Congratulations – you’re on your way to obtaining your Washington State Driver’s License!
Take a deep breath – because of the multiple steps and the long lines that are often unavoidable at the Department of Motor Vehicles, this process takes time and patience but it worth it in the end.
There are three things to consider before getting your license. First, you will need to be added to your host families car insurance before you can drive. Make sure to keep your insurance card in your wallet. Second, you’ll need a Social Security number which you can obtain at a Social Security office 14 days after your arrival in the US. Third, if you have an international license, you can legally drive in Washington State for up to 1 year. However, for safety reasons, I recommend all au pairs get their Washington State drivers license if they will be driving for their family. The host families insurance will likely require it.
Here’s an overview of the process to get your driver’s license:
- Pre-apply for your license on-line to get the confirmation ID or pic number
- Study the drivers guide for Washington State as well as information for the knowledge test and driving test (If you are from British Columbia, Germany, South Korea, Taiwan, or Japan – you do not need to take the tests and can skip steps 2-4)
- Bring your confirmation ID or pic number (from pre-applying) to a training and testing center (these are independent from the drivers licensing office). Call ahead to a few testing centers to get the best price and availability for a written and driving appointment in the same day.
- Pass the knowledge and driving test at a training and testing location
- Visit a local licensing office (see list below) to finish the process and get your license
Here’s a list of the local licensing offices:
- Seattle: 205 Spring Street (downtown) 8830 25th Ave SW (west)
- Bellevue: 13133 Bel-Red Road, Bellevue
- Lynnwood (north of Seattle): 18023 Hwy 99 Ste. E, Lynnwood
- Everett (further north): 5315 Evergreen Way, Everett
- Renton (south of Seattle): 1314 Union Avenue, Renton
You’ll need to bring these items with you to the Drivers Licensing office:
- Proof of your identify: Two A-list documents such as your foreign driver’s license, visa, and passport.
- Social Security number
- Your address (ideally an official document stating your address such as a document from the bank or from Au Pair International
- Cash for payment (bring $100 – you won’t need it all)
A few tips to make the final step of visiting a local licensing office go smoothly:
- As soon as you walk in the door, speak with the representative at the welcome counter and take a number (see the ‘Take a Number Here’ sign in the photo below); wait in line for your number to show up on the screen and be called over the loud speaker:
2. Arrive as soon as the licensing center opens for the shortest wait time
3. Have patience and you’ll get your first Washington State license – congratulations!