License plates

Orca license plate

Looking for an easy way to help wildlife in Washington? There are two types of specialized license plates that support wildlife conservation and management activities in the state:

  • The money that comes from the sale of personalized license plates is, by law, directed to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) for the management of wildlife that are not hunted, fished, or trapped.
  • Six special design license plates featuring some of the state’s most recognizable fish and wildlife species contribute directly to improving management for those and other species in Washington.

To purchase a specialized license plate, visit the Washington Department of Licensing.

Personalized license plates

For more than 40 years, the sale of personalized license plates has been the primary source of funding for the management of non-game wildlife, including peregrine falcons, pygmy rabbits, and killer whales.

Personalized plates can be purchased through the Washington Department of Licensing and carry an initial fee and renewal fee that varies by location and type of vehicle.

Eagle license plate

A portion of those fees – $2 from each plate purchased – supports the care and rehabilitation of sick, injured or orphaned wildlife.

In addition, $10 per personalized license plate helps fund the management and conservation of wolves in Washington. These funds support activities such as monitoring wolves, preventing wolf-livestock conflicts, and compensating livestock owners for losses from wolf kills.

The remaining revenues help fund the management of more than 250 non-game animals that are off-limits to hunting, fishing, or trapping. Some of these species are classified as threatened or endangered.

To manage Washington's wildlife resources, WDFW conducts surveys and research, evaluates the health of wildlife populations, protects key habitat and supports native species in other ways.

Fish and wildlife license plate backgrounds

License plates that feature a steelhead, bald eagle, killer whale, deer, elk or black bear are a great way to show support for Washington wildlife.

Purchasing these plates not only expresses an appreciation for native wildlife, but also helps to fund wildlife viewing, game management and the recovery of protected species.

Steelhead license plate

Fish and wildlife plates can be purchased through the Washington Department of Licensing and carry an initial fee and renewal fee that varies by location and type of vehicle.

A portion of the fees collected, $28 per plate, supports specific wildlife activities depending on which background is selected.

For example, sales of the endangered wildlife plate, which features a killer whale, are used specifically for the recovery of Washington's threatened and endangered species. A variety of recovery efforts – including sage grouse reintroductions and sea otter population surveys – are funded by plate sales. Revenue from the steelhead license plate supports activities critical to conserving populations of native steelhead.

Wildlife viewing activities, such as the development of wildlife watching trails and webcams, benefit each time a Washington resident buys a wildlife watching plate, which sports a bald eagle as the background.

WDFW uses fees collected through sales of game management plates – displaying a deer, elk or black bear – to manage game animals in Washington. Management activities include improvement of public access opportunities as well as wildlife population monitoring.

How to purchase

You can purchase personalized and wildlife background license plates through the Department of Licensing.

You are required to obtain or purchase a Discover Pass or Vehicle Access Pass to park on and use WDFW lands and facilities. Please note that wildlife license plates do not exempt users from this requirement.

There is a three-step process to buy either type of wildlife license plate:

For personalized plates

  1. Make sure your desired plate is available using the licensing search tool.
  2. Complete a personalized license plate application form.
  3. Submit your application and fees by mail to:

    Special Plate Unit, Department of Licensing
    P.O. Box 9909
    Olympia, WA 98507-8500.

    Or submit in person and pay the required fees at the King County Auditor's Office.

For wildlife background plates

  1. Complete an application for a special background license plate and select a wildlife-themed background.
  2. Contact a vehicle licensing office for a summary of the plate's costs, including fees specific to the vehicle's make and model and the county in which you live.
  3. Submit your application and fees in-person or by mail to any vehicle licensing office.