Applying for a New License (Drivers 18+) in Colorado
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Whether you're a new Colorado resident or a new driver, you must own a driver's license to operate in Colorado. You must choose from three different licenses:
- Class R covers all vehicle types minus motorcycles and commercial. Licenses must be renewed every five years. Operators under 21 must renew on their 21st birthday.
- Class M covers motorcycles (this is an endorsement, not an actual license).
- Class A, B, and C cover commercial vehicles as defined in federal guidelines. CDLs must be renewed every four years.
*NOTE: Colorado has three different permits with different requirements: Driver Education Permit, Driver Awareness Permit and Minor Instruction Permit. If you are under 18 you must hold your permit for more than 12 months before you can apply for a driver license. You can learn more at our Drivers Permits page.
Younger than 18―drivers under 16 must take drivers ed.
16 and older―If you are applying for a license for the first time, you give should thought to completing a driver education course. Though not mandatory, it's a wise idea to take a supplemental course such as the one offered by our sponsor before taking the written test.
Visit your local Division of Motor Vehicle (DMV) office when you're ready to take the written exam. Written tests are given on a walk-in basis.
On the day of your test:
- Bring proof of identity, age, name and legal presence. Photocopies or notarized copies will not be accepted.
- Bring your Social Security card. If you don't own one you must bring a letter from the Social Security Administration confirming your ineligibility.
- Bring proof of Colorado residency. This may include a utility bill, a pay stub, a phone bill, a bank statement, a tax document, a credit card statement, or your vehicle registration.
- Provide a completed and signed Affidavit of Liability and Guardianship, if you're under 18.
- Have cash or check to pay $14 permit fee.
After passing your vision and written tests you'll be issued a permit based on your age.
After holding the permit for a required amount of time you'll be eligible to take a road test. You can read more about road test scheduling in the section below titled Take the Driving Test.
If you fail your test you can re-take it the same day, provided you answered more than half of the questions correctly. Otherwise, you must wait until the next business day to take the exam again.
NOTE: Written exams are also offered in Spanish.
Somewhere down the line you'll need a car to take Colorado's road test. Having a car will allow you to practice on your own, outside of a driver training program.
Consider a car that meets needs, rather than image. Used cars can be a good buy if you check it out first. Before deciding, be sure to get a vehicle history report. This will protect you from any hidden flaws that could drain your wallet down the road.
Car insurance, regardless if you only possess a permit, is mandatory for all vehicles. You can compare rates at our Insurance Center.
You must make an appointment with your local Driver's License office. Be sure to bring:
- Your Drive Time Log Sheet (if required).
- Your permit.
- Cash or check to pay $21 license fee.
- A car that's properly registered and insured.
NOTE: If you are a new Colorado resident with a valid license from another state, you do not have to take a road exam.
Once You Pass
You'll be issued a temporary paper license, valid for 30 days.
If You Fail
If you fail the test, you must wait one business day before taking it again, but ultimately it is at the discretion of the examiner.
You should receive you permanent license in the mail within 30 days. If you do not receive it within this time frame, contact the DMV office where you originally applied.
If you're under 18, keep in mind the following license restrictions:
- You cannot drive between 12 midnight and 5 a.m. unless you've held your license for more than one year.
- You cannot drive with a passenger under 21 until you've held your license for more than 6 months.
- You cannot carry more than one passenger under 21 until you've held your license for more than one year.
Your valid foreign license, along with an International Driver's Permit, is only valid for 90 days in Colorado. After this period you must apply for a Colorado license.
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We put a lot of effort into making our content helpful & accurate. Please let us know if you see something that isn't clear or correct; we are here to ease any frustrations you may have while navigating DMV topics. We are not a government agency, please reach out to your local DMV, insurance agent, or respective professional for further assistance on specific situations.