Driving a vehicle in Colorado without current registration tags is against the law and carries stiff fines. Getting your car registered in Colorado is not difficult, but you do need to provide the correct documentation of the vehicle title, current proof of insurance. Depending on the age of the vehicle, you may also be required to submit a current smog report.
Colorado vehicle registrations are administered by the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which is an agency within the Colorado Department of Revenue (DOR).
Colorado Vehicle Registration by Mail and In-Person
Colorado residents must renew their vehicle registration every 12 months, and the DMV sends out renewal notices about 60 days before the expiration date. Notices are mailed to the last address on record, but if a person has moved and has not updated their mailing address, they may not receive this notice.
You can renew your registration for up to one month beyond the expiration of the previous registration without any additional fees. After one month, you will be charged an extra $25 for each month up to a total of $100 in fines for late renewal.
Renewal notices for vehicle registration in Colorado tell you how much the registration fee is, where to submit payment to the local County Clerk office, and whether or not you must send in proof of insurance or an emissions test result. Some insurance companies automatically file an electronic proof of insurance to DMV, in which case, the vehicle owner does not need to provide this documentation.
In many counties in Colorado, you must either mail in your renewal form or submit it in-person at a County Clerk office. A few counties in Colorado have set-up an online vehicle registration renewal process.
Renewing Vehicle Registration Online in Colorado
When you receive your renewal notice, it will tell you whether or not you can make this transaction online. If this option is available, go to the online DMV renewal website at Colorado DMV. You will need to:
- enter the vehicle license plate number
- already have proof of insurance on file at DMV
- already have evidence of a current smog report, if required for your vehicle
- have acceptable payment with a credit or debit card.
When you renew by mail or online, you can expect to receive your license plate stickers and new registration card in the mail within two weeks. If it does not arrive, Colorado DMV has an online registration status check page at their website.
Out-of-State and Military Registration Renewals
If you are residing out-of-state when your registration renewal is due, and you are required to provide an emissions report, you can renew the registration and file for an extension for submitting the report.
You must still send in the renewal form and payment, but you can complete an application called Affidavit of Emissions Extension. If you are living in a place that does not require emissions testing, a military or law enforcement officer can fill out a Form DR 2698, and you will be exempt from this requirement.
Specific hybrid, electric, and newer models of vehicles are also exempt from the emissions test requirement, along with collector cars manufactured before 1975.