How to register a car in Colorado


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Written by
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Licensed Auto Insurance Agent
UPDATED: 2020-04-10T19:03:37.981Z
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A road in Colorado where registered cars can drive.

Colorado is home to the Rocky Mountains and many who live there have a strong affinity for the outdoors. So, whether you are getting ready to explore the state’s Jeep trails or hopping in your vehicle to drive to the slopes, many Coloradoans consider having a vehicle essential.

If you are moving to Colorado to enjoy the great outdoors or if you already live there and are buying a vehicle, you will need to register your car. From what is required to what you need to bring with you, this post should answer all of your Colorado car registration questions.

Who is required to register a car in Colorado?

Registering a vehicle is required for anyone who falling under the following situations:

  • Colorado residents with a new vehicle: If you are a Colorado resident and have purchased a vehicle, you have 60 days from purchase to register your vehicle. (If you’ve bought your car from a dealership, they’ll typically file the paperwork for you. Of course, you should verify that this is the case.)
  • New Colorado residents: If you’ve just moved to Colorado, you must register your car within 90 days of becoming a resident. (You only have 30 days to transfer your driver’s license to Colorado, so plan accordingly!)
  • Non-residents with businesses in Colorado: A non-resident is required to register vehicles if they operate a business within the state that uses “any motor vehicle trailer, semi-trailer, or trailer coach.”
  • Recently returned to the United States: You must also register a vehicle within 45 days after the vehicle’s owner has returned to the United States. This presumably covers members of the military and others who are overseas for an extended period, and then return home to Colorado. (Members of the military stationed in Colorado only for a short time may be allowed to leave the vehicle registered in their home state. Check with the local DMV office for details.)

Although your initial registration will need to be done in-person, any subsequent renewals can be done online or by mail.

What will I need to bring with me to register a vehicle in Colorado?

When you go to register a car in Colorado, you’ll need to be prepared ahead of time. Make note of the following forms and documents you’ll have to bring with you. If you are in the process of moving, setting these documents aside rather than packing them might make sense, depending on what your situation is.

Although you have 90 days from becoming a resident to register your vehicle, in the process of a move, that time can go quickly! So, if there’s any chance that you won’t be completely unpacked and settled in within that time period, keeping those documents with you or packing them in a “soon to be opened” box will probably save you some time and frustration of digging through your belongings haphazardly.

Here is what you will need to bring with you to the DMV office:

  • If you’re moving from out of state to Colorado and your vehicle is titled in another state, in order to register your car, you will need to complete a VIN (vehicle identification number) verification form. The form will need to be completed by one of the following officials; either a Colorado law enforcement officer, a licensed Colorado motor vehicle dealer, or, by a licensed Colorado emissions testing station.
  • You will also need the vehicle’s title in your name, or, the current (out of state) registration.
  • You will need to bring a valid form of identification. Colorado stipulates that for certain processes, including the issuance of new or duplicate titles, that the ID be both secure and verifiable. Here is a list of the types of ID that are considered “secure and verifiable.”
  • In certain counties, you may need to bring proof that your vehicle passed an emissions test.
  • Proof of valid Colorado car insurance.
  • Sufficient funds to pay the registration fees and taxes applicable. All counties accept cash or check, but only some will accept credit cards as a form of payment, so verify before you go if you are hoping to use a credit card.

Is car insurance coverage mandatory to register a car in Colorado?

Yes, car insurance is required in Colorado. You are required to demonstrate proof of financial responsibility in the form of insurance coverage. There are a number of different forms of proof of insurance that are valid, including the following:

  • A Colorado insurance card
  • A copy of your Colorado insurance policy
  • A letter confirming coverage from your insurance company, on company letterhead
  • A computer printout from your insurer
  • Facsimile of your proof of insurance
  • Electronic proof of insurance, such as proof provided on the registration applicant’s smartphone, laptop, or other portable electronic device.
  • Email sent from the applicant’s insurer.

In Colorado, there is a minimum amount of car insurance required of all drivers to have. You will need to purchase at least the following car insurance coverage.

Liability car insurance coverage:

  • Bodily injury — $25,000 per person
  • Bodily injury — $50,000 per accident
  • Property damage — $15,000 per accident

Keep in mind that insurance agents often recommend purchasing more coverage than the minimum limits. This allows you to have more protection, such as collision coverage and comprehensive coverage.

If you are in the process of moving to Colorado or want to shop around for a better price, check out Clearsurance’s Colorado car insurance ranking to see the top-rated companies in your zip code according to consumers.

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