Pay by Plate FAQ

Pay by Plate FAQ

How do I enter my license plate?

Enter all letters and numbers that make up your plate number, from left to right, with no spaces. Most current Washington State plates, including specialty plates, use up to 7 characters to make up a plate number (some specialty plates have up to 3 letters for a school, for example, and then 1-5 characters). See example below for current standard passenger vehicle plate and the old standard. Specialty plates for groups or organizations include both the stacked or vertical characters and large horizontal numbers. See example below. For additional information on specialty plates, please visit SDOT's specialty plates page. For out of state plates, enter the letters and numbers, from left to right.

Standard Plate Old Standard Plate Specialty Plate
Standard license plate   Old standard plate   Specialty plate  




Seattle is migrating to pay by plate. Why?

Pay by plate combines updated technology with an improved customer experience. Customer advantages include not having to return to your car to put that sticky receipt in your window. You just park, pay and you're on your way. You can still print a receipt if you want for your records. You can also set up an account, record a credit card, enter your license plate, and you'll never have to remember your license plate number again.   

How can I set up an account to link my license plate and credit card?

With an account on you just swipe your card, pick your vehicle (e.g., Bob's blue truck), select the time you want, and you're done. You can access your parking history for up to two years, and print a receipt from your computer anytime you need.

Visit to set up an account. Watch a video tutorial here. 

Can I still pay with coins?

Yes, you can still pay for parking using coins. You will be asked to enter your license plate number at the pay station.  

How long will the City retain my license plate data?

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) does not retain any personally identifiable data - that includes credit card data and license plate data. Our vendors retain license plate data that customers can access for up to two years.  

Who will have access to license plate data?

Only authorized and approved SDOT and Seattle Police Department Parking Enforcement staff and our vendors.  

How secure are the systems?

International and national Payment Card Industry (PCI) credit card security protocols and requirements demand our vendors maintain the highest levels of data security, encryption, penetration testing, and server security. The systems that protect credit card data also protect license plate data.  Since installing pay stations in 2004 that accept debit/credit cards, and processing about 11 million transactions per year, we've never experienced a data breach.

How can I prove I paid with the new pay by plate system since there is no receipt?

You will have the option to print a receipt at the time you pay at the pay station, for your records. You can also print a receipt from our vendor's online account system if you paid by credit card, know your card number, and the date you parked (no account set up required). Or, you can set up an account online and view your parking history for up to two years, and print a receipt at any time.  

Why doesn't the new system allow portability of unused paid time?

Portability no longer meets the needs of Seattle's parking system. Taking paid time from one area at one rate and bringing it to another area with a different rate renders the strategy to use price to manage demand ineffective.  If you are worried about paying for too much time, you can use pay by phone to extend your time remotely (up to the maximum time allowed).