How to Get a Temporary License Plate in Washington

If you bought a car out of state, you may need to apply for temporary Washington license plates.
Written by Sean Boehme
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Mar 23, 2023
If you buy a car from an out-of-state dealer in Washington, you may be eligible to receive a temporary license plate. Unfortunately, many people take advantage of this system by creating fraudulent license plates.
Whether it’s brand new or on the older side, buying a new car is exciting. What’s not as exciting is registering a car, especially if you have to wait for your dealer to provide a title or any other crucial documents.
For a breakdown of when and how you can obtain a temporary license in Washington, stick around and read our guide. At the end, we'll also show you the fastest way to find affordable
car insurance
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Does Washington issue temporary license plates?

Yes, Washington
issues a temporary permit
along with temporary cardboard plates to drivers in certain situations. These cardboard plates are generally valid for up to sixty days, although Washington may be willing to extend that period depending on the case. 

What’s the problem with temporary Washington license plates?

Like most states, Washington has to be very cautious about providing temporary license plates. Some people create false temporary plates to avoid paying traffic violation fees or use them to commit more serious crimes. 
Some people living in Washington also utilize fraudulent plates to avoid paying state taxes. To dissuade people from doing this, Washington has implemented a $1,500 fine for failing to properly register a vehicle.

How to get a temporary license plate in Washington

The only way to obtain a legitimate temporary license plate in Washinton is to apply for one at a Washington vehicle licensing office. Assuming your application is approved, they will generate a permit and provide you with the cardboard plates.
You’ll be able to apply for temporary plates if you buy a vehicle from an out-of-state dealership that is not yet registered in Washington. The state expects the documents needed to properly register the vehicle to be available within 60 days.
If you need to replace your cardboard license plates at any point, you can do so at a Washington vehicle licensing office.

Registration fees in Washington

Tax, title, and license fees are due once the state of Washington grants your temporary registration. However, the fee for the license plate itself won’t be due until you clear the temporary designation and receive your permanent plates. 
The base license plate fee is $43.50, although you’re likely to pay more than that. Residents of
must pay an additional $80 to register their vehicle, while those living in either
must pay $20 more.
The size of your car will also determine how much you pay to register, with heavier vehicles costing more.

Can I drive a car without plates if I just bought it in Washington?

You should never drive a car without plates in Washington, and most in-state dealers should be able to register your car at the dealership. If you only need to get a new car home, you can consider applying for a
three-day trip permit

How to find affordable car insurance in Washington

Registration isn’t the only thing you need to worry about when buying a car in Washington. A new car requires
car insurance
, and the best way to save on coverage is to download the Jerry app.
, finding cheap car insurance coverage will only take you a few minutes. The app will compare the rates from over 50 of the top insurers. Then, we’ll present you with the most affordable quotes.
Most Jerry users save over $800 each year on car insurance.
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