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'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).

Looking for vanity plates? Learn more about license plate options on our types of Specialty Plates and Specialty Plate Applications pages.

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

What are the 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.

Learn more about these options on our Types of Specialty Plates page. If you want to apply, see our Specialty Plate Applications page.

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.

How to 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 becoming a CO resident. When you buy a vehicle, you have 60 days to register it.

See our Vehicle Registration page for complete details.

How Renew Colorado Car 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:

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 most license plates expire upon the transfer of the title or a change in the owner's interest in the vehicle. You can only transfer license plates from one car to another if:

  • The license plate is personalized.
  • The license plate is a horseless carriage plate.
    • Contact the CO DMV for more information.

If you move to another state, you can either:

  • Surrender your plate to your previous county vehicle office.
  • Recycle the plate at a recycling center that processes metal.

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.

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