Applying for a New License (Drivers 18+) in Colorado

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Applying for a New Driver's License in Colorado

If you want to start driving in Colorado, you'll need to get your driver's license right away.

The Colorado Department of Revenue—Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) makes applying really easy, whether you're a new resident or a first-time new driver's license applicant.

REAL ID Licenses in Colorado

The Colorado DMV issues federally-compliant REAL ID driver’s licenses. REAL IDs allow you to use your license for domestic travel and entry into federal and military buildings. For details on REAL IDs, see the DHS' guide and FAQs.

New to Colorado?

If you've recently moved to Colorado, you have 30 days from the time you become a resident to obtain a CO license and 90 days to register your car.

Colorado defines you as a “resident" if you've:

  • Been in the state for a continuous 90 days.
    OR
  • Gained employment in the state.

You can transfer your valid out-of-state license by visiting your local driver's license office and:

  • Surrender your current out-of-state license.
  • Proof of CO residency (utility bill, pay stub).
    • 2 documents are required. Both must be dated within 1 year.
  • Proof of lawful presence in the U.S. (birth certificate, immigration document).
  • Proof of your Social Security number.
    • If you do not have one, you'll need to provide a letter of ineligibility from the SSA.
  • Pay the $28 fee.
    • The DMV accepts cash, personal checks, and money orders.
  • Pass a vision exam.
  • Get your fingerprint and photo taken.
  • Provide your signature.

The Division of Motor Vehicles might require additional documents. There is an identifications requirements chart you can use to make sure you have what you need.

Once you've successfully taken the steps to apply for your new driver's license, the DMV will issue you a temporary Colorado driver's license. Your permanent license will be mailed to you within 30 days.

  • If you are a minor (under 21 years old), your license will expire 20 days after your 21st birthday.
  • Adult licenses expire on the driver's birthday. The renew date will depend on the issuance date.
Just Moved?

Find all the information you need to finish your moving requirements with the DMV.

Adult Permit Holders—Over Age 18

If you have an out-of-state learner's permit but not a driver's license, you can take your driving test in Colorado. If you pass, you'll be given a Colorado driver's license.

If you do not pass, the Colorado DMV will issue you a learner's permit so you can practice driving before retaking your driving test.

CO Driver's License Eligibility Requirements

The Colorado DMV WILL NOT issue you a license if you:

  • Have any suspensions, revocations, or denials of your driving privileges in ANY state.
  • Are in violation of federal immigration laws.
  • Have been deemed mentally incompetent.
  • Have been deemed an alcoholic or habitual narcotics user.
  • You have any outstanding debts or fines for traffic violations.

Apply for Your CO Driver's License

CO Learner's Permit

Before you apply for your full driver's license in Colorado, you'll FIRST need to get an instruction permit. As long as you're at least 18 years old, you aren't required to hold this permit for any specific length of time, but it IS a requirement before getting your license. This is so you can practice driving before your actual behind-the-wheel exam.

Jump over to our page on driver's permits in Colorado for details on how to apply.

Driving Exam & License Application

IMPORTANT: Make sure you visit the right office!

Driver's license offices and registration offices are SEPARATE. Registration offices DO NOT handle driver's license transactions. Make sure you visit a driver's licensing office for your application.

BEFORE gathering your documents, schedule an appointment for your driving test at your local driver's licensing office. Note that no tests will be administered after 4:00 pm for those offices that maintain 8:00 am to 5:00 pm hours.

At your appointment, you'll need to:

  • Provide required identification*, including proof of:
    • Identity (U.S. passport, CO ID card, etc.).
    • Age (U.S. birth certificate, Certificate of Citizenship, etc.).
    • Name (U.S. passport, out-of-state driver's license/ID card, etc.).
    • Lawful presence in the U.S. (CO ID card, valid I-551, etc.).
    • CO residency2 documents (utility bill, proof of insurance, etc.) within 1 year of issue.
    • Social Security number.
      • If you do not have one, you'll need to provide a letter from the SSA indicating you do not have a number.
  • Submit your learner's permit.
  • Show proof of registration and insurance for the vehicle you'll be testing in.
  • Pass the:
    • Vision exam.
    • Driving test.
  • Pay the $28 fee.
    • The DMV only accepts cash, personal checks, and money orders.
  • Get your fingerprint and photo taken.

The Colorado DMV also provides an identifications requirements chart to ensure you meet all requirements.

Once you've passed your exam, the Colorado DMV will issue you a temporary license to drive legally. You'll receive your permanent driver's license in the mail within 30 days.

  • If you are a minor (under 21 years old), your license will expire 20 days after your 21st birthday.
  • If you hold an adult driver's license, it will expire on your birthday The renew date will depend on the issuance date.

*IMPORTANT NOTE:

One document may satisfy more than one category. Make sure to carefully review the list of accepted documents to make sure you don't have to make more than one trip.

Non-Citizens & CO Driver's Licenses

Non-citizens should follow the same new Colorado driver license application process as outlined above, making sure to provide the required legal presence documents specific to non-citizens.

See the “Lawful Presence in the U.S." bullet above.

Licensing for CO Military Members

If you are on active duty as a member of the U.S. military, you're exempt from obtaining a new Colorado driver's license if you have a valid license from another U.S. state. This exemption also extends to spouses of military members.

If you do not currently hold a valid driver's license, you'll take the same steps to apply as any other new civilian applicant (see “Apply for Your CO Driver's License" above).

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