake and perform duties and conduct activities necessary for the timely implementation of this 1975 amendatory act on such date." [1975 1st ex.s. c 118 19.]

Severability -- 1975 1st ex.s. c 118: "If any provision of this 1975 amendatory act is declared unconstitutional, or the applicability thereof to any person or circumstances is held invalid, the constitutionality of the remainder of this 1975 amendatory act and the applicability thereof to persons and circumstances shall not be affected thereby." [1975 1st ex.s. c 118 18.]







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46.16.010
Licenses and plates required Penalties Exceptions.
(1) It is unlawful for a person to operate any vehicle over and along a public highway of this state without first having obtained and having in full force and effect a current and proper vehicle license and display vehicle license number plates therefor as by this chapter provided.

(2) Failure to make initial registration before operation on the highways of this state is a traffic infraction, and any person committing this infraction shall pay a penalty of five hundred twenty-nine dollars, no part of which may be suspended or deferred.

(3) Failure to renew an expired registration before operation on the highways of this state is a traffic infraction.

(4) The licensing of a vehicle in another state by a resident of this state, as defined in RCW 46.16.028, evading the payment of any tax or license fee imposed in connection with registration, is a gross misdemeanor punishable as follows:

(a) For a first offense, up to one year in the county jail and payment of a fine of five hundred twenty-nine dollars plus twice the amount of delinquent taxes and fees, no part of which may be suspended or deferred;

(b) For a second or subsequent offense, up to one year in the county jail and payment of a fine of five hundred twenty-nine dollars plus four times the amount of delinquent taxes and fees, no part of which may be suspended or deferred;

(c) For fines levied under (b) of this subsection, an amount equal to the avoided taxes and fees owed will be deposited in the vehicle licensing fraud account created in the state treasury;

(d) The avoided taxes and fees shall be deposited and distributed in the same manner as if the taxes and fees were properly paid in a timely fashion.

(5) These provisions shall not apply to the following vehicles:

(a) Motorized foot scooters;

(b) Electric-assisted bicycles;

(c) Off-road vehicles operating on nonhighway roads under RCW 46.09.115;

(d) Farm vehicles if operated within a radius of fifteen miles of the farm where principally used or garaged, farm tractors and farm implements including trailers designed as cook or bunk houses used exclusively for animal herding temporarily operating or drawn upon the public highways, and trailers used exclusively to transport farm implements from one farm to another during the daylight hours or at night when such equipment has lights that comply with the law;

(e) Spray or fertilizer applicator rigs designed and used exclusively for spraying or fertilization in the conduct of agricultural operations and not primarily for the purpose of transportation, and nurse rigs or equipment auxiliary to the use of and designed or modified for the fueling, repairing, or loading of spray and fertilizer applicator rigs and not used, designed, or modified primarily for the purpose of transportation;

(f) Fork lifts operated during daylight hours on public highways adjacent to and within five hundred feet of the warehouses which they serve: PROVIDED FURTHER, That these provisions shall not apply to vehicles used by the state parks and recreation commission exclusively for park maintenance and operations upon public highways within state parks;

(g) "Trams" used for transporting persons to and from facilities related to the horse racing industry as regulated in chapter 67.16 RCW, as long as the public right-of-way routes over which the trams operate are not more than one mile from end to end, the public rights-of-way over which the tram operates have an average daily traffic of not more than 15,000 vehicles per day, and the activity is in conformity with federal law. The operator must be a licensed driver and at least eighteen years old. For the purposes of this section, "tram" also means a vehicle, or combination of vehicles linked together with a single mode of propulsion, used to transport persons from one location to another;

(h) "Special highway construction equipment" defined as follows: Any vehicle which is designed and used primarily for grading of highways, paving of highways, earth moving, and other construction work on highways and which is not designed or used primarily for the transportation of persons or property on a public highway and which is only incidentally operated or moved over the highway. It includes, but is not limited to, road construction and maintenance machinery so designed and used such as portable air compressors, air drills, asphalt spreaders, bituminous mixers, bucket loaders, track laying tractors, ditchers, leveling graders, finishing machines, motor graders, paving mixers, road rollers, scarifiers, earth moving scrapers and carryalls, lighting plants, welders, pumps, power shovels and draglines, self-propelled and tractor-drawn earth moving equipment and machinery, including dump trucks and tractor-dump trailer combinations which either (i) are in excess of the legal width, or (ii) which, because of their length, height, or unladen weight, may not be moved on a public highway without the permit specified in RCW 46.44.090 and which are not operated laden except within the boundaries of the project limits as defined by the contract, and other similar types of construction equipment, or (iii) which are driven or moved upon a public highway only for the purpose of crossing such highway from one property to another, provided such movement does not exceed five hundred feet and the vehicle is equipped with wheels or pads which will not damage the roadway surface.

Exclusions:

"Special highway construction equipment" does not include any of the following:

Dump trucks originally designed to comply with the legal size and weight provisions of this code notwithstanding any subsequent modification which would require a permit, as specified in RCW 46.44.090, to operate such vehicles on a public highway, including trailers, truck-mounted transit mixers, cranes and shovels, or other vehicles designed for the transportation of persons or property to which machinery has been attached.

(6) The following vehicles, whether operated solo or in combination, are exempt from license registration and displaying license plates as required by this chapter:

(a) A converter gear used to convert a semitrailer into a trailer or a two-axle truck or tractor into a three or more axle truck or tractor or used in any other manner to increase the number of axles of a vehicle. Converter gear includes an auxiliary axle, booster axle, dolly, and jeep axle.

(b) A tow dolly that is used for towing a motor vehicle behind another motor vehicle. The front or rear wheels of the towed vehicle are secured to and rest on the tow dolly that is attached to the towing vehicle by a tow bar.

(7)(a) A motor vehicle subject to initial or renewal registration under this section shall not be registered to a natural person unless the person at time of application:

(i) Presents an unexpired Washington state driver's license; or

(ii) Certifies that he or she is:

(A) A Washington resident who does not operate a motor vehicle on public roads; or

(B) Exempt from the requirement to obtain a Washington state driver's license under RCW 46.20.025.

(b) For shared or joint ownership, the department will set up procedures to verify that all owners meet the requirements of this subsection.

(c) A person falsifying residency is guilty of a gross misdemeanor punishable only by a fine of five hundred twenty-nine dollars.

(d) The department may adopt rules necessary to implement this subsection, including rules under which a natural person applying for registration may be exempt from the requirements of this subsection where the person provides evidence satisfactory to the department that he or she has a valid and compelling reason for not being able to meet the requirements of this subsection.


[2005 c 350 1; 2005 c 323 2; 2005 c 213 6. Prior: 2003 c 353 8; 2003 c 53 238; 2000 c 229 1; 1999 c 277 4; prior: 1997 c 328 2; 1997 c 241 13; 1996 c 184 1; 1993 c 238 1; 1991 c 163 1; 1989 c 192 2; 1986 c 186 1; 1977 ex.s. c 148 1; 1973 1st ex.s. c 17 2; 1972 ex.s. c 5 2; 1969 c 27 3; 1967 c 202 2; 1963 ex.s. c 3 51; 1961 ex.s. c 21 32; 1961 c 12 46.16.010; prior: 1955 c 265 1; 1947 c 33 1; 1937 c 188 15; Rem. Supp. 1947 6312-15; 1929 c 99 5; RRS 6324.]

Notes:Rules of court: Monetary penalty schedule -- IRLJ 6.2.

Reviser's note: This section was amended by 2005 c 213 6, 2005 c 323 2, and by 2005 c 350 1, each without reference to the other. All amendments are incorporated in the publication of this section under RCW 1.12.025(2). For rule of construction, see RCW 1.12.025(1).


Effective date -- 2005 c 350: "This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and takes effect immediately [May 9, 2005]." [2005 c 350 2.]


Declaration and intent--2005 c 323: "When a person establishes residency in this state, unless otherwise exempt by statute, the person must register any vehicles to be operated on public highways, and pay all required licensing fees and taxes. Washington residents must renew vehicle registrations annually as well. The intent of this act is to increase the monetary penalties associated with failure to properly register vehicles in the state of Washington." [2005 c 323 1.]


Effective date -- 2005 c 323: "This act takes effect August 1, 2005." [2005 c 323 4.]


Application -- 2005 c 323: "This act applies to registrations due or to become due on or after January 1, 2006." [2005 c 323 5.]


Findings--Construction--Effective date -- 2005 c 213: See notes following RCW 46.09.010.


Effective date -- 2003 c 353: See note following RCW 46.04.320.


Intent -- Effective date -- 2003 c 53: See notes following RCW 2.48.180.


Effective date -- 2000 c 229: "This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and takes effect immediately [March 30, 2000]." [2000 c 229 9.]


Effective date -- 1996 c 184 1-6: "Sections 1 through 6 of this act take effect January 1, 1997." [1996 c 184 8.]


Legislative intent -- 1989 c 192: "The legislature recognizes that there are residents of this state who intentionally register motor vehicles in other states to evade payment of taxes and fees required by the laws of this state. This results in a substantial loss of revenue to the state. It is the intent of the legislature to impose a stronger criminal penalty upon those residents who defraud the state, thereby enhancing compliance with the registration laws of this state and further enhancing enforcement and collection efforts.

In order to encourage voluntary compliance with the registration laws of this state, administrative penalties associated with failing to register a motor vehicle are waived until September 1, 1989. It is not the intent of the legislature to waive traffic infraction or criminal traffic violations imposed prior to July 23, 1989." [1989 c 192 1.]


Effective date -- 1989 c 192 2: "Section 2 of this act shall take effect September 1, 1989." [1989 c 192 3.]







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46.16.0105
Exemption Vehicles in national recreation areas.
After initial vehicle registration, motor vehicles operated solely within a national recreation area that is not accessible by a state highway are exempt from annual registration renewal and the associated fees under RCW 46.16.0621.


[2005 c 79 1.]




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46.16.011
Allowing unauthorized person to drive Penalty.
It is unlawful for any person in whose name a vehicle is registered knowingly to permit another person to drive the vehicle when the other person is not authorized to do so under the laws of this state. A violation of this section is a misdemeanor.


[1987 c 388 10.]

Notes: Severability -- 1987 c 388: See note following RCW 46.20.342.

Allowing unauthorized child to drive: RCW 46.20.024.






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46.16.012
Immunity from liability for licensing nonroadworthy vehicle.
The director, the state of Washington, and its political subdivisions shall be immune from civil liability arising from the issuance of a vehicle license to a nonroadworthy vehicle.


[1986 c 186 5.]




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46.16.015
Emission control inspections required Exceptions Educational information.
(1) Neither the department of licensing nor its agents may issue or renew a motor vehicle license for any vehicle or change the registered owner of a licensed vehicle, for any vehicle that is required to be inspected under chapter 70.120 RCW, unless the application for issuance or renewal is: (a) Accompanied by a valid certificate of compliance or a valid certificate of acceptance issued pursuant to chapter 70.120 RCW; or (b) exempted from this requirement pursuant to subsection (2) of this section. The certificates must have a date of validation which is within six months of the date of application for the vehicle license or license renewal. Certificates for fleet or owner tested diesel vehicles may have a date of validation which is within twelve months of the assigned license renewal date.

(2) Subsection (1) of this section does not apply to the following vehicles:

(a) New motor vehicles whose equitable or legal title has never been transferred to a person who in good faith purchases the vehicle for purposes other than resale;

(b) Motor vehicles with a model year of 1967 or earlier;

(c) Motor vehicles that use propulsion units powered exclusively by electricity;

(d) Motor vehicles fueled by propane, compressed natural gas, or liquid petroleum gas, unless it is determined that federal sanctions will be imposed as a result of this exemption;

(e) Motorcycles as defined in RCW 46.04.330 and motor-driven cycles as defined in RCW 46.04.332;

(f) Farm vehicles as defined in RCW 46.04.181;

(g) Used vehicles which are offered for sale by a motor vehicle dealer licensed under chapter 46.70 RCW;

(h) Classes of motor vehicles exempted by the director of the department of ecology;

(i) Collector cars as identified by the department of licensing under RCW 46.16.305(1);

(j) Beginning January 1, 2000, vehicles that are less than five years old or more than twenty-five years old; or

(k) Hybrid motor vehicles that obtain a rating by the environmental protection agency of at least fifty miles per gallon of gas during city driving. For purposes of this section, a hybrid motor vehicle is one that uses propulsion units powered by both electricity and gas.

The provisions of (a) of this subsection may not be construed as exempting from the provisions of subsection (1) of this section applications for the renewal of licenses for motor vehicles that are or have been leased.

(3) The department of ecology shall provide information to motor vehicle owners regarding the boundaries of emission contributing areas and restrictions established under this section that apply to vehicles registered in such areas. In addition the department of ecology shall provide information to motor vehicle owners on the relationship between motor vehicles and air pollution and steps motor vehicle owners should take to reduce motor vehicle related air pollution. The department of licensing shall send to all registered motor vehicle owners affected by the emission testing program notice that they must have an emission test to renew their registration.


[2002 c 24 1; 1998 c 342 6; 1991 c 199 209; 1990 c 42 318; 1989 c 240 1; 1985 c 7 111. Prior: 1983 c 238 1; 1983 c 237 3; 1980 c 176 1; 1979 ex.s. c 163 11.]

Notes: Finding -- 1991 c 199: See note following RCW 70.94.011.

Effective dates -- Severability -- Captions not law -- 1991 c 199: See RCW 70.94.904 through 70.94.906.


Purpose -- Headings -- Severability -- Effective dates -- Application -- Implementation -- 1990 c 42: See notes following RCW 82.36.025.


Effective date -- 1989 c 240: See RCW 70.120.902.


Severability -- 1983 c 238: "If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected." [1983 c 238 3.]


Legislative finding -- 1983 c 237: See note following RCW 46.37.467.


Effective date -- 1979 ex.s. c 163 11: "Section 11 of this act shall take effect on January 1, 1982. The director of the department of licensing and the director of the department of ecology are authorized to take immediately such steps as are necessary to ensure that section 11 of this act is implemented on its effective date." [1979 ex.s. c 163 16.]


Severability -- 1979 ex.s. c 163: See note following RCW 70.120.010.







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46.16.016
Emission control inspections Rules for licensing requirements.
The director of the department of licensing shall adopt rules implementing and enforcing RCW 46.16.015, except for *RCW 46.16.015(2)(g) in accordance with chapter 34.05 RCW.


[1979 ex.s. c 163 15.]

Notes: *Reviser's note: RCW 46.16.015 was amended by 1991 c 199 209, changing subsection (2)(g) to subsection (2)(f).

Severability -- 1979 ex.s. c 163: See note following RCW 70.120.010.







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46.16.017
Emission standards Compliance required to register, lease, rent, or sell vehicles Exemptions.
After adoption of rules specified in RCW 70.120A.010, no vehicle shall be registered, leased, rented, or sold for use in the state starting with the model year as provided in RCW 70.120A.010 unless the vehicle: (1)(a) Is consistent with the vehicle emission standards as adopted by the department of ecology; (b) is consistent with the carbon dioxide equivalent emission standards as adopted by the department of ecology; and (c) has a California certification label for (i) all emission standards, and (ii) carbon dioxide equivalent emission standards necessary to meet fleet average requirements; or (2) has seven thousand five hundred miles or more. The department of licensing, in consultation with the department of ecology, may adopt rules necessary to implement this section and may provide for reasonable exemptions to these requirements. The department of ecology may exempt public safety vehicles from meeting the standards where the department finds that vehicles necessary to meet the needs of public safety agencies are not otherwise reasonably available.


[2005 c 295 7.]

Notes: Effective date -- 2005 c 295 1, 2, 7, and 11-13: See note following RCW 70.120A.010.






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46.16.020
Exemptions State and publicly owned vehicles Registration.
Any vehicle owned, rented, or leased by the state of Washington, or by any county, city, town, school district, or other political subdivision of the state of Washington and used exclusively by them, and all vehicles owned or leased with an option to purchase by the United States government, or by the government of foreign countries, or by international bodies to which the United States government is a signatory by treaty, or owned or leased by the governing body of an Indian tribe located within this state and recognized as a governmental entity by the United States department of the interior, and used exclusively in its or their service shall be exempt from the payment of license fees for the licensing thereof as in this chapter provided: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That such vehicles, except those owned and used exclusively by the United States government and which are identified by clearly exhibited registration numbers or license plates assigned by an instrumentality of that government, shall be registered as prescribed for the license registration of other vehicles and shall display the vehicle license number plates assigned to it. The department shall assign a plate or plates to each vehicle or may assign a block of plates to an agency or political subdivision for further assignment by the agency or political subdivision to individual vehicles registered to it pursuant to this section. The agency, political subdivision, or Indian tribe, except a foreign government or international body, shall pay a fee of two dollars for the plate or plates for each vehicle. An Indian tribe is not entitled to license and register any tribal government service vehicle under this section if that tribe itself licenses or registers any tribal government service vehicles under tribal law. No vehicle license or license number plates shall be issued to any such vehicle under the provisions of this section for the transportation of school children unless and until such vehicle shall have been first personally inspected by the director or the director's duly authorized representative.


[1986 c 30 1; 1975 1st ex.s. c 169 5; 1973 1st ex.s. c 132 22; 1967 c 32 14; 1965 ex.s. c 106 1; 1961 c 12 46.16.020. Prior: 1939 c 182 4; 1937 c 188 21; RRS 6312-21; 1925 ex.s. c 47 1; 1921 c 96 17; 1919 c 46 2; 1917 c 155 12; 1915 c 142 17; RRS 6329.]

Notes: Severability -- 1973 1st ex.s. c 132: See RCW 46.16.900, 46.70.920.

Marking of publicly owned vehicles: RCW 46.08.065 through 46.08.068.

Special license plates issued without fee
Congressional Medal of Honor recipients: RCW 46.16.305.
disabled veterans, prisoners of war: RCW 73.04.110.
surviving spouse of prisoner of war: RCW 73.04.115.






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46.16.022
Exemptions Vehicles owned by Indian tribes Conditions.
(1) The provisions of this chapter relating to licensing of vehicles by this state, including the display of vehicle license number plates and license registration certificates, do not apply to vehicles owned or leased by the governing body of an Indian tribe located within this state and recognized as a governmental entity by the United States department of the interior, only when:

(a) The vehicle is used exclusively in tribal government service; and

(b) The vehicle has been licensed and registered under a law adopted by such tribal government; and

(c) Vehicle license number plates issued by the tribe showing the initial or abbreviation of the name of the tribe are displayed on the vehicle substantially as provided therefor in this state; and

(d) The tribe has not elected to receive any Washington state license plates for tribal government service vehicles pursuant to RCW 46.16.020; and

(e) If required by the department, the tribe provides the department with vehicle description and ownership information similar to that required for vehicles registered in this state, which may include the model year, make, model series, body type, type of power (gasoline, diesel, or other), VIN, and the license plate number assigned to each government service vehicle licensed by that tribe.

(2) The provisions of this section are operative as to a vehicle owned or leased by an Indian tribe located within this state and used exclusively in tribal government service only to the extent that under the laws of the tribe like exemptions and privileges are granted to all vehicles duly licensed under the laws of this state for operation of such vehicles on all tribal roads within the tribe's reservation. If under the laws of the tribe, persons operating vehicles licensed by this state are required to pay a license or registration fee or to carry or display vehicle license number plates or a registration certificate issued by the tribe, the tribal government shall comply with the provisions of this state's laws relating to the licensing and registration of vehicles operating on the highways of this state.


[1986 c 30 2.]




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46.16.023
Ride-sharing vehicles Special plates Gross misdemeanor.
(1) Every owner or lessee of a vehicle seeking to apply for an excise tax exemption under RCW 82.08.0287, 82.12.0282, or 82.44.015 shall apply to the director for, and upon satisfactory showing of eligibility, receive in lieu of the regular motor vehicle license plates for that vehicle, special plates of a distinguishing separate numerical series or design, as the director shall prescribe. In addition to paying all other initial fees required by law, each applicant for the special license plates shall pay an additional license fee of twenty-five dollars upon the issuance of such plates. The special fee shall be deposited in the motor vehicle fund. Application for renewal of the license plates shall be as prescribed for the renewal of other vehicle licenses. No renewal is required for vehicles exempted under RCW 46.16.020.

(2) Whenever the ownership of a vehicle receiving special plates under subsection (1) of this section is transferred or assigned, the plates shall be removed from the motor vehicle, and if another vehicle qualifying for special plates is acquired, the plates shall be transferred to that vehicle for a fee of ten dollars, and the director shall be immediately notified of the transfer of the plates. Otherwise the removed plates shall be immediately forwarded to the director to be canceled. Whenever the owner or lessee of a vehicle receiving special plates under subsection (1) of this section is for any reason relieved of the tax-exempt status, the special plates shall immediately be forwarded to the director along with an application for replacement plates and the required fee. Upon receipt the director shall issue the license plates that are otherwise provided by law.

(3) Any person who knowingly makes any false statement of a material fact in the application for a special plate under subsection (1) of this section is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.


[2004 c 223 2; 1993 c 488 5; 1987 c 175 2.]

Notes: Finding -- Annual recertification rule -- Report -- 1993 c 488: See notes following RCW 82.08.0287.

Effective date -- 1987 c 175 2: "Section 2 of this act shall take effect on January 1, 1988." [1987 c 175 4.]







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46.16.025
Identification device for exempt farm vehicles Application for Contents Fee.
Before any "farm vehicle", as defined in RCW 46.04.181, shall operate on or move along a public highway, there shall be displayed upon it in a conspicuous manner a decal or other device, as may be prescribed by the director of licensing and issued by the department of licensing, which shall describe in some manner the vehicle and identify it as a vehicle exempt from the licensing requirements of this chapter. Application for such identifying devices shall be made to the department on a form furnished for that purpose by the director. Such application shall be made by the owner or lessee of the vehicle, or his duly authorized agent over the signature of such owner or agent, and he shall certify that the statements therein are true to the best of his knowledge. The application must show:

(1) The name and address of the owner of the vehicle;

(2) The trade name of the vehicle, model, year, type of body, the motor number or the identification number thereof if such vehicle be a motor vehicle, or the serial number thereof if such vehicle be a trailer;

(3) The purpose for which said vehicle is to be principally used;

(4) Such other information as shall be required upon such application by the director; and

(5) Place where farm vehicle is principally used or garaged.

A fee of five dollars shall be charged for and submitted with such application for an identification decal as in this section provided as to each farm vehicle which fee shall be deposited in the motor vehicle fund and distributed proportionately as otherwise provided for vehicle license fees under RCW 46.68.030. Only one application need be made as to each such vehicle, and the status as an exempt vehicle shall continue until suspended or revoked for misuse, or when such vehicle no longer is used as a farm vehicle.


[1979 c 158 139; 1967 c 202 3.]




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46.16.028
"Resident" defined Vehicle registration required.
(1) For the purposes of vehicle license registration, a resident is a person who manifests an intent to live or be located in this state on more than a temporary or transient basis. Evidence of residency includes but is not limited to:

(a) Becoming a registered voter in this state; or

(b) Receiving benefits under one of the Washington public assistance programs; or

(c) Declaring that he or she is a resident for the purpose of obtaining a state license or tuition fees at resident rates.

(2) The term "Washington public assistance programs" referred to in subsection (1)(b) of this section includes only public assistance programs for which more than fifty percent of the combined costs of benefits and administration are paid from state funds. Programs which are not included within the term "Washington public assistance programs" pursuant to the above criteria include, but are not limited to the food stamp program under the federal food stamp act of 1964; programs under the child nutrition act of 1966, 42 U.S.C. Secs. 1771 through 1788; and temporary assistance for needy families.

(3) A resident of the state shall register under chapters 46.12 and 46.16 RCW a vehicle to be operated on the highways of the state. New Washington residents shall be allowed thirty days from the date they become residents as defined in this section to procure Washington registration for their vehicles. This thirty-day period shall not be combined with any other period of reciprocity provided for in this chapter or chapter 46.85 RCW.


[1997 c 59 7; 1987 c 142 1; 1986 c 186 2; 1985 c 353 1.]

Notes: Effective date -- 1985 c 353: "This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, and safety, the support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and shall take effect immediately, except for section 1 of this act, which shall take effect September 1, 1985." [1985 c 353 6.]






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46.16.029
Purchasing vehicle with foreign plates.
It is unlawful to purchase a vehicle bearing foreign license plates without removing and destroying the plates unless (1) the out-of-state vehicle is sold to a Washington resident by a resident of a jurisdiction where the license plates follow the owner or (2) the out-of-state plates may be returned to the jurisdiction of issuance by the owner for refund purposes or (3) for such other reasons as the department may deem appropriate by rule.


[1987 c 142 2.]




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46.16.030
Nonresident exemption Reciprocity.
Except as is herein provided for foreign businesses, the provisions relative to the licensing of vehicles and display of vehicle license number plates and license registration certificates shall not apply to any vehicles owned by nonresidents of this state if the owner thereof has complied with the law requiring the licensing of vehicles in the names of the owners thereof in force in the state, foreign country, territory or federal district of his or her residence; and the vehicle license number plate showing the initial or abbreviation of the name of such state, foreign country, territory or federal district, is displayed on such vehicle substantially as is provided therefor in this state. The provisions of this section shall be operative as to a vehicle owned by a nonresident of this state only to the extent that under the laws of the state, foreign country, territory or federal district of his or her residence, like exemptions and privileges are granted to vehicles duly licensed under the laws of and owned by residents of this state. If under the laws of such state, foreign country, territory or federal district, vehicles owned by residents of this state, operating upon the highways of such state, foreign country, territory or federal district, are required to pay the license fee and carry the vehicle license number plates of such state, foreign country, territory or federal district, the vehicles owned by residents of such state, foreign country, territory or federal district, and operating upon the highways of this state, shall comply with the provisions of this state relating to the licensing of vehicles. Foreign businesses owning, maintaining, or operating places of business in this state and using vehicles in connection with such places of business, shall comply with the provisions relating to the licensing of vehicles insofar as vehicles used in connection with such places of business are concerned. Under provisions of the international registration plan, the nonmotor vehicles of member and nonmember jurisdictions which are properly based and licensed in such jurisdictions are granted reciprocity in this state as provided in *RCW 46.87.070(2). The director is empowered to make and enforce rules and regulations for the licensing of nonresident vehicles upon a reciprocal basis and with respect to any character or class of operation.


[1991 c 163 2; 1990 c 42 110; 1967 c 32 15; 1961 c 12 46.16.030. Prior: 1937 c 188 23; RRS 6312-23; 1931 c 120 1; 1929 c 99 4; 1921 c 96 11; 1919 c 59 6; 1917 c 155 7; 1915 c 142 11; RRS 6322.]

Notes: *Reviser's note: RCW 46.87.070 was amended by 2005 c 194 5, deleting subsection (1). The language from subsection (2) remains.

Purpose -- Headings -- Severability -- Effective dates -- Application -- Implementation -- 1990 c 42: See notes following RCW 82.36.025.







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46.16.035
Exemptions Private school buses.
Any bus or vehicle owned and operated by a private school or schools meeting the requirements of RCW 28A.195.010 and used by that school or schools primarily to transport children to and from school or to transport children in connection with school activities shall be exempt from the payment of license fees for the licensing thereof as in this chapter provided. A license issued by the department for such bus or vehicle shall be considered an exempt license under RCW 82.44.010.


[1990 c 33 584; 1980 c 88 1.]

Notes: Purpose -- Statutory references -- Severability -- 1990 c 33: See RCW 28A.900.100 through 28A.900.102.






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46.16.040
Form of application Contents.
Application for original vehicle license shall be made on [a] form furnished for the purpose by the department. Such application shall be made by the owner of the vehicle or duly authorized agent over the signature of such owner or agent, and the applicant shall certify that the statements therein are true to the best of the applicant's knowledge. The application must show:

(1) Name and address of the owner of the vehicle and, if the vehicle is subject to a security agreement, the name and address of the secured party;

(2) Trade name of the vehicle, model, year, type of body, the identification number thereof;

(3) The power to be used -- whether electric, steam, gas or other power;

(4) The purpose for which said vehicle is to be used and the nature of the license required;

(5) The licensed gross weight for such vehicle which in the case of for hire vehicles and auto stages with seating capacity of more than six shall be the adult seating capacity thereof, including the operator, as provided for in RCW 46.16.111. In the case of motor trucks, tractors, and truck tractors, the licensed gross weight shall be the gross weight declared by the applicant pursuant to the provisions of RCW 46.16.111;

(6) The unladen weight of such vehicle, if it be a motor truck or trailer, which shall be the shipping weight thereof as given by the manufacturer thereof unless another weight is shown by weight slip verified by a certified weighmaster, which slip shall be attached to the original application;

(7) Such other information as shall be required upon such application by the department.


[1987 c 244 2; 1975 c 25 15; 1969 ex.s. c 170 2. Prior: 1967 ex.s. c 83 59; 1967 c 32 16; 1961 c 12 46.16.040; prior: 1947 c 164 8; 1937 c 188 29; Rem. Supp. 1947 6312-29; 1921 c 96 5; 1919 c 178 1; 1919 c 59 4; 1915 c 142 5; RRS 6316.]

Notes: Severability -- Effective dates -- 1967 ex.s. c 83: See RCW 47.26.900 and 47.26.910.






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46.16.045
Temporary permits Authority Fees.
(1) The department in its discretion may grant a temporary permit to operate a vehicle for which application for registration has been made, where such application is accompanied by the proper fee pending action upon said application by the department.

(2) The department may authorize vehicle dealers properly licensed pursuant to chapter 46.70 RCW to issue temporary permits to operate vehicles under such rules and regulations as the department deems appropriate.

(3) The fee for each temporary permit application distributed to an authorized vehicle dealer shall be five dollars, which shall be credited to the payment of registration fees at the time application for registration is made.

(4) The payment of the registration fees to an authorized dealer is considered payment to the state of Washington.


[1990 c 198 1; 1973 1st ex.s. c 132 23; 1961 c 12 46.16.045. Prior: 1959 c 66 1.]

Notes: Severability -- 1973 1st ex.s. c 132: See RCW 46.16.900, 46.70.920.






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46.16.047
Temporary permits Form and contents Duration Fees.
Forms for such temporary permits shall be prescribed and furnished by the department. Temporary permits shall bear consecutive numbers, shall show the name and address of the applicant, trade name of the vehicle, model, year, type of body, identification number and date of application, and shall be such as may be affixed to the vehicle at the time of issuance, and remain on such vehicle only during the period of such registration and until the receipt of permanent license plates. The application shall be registered in the office of the person issuing the permit and shall be forwarded by him to the department each day together with the fee accompanying it.

A fee of fifty cents shall be charged by the person authorized to issue such permit which shall be accounted for in the same manner as the other fees collected by such officers, provided that such fees collected by county auditors or their agents shall be paid to the county treasurer in the same manner as other fees collected by the county auditor and credited to the county current expense fund.


[1961 c 12 46.16.047. Prior: 1959 c 66 2.]




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46.16.048
Temporary letter of authority for movement of unlicensed vehicle for special community event.
The department in its discretion may issue a temporary letter of authority authorizing the movement of an unlicensed vehicle or the temporary usage of a special plate for the purpose of promoting or participating in an event such as a parade, pageant, fair, convention, or other special community activity. The letter of authority may not be issued to or used by anyone for personal gain, but public identification of the sponsor or owner of the donated vehicle shall not be considered to be personal gain.


[1977 c 25 2.]




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46.16.0621
License fee.
(1) License tab fees are required to be $30 per year for motor vehicles, regardless of year, value, make, or model.

(2) For the purposes of this section, "license tab fees" are defined as the general fees paid annually for licensing motor vehicles and trailers as defined in RCW 46.04.620 and 46.04.623, including cars, sport utility vehicles, motorcycles, and motor homes. Trailers licensed under RCW 46.16.068 or 46.16.085 and campers licensed under RCW 46.16.505 are not required to pay license tab fees under this section.


[2003 c 1 2 (Initiative Measure No. 776, approved November 5, 2002); 2002 c 352 7; 2000 1st sp.s. c 1 1.]

Notes: Reviser's note: This section was amended by 2002 c 352 7 and by 2003 c 1 2 (Initiative Measure No. 776), each without reference to the other. Both amendments are incorporated in the publication of this section under RCW 1.12.025(2). For rule of construction, see RCW 1.12.025(1).

Severability -- Savings -- 2003 c 1 (Initiative Measure No. 776): See note following RCW 81.104.160.


Policies and purposes -- 2003 c 1 (Initiative Measure No. 776): "This measure would require license tab fees to be $30 per year for motor vehicles and light trucks and would repeal certain government-imposed charges, including excise taxes and fees, levied on motor vehicles. Politicians promised "$30 license tabs are here to stay" and promised any increases in vehicle-related taxes, fees and surcharges would be put to a public vote. Politicians should keep their promises. As long as taxpayers must pay incredibly high sales taxes when buying motor vehicles (meaning state and local governments receive huge windfalls of sales tax revenue from these transactions), the people want license tab fees to not exceed the promised $30 per year. Without this follow-up measure, "tab creep" will continue until license tab fees are once again obscenely expensive, as they were prior to Initiative 695. The people want a public vote on any increases in vehicle-related taxes, fees and surcharges to ensure increased accountability. Voters will require more cost-effective use of existing revenues and fundamental reforms before approving higher charges on motor vehicles (such changes may remove the need for any increases). Also, dramatic changes to transportation plans and programs previously presented to voters must be resubmitted. This measure provides a strong directive to all taxing districts to obtain voter approval before imposing taxes, fees and surcharges on motor vehicles. However, if the legislature ignores this clear message, a referendum will be filed to protect the voters' rights. Politicians should just do the right thing and keep their promises." [2003 c 1 1 (Initiative Measure No. 776, approved November 5, 2002).]


Construction -- 2003 c 1 (Initiative Measure No. 776): "The provisions of this act are to be liberally construed to effectuate the intent, policies, and purposes of this act." [2003 c 1 9 (Initiative Measure No. 776, approved November 5, 2002).]


Intent -- 2003 c 1 (Initiative Measure No. 776): "The people have made clear through the passage of numerous initiatives and referenda that taxes need to be reasonable and tax increases should always be a last resort. However, politicians throughout the state of Washington continue to ignore these repeated mandates.

The people expect politicians to keep their promises. The legislative intent of this measure is to ensure that they do.

Politicians are reminded:

(1) Washington voters want license tab fees to be $30 per year for motor vehicles unless voters authorize higher vehicle-related charges at an election.

(2) All political power is vested in the people, as stated in Article I, section 1 of the Washington state Constitution.

(3) The first power reserved by the people is the initiative, as stated in Article II, section 1 of the Washington state Constitution.

(4) When voters approve initiatives, politicians have a moral, ethical, and constitutional obligation to fully implement them. When politicians ignore this obligation, they corrupt the term "public servant."

(5) Any attempt to violate the clear intent and spirit of this measure undermines the trust of the people in their government and will increase the likelihood of future tax limitation measures." [2003 c 1 11 (Initiative Measure No. 776, approved November 5, 2002).]


Effective dates -- 2002 c 352: See note following RCW 46.09.070.


Effective date -- 2000 1st sp.s. c 1: "This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and takes effect immediately [March 31, 2000]." [2000 1st sp.s. c 1 3.]


Retroactive application -- 2000 1st sp.s. c 1: "This act applies retroactively to January 1, 2000." [2000 1st sp.s. c 1 4.]







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46.16.063
Additional fee for recreational vehicles.
In addition to other fees for the licensing of vehicles there shall be paid and collected annually for each camper, travel trailer, and motor home as the same are defined in RCW 82.50.010 a fee of three dollars to be deposited in the RV account of the motor vehicle fund. Under RCW 43.135.055, the department of transportation may increase RV account fees by a percentage that exceeds the fiscal growth factor. After consultation with citizen representatives of the recreational vehicle user community, the department of transportation may implement RV account fee adjustments no more than once every four years. RV account fee adjustments must be preceded by evaluation of the following factors: Maintenance of a self-supporting program, levels of service at existing RV sanitary disposal facilities, identified needs for improved RV service at safety rest areas statewide, sewage treatment costs, and inflation. If the department chooses to adjust the RV account fee, it shall notify the department of licensing six months before implementation of the fee increase. Adjustments in the RV account fee must be in increments of no more than fifty cents per biennium. (continued)