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Identity Documents for Washington Drivers' Licenses

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project LSC Funded
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This document explains the law about the type of identification documents that are needed to obtain a driver's license in Washington state.

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Sometimes there is confusion in the community about what documents you need to get a driver's license. This explains the law about identification documents you need in Washington State.

*To find out how to prove you live in Washington if you do not have a Social Security number, read How Do I Apply for a Drivers’ License if I Do not have a Social Security Number.

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's license or ID card from this state

  • an old driver’s license or identification 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 particular 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.

The most common examples of documents the department will accept include:

  • certified birth certificates

  • certain court papers

  • foreign passports or driver’s licenses

  • refugee relief placement packets

A second document must have your name and signature. Common examples include:

  • library, bank, credit and bus pass cards

  • the Mexican matriculate consular

  • medical coupons

  • cancelled checks

  • rent agreements

The other three documents you present must be from a list approved by the department.

If the Department of Licensing does not accept this identification, you can do one of these:

  1. If you only need a driver's license, you can get a license that is "not valid as identification."  It is legal to drive. You cannot use this license for ID.

  2. If you need ID and a driver's 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.

  3. The law says you must give your Social Security number to the Department of Licensing. If you do not have a Social Security number, How Do I Apply for a Drivers’ License if I Do not have a Social Security Number  has more on what to do.

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". One is provided in the pdf print version of this publication or you can ask your caseworker for the form. 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:

Wenatchee: 1-888-201-1021
Yakima:     1-888-201-1018

Wenatchee:  1-800-572-9615
Kennewick: 1-888-201-9735
Yakima:     1-800-631-1323



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 2018.

© 2018 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.)


Last Review and Update: Mar 06, 2018