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Seattle launching online registration system for short-term rentals

System to be available beginning Jan. 2, 2019

SEATTLE – The Department of Finance and Administrative Services announced today the city’s new registration system for short-term rentals will launch on Jan. 2, 2019. The city of Seattle adopted new regulations for short-term rentals in December 2017, which impacts short-term rental operators, platforms (e.g., Airbnb, VRBO) and, in some cases, bed and breakfast operators.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, anyone operating a short-term rental in Seattle must have a short-term rental operator’s license. FAS will issue short-term rental regulatory licenses, which will be valid for one year. The new license will cost $75 per unit and will be separate from the required Seattle business license tax certificate.

The city is coordinating with platforms on outreach and education efforts to short-term rental operators during the first 120 days of 2019. For now, short-term rental operators should review information on the city’s website at They should also take steps to make sure they are prepared when the license application system goes online on Jan. 2, e.g., have applied for and been issued a Seattle business license tax certificate.

“Launching a new system like this can be a challenging process,and we appreciate the platforms partnering with us to make this transition as smooth as possible,” said Calvin W. Goings, FAS department director. “Our goal is to provide short-term rental operators with timely information and assistance to ensure they have what they need to be compliant with the new regulations.”

“The new law allows Seattle families and the community to receive the full economic benefits of short-term rentals, creates a system for hosts to register their homes and provides the city with tools to enforce the law,” said Laura Spanjian, Airbnb public policy director, Northwest. “Airbnb has worked closely with the city of Seattle as the new rules were developed, and we look forward to continuing this partnership as they are implemented.”

“Mayor Durkan and FAS staff have worked hard to develop a path forward that works for the community and short-term rental owners. This is good policy that hits the right balance in addressing the community’s needs,preserving important opportunities for vacation rental owners and allowing options for travelers. On behalf of the Expedia Group family of brands,including vacation rental leaders HomeAway and VRBO, we applaud the city’s approach as a model for cities across North America,” said Richard de Sam Lazaro, government relations manager, Expedia Group.

Licensed operators may operate up to two dwelling units they own as short-term rentals, one of which must be their primary residence. In addition to obtaining a Seattle business license tax certificate before registering as a short-term rental operator, anyone operating a short-term rental that is not their primary residence will also need to register with the city’s Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance program. There are limited exceptions to  the maximum number of units, including some exceptions for short-term rentals legally operated before Sept. 30, 2017.

There will be no new city-imposed taxes on short-term rentals as a result of the new regulations. However, short-term rentals are still subject to state and local retail sales tax and local transient lodging taxes.

Additional information about Seattle’s short-term rental regulations is available at or by contacting the city at 206-386-1267 or

This press release was provided by Seattle’s Department of Finance and Administrative Services.

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