If you recently decided to move to Denver and have a car, you likely have a number of auto-related tasks on your to-do list. Here’s some information that might help you check those items off quickly so you can focus on settling into your new home.
To begin, you should know that the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles requires that you obtain your driver’s license within 30 days of your move date, and that you register your vehicle within 90 days.
Of course, visiting the DMV — any DMV — can sometimes be a lengthy endeavor. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of all the necessary steps and documents you’ll need to transfer your out-of-state license and register your vehicle in Colorado — so you can be prepared with the necessary info when you walk through the DMV doors.
Transferring Your Out-of-State License to Colorado
The Colorado DMV offers a tool that can help you transfer your driver’s license to Colorado. After you answer a few questions about your existing out-of-state license, and whether it’s current and valid, the DMV says you can follow the below steps to get your new Colorado license.
- Bring your current, unaltered license to a driver’s license office near you.
- Take a vision screening test.
- Show proof of your new Colorado address with a copy of your homeowners or renters insurance policy, or any other approved document. Check out the DMV’s Driver’s License and ID Card Information for a full list of allowable documents.
- Pay the required fee of $21 (no credit or debit cards accepted).
- The staff will collect your fingerprint, Social Security number, signature and photo.
- All licenses in Colorado are mailed, and the DMV says you should receive it within 30 days.
Registering Your Vehicle in Colorado
In Colorado, the state handles driver licensing, while counties manage registration and titling. This means you’ll have to visit a separate office to complete your registration. You can check out the state’s map tool to find your nearest title and registration office.
- Get an emissions test. Counties in the Denver metro area require that your vehicle pass an emissions test in order to register your vehicle. Remember, after you become a Colorado resident, you have 90 days to register your vehicle, so it’s a good idea to schedule an emissions test before that time frame is up. You can check the Colorado Emissions Gasoline Program Area Map to make sure where you live is within the required area for emissions testing. Air Care Colorado has a contract with the state to do emissions tests and offers a map of testing locations. Cost of the test is $25 for gas-powered vehicles makes 1982 and newer. New, gas-powered vehicles are exempt from testing for the first four model years, and electric vehicles are also exempt, according to the Colorado DMV.
- Fill out a Verification of Vehicle Identification Number form and have it verified. This form must be verified by a designated official, which can include a licensed Colorado emissions testing station. You can bring the completed form to your emissions test and kill two birds with one stone.
- Gather necessary documentation. In addition to the emissions test report and VIN form, you will need to bring all of the following with you to the county motor vehicle office:
• Secure and verifiable identification, which can include a current driver’s license or a U.S. passport
• Vehicle title and/or current vehicle registration
• Proof of auto insurance
- Pay taxes and fees. The cost can vary based on the type of vehicle and county of residence. Most counties in the Denver metro area accept credit cards, but it’s a good idea to call ahead or have cash on hand.
What About My Car Insurance?
You’ll need to notify your auto insurance company about your move to Denver in order to keep your coverage current. Your rates could change, depending on where you lived before. When you’re updating your auto insurance policy, keep the following questions in mind.
- What limits of liability do I need if I’m involved in an accident? Colorado requires residents to have auto liability coverage levels of 25/50/15. That means you must carry bodily injury liability coverage with limits of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, and property damage liability coverage with a limit of at least $15,000. These are known as “minimum limits”.
- Do I need collision and comprehensive coverage? Your lender or lease holder may require both collision and comprehensive coverage if you financed your vehicle. If you have paid off your vehicle, these two coverages are optional. Collision insurance typically pays for damages to your vehicle if you’re involved in an accident while comprehensive coverage helps protect you from things that can damage your car but aren’t accident-related – such as those pesky cracked windshields.
- Do I need uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage? Colorado does not require you to have UM or UIM coverage; however, the Insurance Research Council estimates that one in every seven cars on the road is uninsured. If you choose this type of coverage and are injured by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, your insurance carrier can step in for the responsible party to help reimburse your medical expenses.
- Don’t forget about discounts. Ask for any possible rate reductions, like good student or safe driver discounts, when you shop for auto insurance coverage.
You’re officially a resident of Colorado once you’re employed in the state or have lived here for 90 consecutive days. Now that you know what steps to take at the DMV, your driver’s license, vehicle plates and auto insurance policy should soon reflect your new status as a Coloradoan. Congrats!
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