Vehicle & Driver· VIN Inspections
What is a VIN?
"VIN" stands for Vehicle Identification Number. This number is a unique universal serial number issued to every vehicle by the vehicle manufacturer. Within the 17-digit number are codes that indicate the vehicle's make and model, where the vehicle was manufactured, a serial number, and even information about optional equipment.
Does the WSP do emissions testing as part of the VIN inspection?
No, emissions checks are not part of the VIN inspection program.
It is a separate program administered by the Department of Ecology.
What is a physical VIN inspection?
During an inspection, a vehicle is physically examined at a Washington State Patrol VIN inspection station to ensure it matches the documentation presented to the inspector and the Department of Licensing (DOL) during a title transaction. The actual VIN plate and sticker are also checked to make sure they are authentic and match the vehicle's documentation. The VIN is also checked against Washington State (WACIC) and federal (NCIC) stolen car databases. The VIN inspection is not for determining the safety of a vehicle or its components. For more information concerning VIN inspections, please see to the Inspection and Trailer Requirements.
What vehicles are inspected by the State Patrol?
The State Patrol performs physical inspections on vehicles that have been rebuilt after being destroyed or declared a total loss by an insurance company. They also will perform physical inspections as required on vehicles reported stolen, homemade vehicles, or other vehicles without a proper VIN, when there is a VIN discrepancy, when there is a record dispute, when ownership is in doubt, or other special cases.
Do rebuilt vehicles have to be completely repaired prior to the inspection?
Yes. RCW 46.12.560 addresses citizen's responsibilities prior to obtaining an inspection. It states in part, "A vehicle presented for inspection must have all damaged major component parts replaced or repaired to meet RCW and WAC requirements before inspection of the salvage vehicle by the Washington State Patrol." The WSP will only inspect complete vehicles.
RCW 46.80.010 (5) defines major component parts to include at least each of the following: 1) Engines and short blocks, 2) Frame, 3) Transmission and/or transfer case, 4) Cab, 5) Door, 6) Front or rear differential, 7) Front or rear clip, 8) Quarter panel, 9) Truck bed or box, 10) Seat, 11) Hood, 12) Bumper, 13) Fender, and 14) Airbag.
Note: If the vehicle was originally manufactured with both a driver and passenger side airbag, both need to be replaced prior to the inspection.
What information is needed at the time of the vehicle inspection?
When arriving for your inspection, be prepared to present the following information:
When will DOL perform the database search?
The database search will be performed after the vehicle is registered but before a title is issued when the vehicle owner registers an out-of-state or out-of-country vehicle in Washington. People who move into Washington have 30 days to obtain Washington license plates. Washington residents who purchase vehicles from outside of the state are required to register them immediately.
What happens if a vehicle is identified as stolen?
Under the new law, if a computer database search indicates a vehicle was reported stolen, the
DOL will notify the vehicle owner that a physical inspection of the
vehicle is required and forward the report to the State Patrol for
follow up. The vehicle owner will have 30 days to have the vehicle
inspected or the registration will be canceled and a title will not
be issued. The vehicle's record will also be flagged, preventing
future registration until the status of the vehicle is resolved.
What if a vehicle does not have a VIN?
The State Patrol will continue assigning VINs to vehicles that do not have them. The State Patrol also will issue and attach the VIN plates to the vehicles requiring them.
Do I need an appointment to get my vehicle inspected?
Yes. Due to the high demand for vehicle inspections, the appointment wait time can be as high as four weeks. It is not uncommon for the number of inspections requested to increase significantly during the summer months, so you will need to plan ahead.
Is there a fee for VIN inspections?
There is a fee collected by the DOL or DOL sub-agent at the time of registration. Fees collected for the physical inspections are used to pay for state and local highway and road improvement projects.
For additional information about fees for VIN inspections, see the Department of Licensing Vehicle & Boat Registration webpage.
Please note that some of the documents provided on this page are available in Adobe® PDF format only and will require the Adobe® Reader in order to view or print them from your Web browser.