Free ID Cards Now Available for Homeless People in Washington


Starting this year, the Washington Department of Licensing will offer a one-time original or renewed state ID card at no cost for those who are homeless and expected to live in Washington.

For people who may not be homeless but are receiving public assistance, the DOL is offering cards at a reduced price of $5, if they have a letter from the Department of Social and Health Services. A letter is not required for those under 25.

A standard identification card costs $54 for six years, or $72 for eight years.

The free ID card program was made possible by a state law passed in March, which took effect Jan. 1.

"Having valid identification is critical to many aspects of life, including gaining access to housing," the DOL said in a news release. "Thanks to a new law, the Department of Licensing is in position to help further erode this all-too-common barrier statewide."

Those who are homeless and seeking a free ID card can arrive at a driver's licensing office with or without an appointment. If the person had a Washington driver's license or ID in the past, employees can locate their record in the DOL system. No other documentation is needed.

People seeking identification will need a current mailing address, which could be a shelter, community organization or a church. Or they can request to pick up the ID directly from the licensing office.

If the person has never had a Washington ID, they will need a document showing proof of identity. If they don't have one, DOL recommends they visit a licensing office to speak with a supervisor.

According to DOL spokesperson Rob Wieman, the supervisor will help connect the person with the Department of Health for a birth certificate, or another agency or state, or help them think of other qualifying documents.

Those attending a public school are encouraged to contact their homeless education liaison, teacher or counselor who can direct them. Those in foster care or the juvenile rehabilitation system should contact their caseworker, according to DOL.