Thurston County to Issue Paper Plates Amid License Plate Shortage


The Thurston County Auditor’s Office and eight licensing subagents will issue temporary paper permits to passenger vehicle licensing customers because of a statewide license plate shortage.

The paper permits are valid for 60 days and can be displayed the same way temporary plates are displayed when purchasing a vehicle from a dealer, stated a news release.

Tabs will also be issued to licensing customers so they can be attached to their metal plates once they are available.

Only passenger vehicle licensing customers are being impacted by the shortage. Motorcycles, trailer and truck licensing customers are not impacted.

The Department of Corrections (DOC) license plate production slowed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The DOC increased staffing and, starting on July 31, the production will be outsourced to another state, according to the release.

The state Department of Licensing has not communicated when the supply chain for license plates will be restored. The department oversees vehicle and vessel licensing statewide.

“While we haven’t heard for certain when metal plates will be available, we hope our customers are patient while we work through this,” said Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall in the release. “The state has instructed us to prioritize car dealership transactions for our small remaining inventory of metal plates. We’ll work with customers to get them their metal plates as soon as they are available.”

For more information on licensing services in Thurston County, or to find a list of subagents, visit

Licensing subagents are private businesses overseen by the auditor’s office that provide vehicle and vessel licensing services in communities across Thurston County.