Colorado Car Registration: A Hassle-free, Step-by-Step Guide

Completing a Colorado car registration takes place at your local DMV office.

Vehicle registration is a requirement to legally drive on the state roads. You’ll have 60-days from the vehicle’s purchase to get it registered through the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles.

Given you have proof of ownership, ID, and file the correct paperwork, your car registration shouldn’t take long if you’ve made an appointment. This guide shares the step-by-step process of getting your vehicle legally registered for the Colorado roads.

How to Register a Car or Truck in Colorado

You must register your vehicle within 60 days of ownership. Out-of-state drivers have up to 90 days from their residency to get their vehicle registered.

You will need a smog inspection before registering the vehicle and vary by county. Mandatory smog checks are done in: Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson. You’ll also need an emissions test in: Adams, Arapahoe, Larimer, and Weld.

Car insurance is a requirement when registering a vehicle if you plan to drive. Gather (or get) your Colorado driver’s license or proof of ID, and complete the following for any vehicle bought through private sales:

  1. Go to a CO DMV office
  2. Complete the Vehicle Identification Number Verification (DR 2698) if titled out-of-state
  3. Bring and show the title or certificate of registration
  4. Provide proof of ID and residency
  5. Show proof of your emissions test (if applicable)
  6. Show proof of Colorado auto insurance
  7. Pay the registration fees
    1. License fee
    2. Sales tax
    3. Ownership tax

Congratulations! You’ve completed the steps to register a vehicle in the state of Colorado. Your registration is valid for 1-year. Practice safe driving, respect road rules, and your time on the road will be fun and exciting!

Emissions Tests

An emissions inspection is required before registration.

You will complete this emissions test if required as stated by your county requirements. Check with your local DMV for specifics about your smog check requirements and other questions when registering.


Dealerships process vehicle registration on your behalf. They will send your documents and likely pay the registration fee as part of the transaction.

If they don’t, you may request vehicle documentation and complete the process in-person or by mail on your own.

Out-of-State Drivers

Those coming from out-of-state must register their vehicle within 90 days of residency else face a late fee. You will process your registration in-person at your local DMV, doing the following:

  1. Provide your VIN Verification (DR 2698)
  2. Provide the vehicle’s title or vehicle registration certificate
  3. Show proof of identification
  4. Show proof of an emissions test (if applicable)
  5. Show proof of auto insurance
  6. Pay the vehicle registration fees

Colorado Registration Fees and Taxes

How much does it cost to register a car in Colorado? It depends on the empty weight of the vehicle plus county taxes, and the license plate selected. You must pay ownership taxes each year.

Calculations: Final purchase price x total sales tax = taxes owed.

It’s unlikely you’ll receive exact quotes over the phone or online – though you may do an estimation using your county’s tools. A trip to your local DMV will verify estimations and provide an exact price of what you’ll pay for the registration fees and taxes.

Registration Renewal

When it’s time – annually — you’ll need to a registration renewal. This process won’t take long but is essential if you plan to continue driving, legally, in the state of Colorado and beyond. Failure to renew your vehicle’s registration can result in a suspended license so don’t forgo this process!