Following up on Mike Buettell’s excellent article he published last year on California YOM plates, I wanted to talk about how to accomplish this in the state of Washington. I wasn’t sure that my state had such a program, but it turns out the RCW 46.18.220 provides for exactly this. The law is intended for the common “Collector Vehicle” plate you see on older cars here, but has an accommodation if you want to run period correct.
WARNING: For this to work, your car must have a ’67 title. If you’re running a ’67 body on a ’70s titled pan, this won’t work.
The first step is to procure the plate. I was able to find mine by searching eBay for “1967 Washington License”. Beware of ones from the District of Columbia! You’re looking for a white license plate with green letters, and it has “Washington” spelled out on the bottom in all capital letters. The Washington law doesn’t say that you need a 1967 registration tab on the plate, but I was fortunate to find a plate that did. You also don’t need to get two plates! When you have a collector vehicle status, the law only requires that you run a rear plate. This is a bonus, cause I’ve always hated front plates on cars.
Now, you need to collect your documentation. Your title is required (not your registration, your actual title!) as they’re going to re-title your car. It’s basically as if you’re selling it to yourself. You also need the Special License Plate Application filled out with your details. Don’t check any of the “collector plate” boxes at the bottom – they oddly don’t have one for restored plates.
The last thing you do when you receive your plate is bring it down to your friendly Department of Licensing office (or one of the sub-agents). I handed them the form, and showed them the plate. They’ll do some validation that you have the correct license plate for the year of the car, they’ll make you sign a few things, and they’ll take $75 from you. Super easy and painless, and you never have to mail in or give them the plate – you walk back out with it.
Go home, hang the plate on your car, and enjoy. In 6 to 8 weeks, you’ll get an updated title in the mail – your vintage license plate number is now listed in the “Equipment Code” of the car rather than the “License Plate” of the car. Lastly, you’ll never have to renew your tabs — it’s a one-shot deal: that $150 you spent on a restored license plate on eBay will pay for itself in the first two years of ownership!