How to Register a Car in Colorado

All vehicles must be registered through Colorado’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If you have recently moved to Colorado, and have established residency, you have 90 days to register your vehicle. This must be done in person, at the DMV office in the county you live in. Residency is defined as:

  • Operating or owning a business in Colorado
  • Living in Colorado for 90 days
  • Working in Colorado

New residents registration

If you are a new resident and wish to register your vehicle, you required to provide the following:

  • VIN verification
  • Current registration certificate or title
  • Identification, such as driver’s license, passport, military ID
  • Proof of passing an emissions test, if applicable
  • Car insurance proof
  • Registration fees

For residents of Colorado, after you purchase a vehicle, it must be registered within 60 days. Depending on the age of your vehicle and the county you reside in, you may need a smog check. If you purchase a vehicle from a dealership, the dealer will handle the registration paperwork in most cases. It is best to confirm this when purchasing the car.

Registering vehicles purchased from private seller

If you purchased your vehicle from a private party and wish to register it, you need to provide the following:

  • VIN verification
  • Current registration or title
  • Identification, such as driver’s license, passport, military ID
  • Proof of passing an emissions test, if applicable
  • Proof of auto insurance
  • Registration fees

If you are a military member stationed in Colorado, you may keep your vehicle’s registration in your home state, or register your vehicle in Colorado. If you do register your vehicle, you need to comply with emission laws and requirements, but you do not have to pay the Specific Ownership Tax. To meet the standards for this waiver, you must bring the following to the DMV:

  • Copy of your orders
  • Military ID
  • Current Leave and Earnings Statement
  • Non-residence and Military Service Exemption from Specific Ownership Tax Affidavit

There are fees associated with registering a vehicle in Colorado. Sales and ownership taxes are added on as well. All of the fees vary by county. The three types of fees are:

  • Ownership tax: Personal property tax based on the value of your vehicle when it was brand new

  • Sales tax: Based on your car’s net purchase price

  • License fee: Based on the weight of your vehicle, purchase date, and the taxable value

Smog checks and emissions tests

Some counties require smog checks and emissions tests. These should be done before registering your vehicle.

The following counties require smog checks:

  • Jefferson
  • Douglas
  • Denver
  • Broomfield
  • Boulder

The following counties require emissions tests:

  • Weld
  • Larimer
  • El Paso
  • Arapahoe
  • Adams

Be sure to check local guidelines when it comes to smog and emissions checks. Furthermore, you can find exact registration fees at your local county’s DMV. Visit the Colorado DMV website to find out more about what you can expect from this process.


The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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