Sometimes there is confusion in the community about what documents you need to get a driver license. This explains what identification documents you need in Washington State.
When you go to the Department of Licensing to get your license or identification card, you should take documents that prove your identity. The Department has three ways to prove your identity.
There are documents the Department must accept, if you have them. They are:
an old driver license or ID card from this state
an old driver license or ID card from another state
a U.S. military ID card
a U.S. passport with your photo and signature
a U.S. immigration form with your photo and signature
a U.S. or state government employee ID card
Do I need to have immigration documents to get a driver's license?
No. You can prove your identity using other documents. You can use a combination of documents, including one that lists your name and date of birth, and is a foreign passport, certain Native American tribes’ enrollment documents or Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) documents, verification letters from specified correctional authorities or Washington city or county police employee ID cards. You must also have two other documents that have your name and signature.
If you do not have any of these, you must take at least five documents that have your photo, signature, address and/or date of birth. One must have your name and date of birth.
What are some examples of documents with my name and date of birth that the Department will accept?
The most common examples are
certified birth certificates
certain court papers
foreign passports or driver licenses
refugee relief placement packets
What are some examples of other documents the Department will accept?
library, bank, credit and bus pass cards
the Mexican matriculate consular
The other three documents you present must be from a list approved by the department. See www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/idproof.html.
What if the Department of Licensing does not accept my documents?
If you only need a driver license, you can get a license that is "not valid as identification." It is legal to drive. You cannot use this license for ID.
If you need ID and a driver license, ask to have a supervisor in the office review your documents to see if they can establish your identity. If they still deny you a license or ID card, write the director of the Department of Licensing a letter.
The law says you must give your Social Security number to the Department of Licensing. If you do not have a Social Security number, read How Do I Apply for a Driver License if I Do not have a Social Security Number.
I get public assistance. I cannot afford a driver's license. What can I do?
Ask your DSHS caseworker to fill out form 16-029 "Request for Identicard". Take the completed form to DOL to get a Washington State Identification card for five dollars.
What if I have questions?
CLEAR: 1-888-201-1014 weekdays, 9:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
(to speak with a lawyer or legal assistant and get advice and/or referral for more assistance); or call one of our local offices:
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This publication provides general information concerning your rights and responsibilities. It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice. This information is current as of March 2019.
© 2019 Northwest Justice Project — 1-888-201-1014
(Permission for copying and distribution granted to the Alliance for Equal Justice and to individuals for non-commercial purposes only.)