License Plates & Placards in Colorado

SUMMARY: Colorado License Plates

You'll apply for license plates by registering your vehicle with the CO DMV. Renew your tags by renewing your vehicle registration. You can transfer Colorado tags to a vehicle you buy if your name is on both registrations. You'll need to get replacement license plates if your plates are lost, stolen, or damaged.

Continue reading to learn more about license plates from the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

NOTE: Applying for disabled parking plates? Get complete details on our Disabled Plates and Placards page.

Types of Colorado License Plates

Most vehicles in Colorado must have license plates, including:

  • Passenger vehicles and trucks.
  • Motorcycles.
  • Trailers.
  • Motor homes.

Your plates must also have registration validation tabs, which you'll get when you register your vehicle and renew your registration.

NOTE: Depending on the type of vehicle you have, you may require plates both on the front and rear OR just the rear.

Special Plates

The CO DMV issues standard license plates as well as several types of specialty plates, including:

  • Personalized plates.
  • Organizational plates.
  • Military honor plates.

The Colorado DMV also issues license plates and placards for disabled parking. Find out if you're eligible by reading our Disability Placards and Plates page.

Temporary Tags or Permit

If you purchase a vehicle from a licensed dealer, they can issue you temporary tags so that you can drive until you get your CO license plates.

The tag can be extended if your plate is delayed.

When you buy a vehicle in a private sale, you can get a temporary permit in person at a CO DMV office. Temporary permits are issued as a temporary motor vehicle registration for up to 60 days. This gives the seller and buyer time to complete all transfer of ownership documentation.

You will need:

  • The title certificate or a bill of sale.
  • An emissions inspection certificate from the seller, if required in your county.
  • Any other documents the seller gave you, such as an odometer disclosure.
  • Proof of your car insurance.
  • A form of identification, such as your CO driver's license.
  • Payment.
    • Contact the CO DMV at (303) 205-5600 for fee information.

Note: This information is county specific. If you have any questions please check with your appropriate county.

Apply for License Plates in CO

Applying for CO tags is part of the vehicle registration process.

You must register your vehicle when you move to Colorado or when you get a new vehicle.

If you're a new resident, you must register your vehicle with the CO DMV within 90 days of moving to the state. When you buy a vehicle, you have 60 days to register it.

See our Vehicle Registration page for complete details.

Renew Vehicle Tags

Your CO tags must be renewed in order to legally drive your vehicle. Renewal is usually every 12 months.

To renew your tags and get a new decal, simply renew your vehicle registration either:

  • Online.
  • By mail.
  • In person.

For more information—such as renewal fees—see our page about Renewing Your Registration in Colorado.

Replace Missing or Damaged Plates

If your license plates have been lost, stolen, or damaged, apply for replacements in person at your Colorado county DMV branch.

NOTE: If your license plates were stolen, you must file a police report first.

You'll need to submit the following to the CO DMV:

You may also need additional documentation. Contact the Colorado DMV for more information.

Transfer or Surrender Your CO Tags

In Colorado, you can transfer license plates from one car to another if:

  • Both vehicles have at least 1 owner in common.
  • The license plate configuration and type can be used on the vehicle.
    • Contact the CO DMV for more information.

You'll transfer the plates when you register your vehicle.

If you move to another state, you may be required to return your plates to the Colorado DMV. Contact your county vehicle office for requirements.

Fees for License Plates

License plate fees are based on several factors, including:

  • Vehicle age, value, and weight.
  • The date it was purchased.
  • County of registration.

Contact your local CO DMV registration office for specific fees.

Specialized & Personalized Plates

Today, the state boasts a large variety of varying license plate styles. You can now support causes, represent your university, lineage, or Masonic group, or tout your service in the military.

Plates are divided into numerous categories including collector, passenger, recreational, motorcycle, light truck, special interest, military and veteran, and disabled.

Personalized Plates

Show off elements of your personality to the world, or just your ability to create witty phrases out of seven designated spaces on a Colorado personalized plate. You can have your own saying on the purple mountain designer plates (light trucks and cars only), motorcycle, and the standard issue green and white.

Regular plates allow 7 characters made up letters (upper case), numerals (no zeros), dashes, blank spaces, and periods. Motorcycle plates, due to size restrictions, cut a character space off and allow only 6 characters.

Obviously, no obscenities are allowed. A complete listing of character usage is available on the Personalized License Plate Application (Form DR 2810). Make sure you really like the phrase you create because the costs are quite a bit more than standard state-issued plates. If you choose a personalized designer plate then the fee increases even more. Do not send any payments with your application. Once the plate is approved you will be sent a bill for the initial payment due based on your selection.

Columbine Plate

This plate memorializing the victims and survivors of the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School is currently one of the most popular in the state. It features a columbine flower (the state flower) and the phrase "Respect Life" on a detailed mountain backdrop. There is a one-time fee of $50 for the plate, in addition to standard registration and license fees.

Alumni Plates

Most of Colorado's private and public colleges and universities allow you to display your allegiance via a license plate bearing the school's logo. Each institution's alumni association has a specific set of requirements for application (usually a donation). There is a one-time fee of $50 for the plates, in addition to standard registration and license fees.

Personalized plates, minus the logo, are also available with the completion of the Personalized License Plate Application (Form DR 2810). Fees are higher for this service.

Collector Plates

Instead of antique plates, Colorado offers collector plates. To qualify, your car or light truck must be at least 32 years old. Registration is valid for 5 years. With this plate you are restricted to driving no more than 4,500 miles per year. In accepting these plates, you will be required to sign an affidavit saying you agree to the mile restriction.


DR 2810

Application for personalized license plates, including personalized specialty plates.

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