A change in the process held up thousands of mailed car-tab renewal notices last month. (Herald file)

A change in the process held up thousands of mailed car-tab renewal notices last month. (Herald file)

Did you get a late car-tab renewal notice? You’re not alone

Meanwhile, a reader is upset with a “hidden” 3% fee for using a credit card to pay for registration.

It comes once a year.

Car-tab renewal is an annual payment for vehicle owners. The cost depends on the value of what you drive, and that has been up for debate in recent years as an old valuation metric proved overly optimistic about an aging car’s worth — and thus how much the license renewal should cost.

Few of us put that task into our phone’s calendar or gaze at the rear plate where the stickers reside.

The Washington State Department of Licensing reminds owners in a couple of ways, either via email or the good old U.S. Postal Service.

That’s helpful. But in July, a change in the process held up thousands of mailed notices.

That snagged Karen Riedel of Snohomish. She got her notice on July 27, but her tabs officially expired July 10.

“I have always depended on this letter of notification to remind me of the due date for my tabs,” she wrote to The Daily Herald.

Riedel said she called the Department of Licensing, where someone told her that it’s her responsibility to renew vehicle tabs before they expire (that’s true) and that the state doesn’t actually have to remind people (also true).

“We’re not required by law to send vehicle renewal notices — it’s kind of a courtesy thing,” DOL spokesperson Christine Anthony said.

The state mails about 600,000 notifications each month for vehicles 30 days before they expire. Boat owners don’t get similar notices because they expire June 30 every year, but they do receive email reminders.

Vehicle owners aren’t charged directly for the mailed notices, an expense the DOL budgets for.

As for July’s renewal letters, “Some people did get them after their tabs had expired,” Anthony said.

“I can accept the Department of Licensing answer and be responsible for ensuring I have current tabs, but wonder how many people are aware of this,” Riedel wrote. “… Vehicle owners, do not depend on the letter for renewal sent out by the Washington State Department of Licensing, though that notification is appreciated.”

It’s a good reminder: Take note of your vehicle registration for the tab expiration date.

Another DOL change irked another reader.

Bill Quistorf, of Everett, noticed a 3% card charge fee for his vehicle registration renewal.

“The website has a calculator to give you the total in taxes and fees to be paid,” he wrote to The Daily Herald. “Once you enter credit card information and submit payment, DOL tacks on another 3% fee for a ‘credit card processing’ fee. The credit card fee can be avoided by paying by check but the DOL website has no mention of this in the online registration process. I did go back to the renewal notification message and the credit card fee is mentioned in the email message. I did not read the fine print.”

The DOL started charging the fee Jan. 1.

Quistorf said he wants other vehicle owners to know about it and asked that the licensing department include the fee in the taxes and fee calculation before someone hits the payment button. That way they could send a check or use their checking account information and not take the 3% hit.

“The state transportation budget previously covered the costs of online credit and debit transactions, and the Legislature discontinued this funding,” Anthony said in an email. “The new fee is intended to recover costs and will essentially equalize in-office and online card transaction fees.”

Have a question? Email streetsmarts@heraldnet.com. Please include your first and last name and city of residence.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Sid Logan (left) and Rob Toyer
PUD candidates focus on rates, broadband and renewables

Incumbent Sidney Logan faces former Marysville City Council member Rob Toyer for the District 1 seat.

Motorcycle rider dies after collision with car near Stanwood

The investigation of the fatal crash on Pioneer Highway closed stretches of it to drivers.

Deputies search for suspect after shooting south of Everett

One man was transported to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. A shooter reportedly fled.

Bill Bruch (left ) and Dave Paul
First-term Dem faces a GOP challenger for House seat in 10th

Rep. Dave Paul and Bill Bruch differ widely on the response to COVID-19.

Ballot drop box in Mill Creek hit by truck

The box was damaged Friday. Ballots inside will be counted. Officials gave other dropoff options.

FILE - In this July 31, 2015 file photo, an orca leaps out of the water near a whale watching boat in the Salish Sea in the San Juan Islands, Wash. Habitat protections for an endangered population of orcas would be greatly expanded under a proposal to be advanced by NOAA Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Millions have been spent on orca recovery: Is it working?

Restoring destroyed salmon habitat is the key to regaining Southern Resident killer whale numbers.

This firetruck serves the South County Fire District. (City of Lynnwood)
Two fire districts want to change how they make money

South County Fire wants to do a benefit charge, while Sky Valley Fire looks for a levy lid lift.

Sawyer West was last seen Oct. 16 at Highway 99 and 220th Street Southwest in Lynnwood. (Courtesy Carol Crane)
Search continues for missing man last seen in Lynnwood

Family, friends and police ask that people keep an eye out for Sawyer West, who has schizophrenia.

Most Read