Getting a License Plate Exemption

Need an license plate exemption? Not sure how to get one? We’ve got your answer.

Washington State law requires license plates to be attached conspicuously at the front and rear of each vehicle [if two license plates have been issued]; however, the law also allows for an exemption if it is impossible to affix the plate. According to RCW 46.16A.200, “The Washington state patrol may grant exceptions to this subsection if the body construction of the vehicle makes compliance with this section impossible.”

“Impossible” (as defined under Washington Administrative Code 308-56A-500) means that “. . . there was nothing made by the manufacturer (to include, but not limited to, a bracket or the bumper of the vehicle) for the originally manufactured vehicle which would allow the license plate to be affixed to the vehicle in the manner prescribed in RCW 46.16A.200.”

It is suggested the vehicle owner contact the manufacturer or a local dealership to inquire about a license plate bracket or way to affix the plate to your vehicle.  (It is our understanding there may also be many alternative solutions if the owner does not wish to use the bracket provided by the manufacturer or dealership.)  If there is a license plate bracket made for the vehicle or a way to affix the plate directly to the vehicle, allowing for the front license plate to be displayed, it is required to be installed on the vehicle.

If the manufacturer or dealership does not offer a license plate bracket or way to affix the plate to the vehicle, the owner can apply for a front license plate waiver.  Requests for a license plate waiver may be made in writing to:

Washington State Patrol
Equipment and Standards Review Unit
PO Box 42600
Olympia WA 98504-2600
Or via email to:  Equipment@wsp.wa.gov

The request must include the following vehicle information:

  • year
  • make
  • model
  • vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • license plate number
  • a picture of the portion of the vehicle for which the waiver is being requested
  • any additional information that would outline or support the request (e.g., reasons why the requester feels the vehicle should be exempt from the law)

It is important to note that the approval or denial of an exception request is based solely on the language in the statute with regard to whether or not the body construction of the vehicle makes compliance impossible – not a determination as to any impacts the installation of the plate may or may not have on the vehicle.  Once a request is received, the Washington State Patrol will research the ability for a license plate to be attached to the vehicle and send a letter with the decision.

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