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How to Register Your Vehicle in Colorado

Updated on February 18, 2013
Colorado flag
Colorado flag

While trying to figure out how to register my vehicle in Colorado, I found the information somewhat confusing and sometimes even contradictory. The purpose of this hub is to provide clear, detailed, step-by-step information to facilitate the process of transferring your car registration from another state to Colorado.

- You must register your vehicle within 90 days of becoming a resident of Colorado or within 60 days of purchasing a vehicle.

1. Obtain insurance - You'll need proof of insurance when registering your vehicle. If you have insurance from another state you can change your address on your policy to your new Colorado address. Your out-of-state insurance policy will cover you until it expires, at which time you'll need to get Colorado insurance. If your company does business in both states the process should be easy. It took me about ten minutes on the phone to an agent. You may want to switch policies earlier if it's cheaper in CO.

2. Get a VIN verification - This step is only necessary for out-of-state vehicles. VIN verification can be done at emission testing stations, but other businesses such as car dealers and garages sometimes offer the service cheaper or even free. The fee is $20 at emission testing stations.

The process of VIN verification only takes a few minutes. The person doing the verification will check the VIN at different spots on you vehicle then record them along with your odometer reading. You'll then sign the document and receive a copy to bring with you when you register your vehicle.

3. Have an emissions test done on your vehicle - Most vehicles are required to pass an emissions test, but a waiver is available in certain situations.

The emissions test is $25 for cars newer than 1981 and $15 for cars '81 and older. Tests only take about ten to fifteen minutes, but wait times vary. Check the Air Care Colorado website for locations and wait times.

4. Gather your paperwork and go to the County Motor Vehicle Office - What you'll need -

- Proof of Insurance.

- VIN verification paper (for out-of-state transfers).

- Vehicle Title or current out-of-state registration.

- Document from the emissions station proving your car passed the test.

- Valid and verifiable identification (A CO or out-of-state driver's license or ID card ,current or expired less than one year; a U.S. Passport or Passport Card, current or expired less than ten years; Valid U.S. Military ID; Tribal ID with photo; and certain other forms of identification).

- A bill of sale or loan document for purposes of determining sales tax.

- Payment for fees. Fees are based on a number of factors includind vehicle year and value. All fees may be paid in cash and most offices accept credit cards, but a small fee is charged.

5. Put your new plates on your car - Colorado offers many different kinds of plates, including designer, military, and ulumni. Make sure to put the license plate with the stickers affixed to it on the rear of your vehicle and the other one on the front.

- For more information about registering your car in Colorado as well as other vehicle info, visit the vehicle section of the Colorado Department of Revenue's website.

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