Nonresident military exemption requirements

Members of the armed forces who purchase vehicles in Washington are required to pay retail sales tax if they intend to remain here more than three months. This is true even if they claim a home of record in a state other than Washington and even if they register the vehicle under the laws of their home state.

Effective Jan. 1, 1990, sales of vehicles or trailers to nonresident members of the armed forces are exempt from retail sales tax only if all of the following requirements are met:

  • The license plates from the customer's home state are attached at the time of sale or a 45-day permit is used to move the vehicle from the premises.
  • The vehicle or trailer is not used in Washington more than three months.
  • The vehicle or trailer is not required to be registered and licensed in Washington.

Documentation needed for military sales

The affidavits for trip permits or nonresident license plates can be used. See Exempt Vehicle Sales. In addition, the dealer must obtain and retain one of the following:

  • A copy of military orders showing that the customer is temporarily stationed in Washington.
  • A copy of military orders showing that the customer is permanently reassigned to a new duty station outside Washington and will leave within three months of the date of purchase.

Resident military personnel

Resident military personnel do not receive an exemption when purchasing a vehicle in Washington. They are treated in the same manner as nonmilitary residents.


Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 458-20-177
Excise Tax Advisory (ETA) 3141 (pdf)