Getting a vehicle registration in Colorado is a straightforward procedure that can be completed through the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which is overseen by the state’s Department of Revenue (DOR). Vehicle owners can apply for a new car registration through the motor vehicle office in their residential county. Overall, applicants will be required to submit several types of documents and pay the applicable licensing fees in person, since the DMV does not currently offer other application methods.

In order to finalize the process of registering a car in CO, vehicle owners will be required to follow several steps, which may vary depending on their circumstances and the type and model year of their vehicles. Furthermore, new state residents will have to fulfill additional prerequisites before applying for a vehicle registration. Continue reading the following sections to learn more about the Colorado car registration procedures and requirements.

Colorado Car Registration Requirements

Before you pay for the car registration fees in Colorado, you will be required to meet the full set of applicable criteria. The standard requirements to register a car, truck, motorcycle or other types of vehicles are explored below.

  • You have the corresponding vehicle ownership document in your possession, such as a reassigned certificate of title or an out-of-state title. Before processing your registration request, the state DMV must issue you a Colorado title document.
  • You have obtained the required insurance policy and proof of insurance.
  • Your vehicle has passed a vehicle identification number (VIN) verification, if required to do so.
  • Your motor vehicle has completed an emissions inspection, if required to do so.
  • You have arranged payment for the applicable taxes and fees.

Once you are certain that you meet these CO car registration requirements, you will be required to submit your registration request within a certain time period. If you are an existing resident who has purchased a vehicle, you are required to apply for a registration within 60 days of the purchase date.

If you are a new state resident registering a vehicle with an out-of-state documentation, you will have to get your credentials within three months of your move. If you transfer an out-of-country vehicle to the United States, you only have 45 days to register it without paying any late fees.

Car Insurance Requirements for Registering a Car in Colorado

Colorado car registration applicants must obtain the mandatory vehicle insurance coverage before registering their cars. Overall, failing to purchase and maintain the necessary coverage will lead to certain fines and penalties. With that in mind, you can choose one of the following types of policies prior to registering your vehicle:

  • A vehicle-only coverage with terms that are specific for the type of motor vehicle owned by a resident.
  • A self-insurance package with a certificate issued by the state Commissioner of Insurance to owners of more than 24 vehicles.
  • A blanket-operator policy that covers the motorist regardless of the vehicle he or she is operating.
  • An owner-operator form, which is a policy that covers the full fleet of vehicles owned by an individual or a company.

A DMV agent will only process your CO auto registration request if you provide a document such as an insurance card, a copy of the insurance policy or a letter signed by the insurer. Thus, after obtaining one of the types of insurance coverages listed above, you must secure the corresponding paperwork that identifies and details your policy.

Vehicle Inspection/Smog Inspection/VIN Inspection Requirements in Colorado

When registering your vehicle in Colorado, you may be required to submit it to certain types of inspections. For example, if you need to apply for a car registration for an out-of-state motor vehicle, your vehicle will first have to pass a VIN inspection conducted by a law enforcement official, emissions station or a vehicle dealer. In such cases, your vehicle will be physically inspected to check whether or not it displays a valid VIN and whether or not it meets the state safety standards.

Prior to issuing a new vehicle registration in CO, the state DMV may also require you to submit your car to an emissions inspection. Note that these requirements may vary depending on the type and age of the vehicle you are registering, as well as your county of residence. For instance, gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles older than seven model years will most likely require an emissions inspection on a biennial basis.

Registering a Vehicle in Colorado

If you are wondering how to register a car in Colorado, note that you will be required to submit your request in person through a CO DMV office in your residential county. Note that you will complete the vehicle registration process simultaneously with the titling procedure, in most cases. Depending on your circumstances, however, you may have to follow slightly different steps. For example, when purchasing a new vehicle from a dealership, you may not be required to submit the registration request to the state DMV.

How to Register a New Car in Colorado

If you would like to know how to get a DMV registration in Colorado for a vehicle purchased from a dealership, note that the dealer will generally submit the necessary paperwork on your behalf. Before leaving the dealership, you will receive temporary tags, which will allow you to legally drive your newly-purchased vehicle until you receive your permanent paperwork. When shopping for a new motor vehicle, however, inquire whether or not this option is available from a particular auto dealership.

Registering a Used Car in Colorado

In order to successfully register your vehicle in Colorado after purchasing it from a private party, you will have to submit the necessary items in person through a nearby motor vehicle licensing site. If you are wondering what you need to register a car, check the following list:

  • A filled out “Application for Title and/or Registration” form
  • The corresponding ownership document, such as a reassigned vehicle title or an out-of-state title and/or registration card
  • An official state-issued identification document, such as a valid driving license
  • Proof of vehicle insurance of an acceptable type of coverage
  • Evidence of a passed emissions inspection
  • A signed “Verification of Vehicle Identification Number” form
  • An “Affidavit of Non-Use of Vehicle” form, if you are not planning on operating your vehicle for a longer time period
  • Payment for the taxes, as well as the titling and registration fees

Your DMV agent will process your CO vehicle registration application once he or she verifies that your request is authentic and complete. Then, you will receive your registration documents in the mail. Your new title will be mailed to your recorded address within four to six weeks. Note that you will be required to complete the vehicle registration renewal process on a yearly basis.

How to Register a Car in Colorado as a New Resident

If you are wondering how to register a vehicle in Colorado as a new state resident, note that you will be required to follow all of the steps outlined in previous sections. Furthermore, when applying for a DMV registration for an out-of-state vehicle, you will need to complete additional steps, such as submitting your car to a physical examination of its working status and VIN.

Then, you will have to make a visit to a motor vehicle office in your residential country to fill out the corresponding application form, surrender your out-of-state paperwork and pay the applicable fees.

Vehicle Registration for Military Members in Colorado

Registering a car in Colorado is not a mandatory step for military personnel who are serving temporarily in the state. Generally, active duty service members with established residency in another state can continue operating their vehicles with their out-of-state vehicle documents.

However, military members still have the option of applying for a new auto registration in CO if they wish to do so. Active duty personnel who obtain a DMV registration in Colorado will be exempted from paying the state-specific ownership tax after they submit the “Nonresidence and Military Service Exemption From Specific Ownership Tax Affidavit” form.

Temporary DMV Registration in Colorado

When purchasing a motor vehicle from a dealership, you will receive a Colorado temporary registration permit, which will allow you to operate your car until you receive your permanent documents. This short-term permit will be printed by the dealership and issued with a mounting board.

Certain dealerships may also issue a license plate holder. Therefore, regardless of whether you are purchasing a new vehicle from a Colorado dealership to transport to another state or drive it inside CO, inquire about which temporary permits a dealership can offer.

Colorado License Plates

The state DMV will issue your Colorado car registration and state license plates once it confirms that you meet the full set of requirements and that you have paid all applicable fees. Note that, depending on the type of plate you are requesting, the processing times may be different. For instance, while standard plates and vehicle registration are issued over the counter during the same office visit, special and/or personalized tags include additional requirements and longer processing times.

Colorado Car Registration Fees

Arranging payment for the car registration cost in Colorado is the final step in the application process for registration documents. Note that the vehicle registration fees will vary depending on factors such as the vehicle weight, type, purchase date, model year, taxable value and license plate type. The payable fees may also differ from county to county. For example, the total vehicle registration cost in Larimer County may include but is not be limited to the following fees:

  • $7.20 title fee
  • $45 for passenger vehicles
  • $90 for light truck vehicles
  • $50 additional specialty plate fee
  • $22.50 to $55 additional Road and Bridge Surcharges
  • The corresponding vehicle inspection fees, if applicable
  • The corresponding ownership tax on 85% of the vehicle retail price

If you fail to pay your registration fees for a newly-purchased vehicle within 60 days of the purchase date, you will be required to pay additional late fees between $25 and $100. Therefore, contact your county DMV to before registering your vehicle to get an exact estimate of the costs that apply in your situation.

Last updated on Friday, March 6 2020.