See our guide for first-time riders with tips on how to plan your route, make a vehicle reservation and more.
This is a guide on how to use Washington State Ferries for first-time riders.
Step 1: Plan your route
Find out fares by route and date using our fare calculator tool.
Step 2: Make a reservation for vehicles on available routes
You may make a vehicle reservation on the following routes:
- Anacortes/San Juan Islands (Friday Harbor, Orcas Island, Shaw Island, Lopez Island)
- Anacortes/Friday Harbor/Sidney, British Columbia
- Port Townsend/Coupeville
On these busy routes, we recommend making vehicle reservations.
If you are not traveling on one of these routes, go directly to Step 3 and purchase your tickets.
Step 3: Buy your tickets
Passengers, bicycles and vehicles
You may buy tickets online or when you arrive.
- Children and youth under the age of 19 travel free if not the driver of a vehicle.
- Seniors and riders with disabilities can receive reduced fares and will need to have proof of eligibility.
Commercial and oversized vehicles
Step 4: Arrive in advance of your sailing
Plan to be aboard your ferry as a walk-on passenger at least five minutes in advance of the sailing.
For most routes, you should plan to be in line at the tollbooth at least 20 minutes in advance of the sailing.
If you have a vehicle reservation, you will need to arrive more than 20 minutes in advance. Check the vehicle reservation page for guidance on when to arrive.
Step 5: Board and ride the ferry
Vehicles and motorcycles
Line up in your vehicle at the tollbooth to show or buy a ticket. Follow directions from employees who will guide you on board.
Once you get on the boat you may leave your vehicle. Some tips:
- Turn off your car alarm
- Put on your emergency brake
- Follow directions from the loudspeakers
- Return to your car when asked
Follow instructions from employees for unloading.
Vehicle safety and driver responsibilities
Drivers are responsible to make every effort to ensure a safe environment on the ferry.
- If requested, terminal and vessel crews can help you navigate aboard a ferry, but you are responsible for your actions and the consequences of moving your vehicle.
- RCW 46.61 “Rules of the Road” gives your legal responsibilities.
Walk-on passengers and bicycles
Walk to the ferry terminal and show your ticket or purchase one. When the ferry is ready to board, follow employee instructions and have your ticket ready to scan at the turnstiles.
You will walk across a ramp to board the ferry. There is indoor and outdoor seating. You are free to move around.
You will exit the ferry on the docked side following the directions of the ferry employee.
Food and vending machines
Many ferries have food and drinks in a dining area. You can order food throughout the trip and alcohol up to 15 minutes before arrival. You may also get food from the vending machines.
- Online: WSF Customer Service
- Phone: 206-464-6400 (local), 888-808-7977 (toll-free) or 511 within Washington state between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time daily