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Colorado License Plate Search

All vehicles, including cars, vans, trucks, trailers, and motorhomes, must have a valid license plate in Colorado. You can register your vehicle at the DMV and get validation tags in addition to your vehicle’s registration.

Sample Colorado License Plate

Sample Colorado License Plate

When to Apply for a License Plate in Colorado

You must go to the Department of Motor Vehicles in Colorado to register your vehicle within 60 days of its purchase.

If you're a new resident of Colorado, you should visit the DMV to register your out-of-state vehicle within 90 days of your arrival.

In addition to applying for a license plate, you're also required to purchase validation tags.

Validation Tags for Colorado License Plates

You need to obtain registration tabs to validate your registered vehicle. If you're driving a car, van, or truck, you'll be required to have plates on both the front and back of your vehicle.

These tags are valid for 12 months and need to be renewed each year.

Renewing Colorado License Plate Tags

Since your tags are only valid for 12 months, you are expected to renew them before they expire. Failure to do so would put you in the position of driving illegally, which has financial consequences.

You can renew your vehicle’s tags by applying online, sending an application in the mail, or visiting the DMV in person.

Renewal fees will vary depending on your vehicle and type of license plate.

Types of License Plates in Colorado

The types of license plates available in Colorado are as follows:

  • Standard License Plates
  • Personalized License plates
  • Specialized License Plates
  • Disability License Plates

Temporary License Plates in Colorado

If you're purchasing a new vehicle or waiting for your plates to be sent, you must obtain a temporary permit or license plate which allows you to drive your vehicle.

You should visit the DMV before purchasing a vehicle, unless you're going to a dealership. Most dealerships will provide you with a temporary permit to drive your car home and to the DMV.

Temporary license plates and permits are usually valid for up to 60 days.

Applying for a License Plate in Colorado

When you register your vehicle at the DMV in Colorado, you should bring along the following:

  • Valid car insurance
  • Valid piece of ID (driver's license, passport, etc.)
  • Emissions test results and certification
  • Proof of purchase and title
  • Money to pay for fees and taxes

Each county has different requirements for the registration of your vehicle. Please contact the nearest DMV to get more information.

Note: Counties of Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, Jefferson, Adams, Arapahoe, Larimer, and Weld require that emissions tests be passed before you can register a vehicle.

Costs of License Plates in Colorado

The costs connected to license plates in Colorado vary from county to county. You’ll have to contact your county’s DMV to get an accurate quote, but here’s a quick list of how they determine your fees:

  • Sales Tax: You will be charged based on the amount of money you spent on your vehicle.
  • License fee: You will be charged based on the weight, date of purchase, and taxable value of your vehicle.
  • Ownership Tax: You will be charged a percentage based on what your vehicle was worth brand-new (i.e., personal property tax).

When you register your vehicle, you may be able to pay for any applicable fees using cash, MasterCard, Discover Card, or VISA.

Specialty License Plates in Colorado

If you’re not satisfied with the standard license plate offered by the state of Colorado, you can choose from an assortment of specialty styles. Here are just a few choices:

  • Horseless Carriage License Plates
  • Street Rod License Plates
  • Vietnam Veteran Tag
  • U.S. Army License Plate
  • Air Force Academy License Plate [$50 annual fee]
  • Western State College License Plate
  • Colorado State University License Plate [min. $100 donation required]
  • Support the Troops License Plate
  • Adopt a Shelter License Plate [includes $30 donation to Pet Overpopulation Fund]

There are more specialty plates to choose from in Colorado. You must apply for the plate you want and be eligible in the case of qualifying plates, such as any war veteran plates. You must also pay any additional fees that are included with these specialty plates.

Personalizing Colorado License Plates

Instead of getting a fancy license plate, you can choose to put a clever phrase or unique string of characters on the front and back of your vehicle. These are known as vanity plates, and you are required to:

  1. Explain the meaning of your license plate number
  2. Not use offensive or misleading numbers
  3. Avoid plate numbers already in use
  4. Use up to 7 characters
  5. Choose a combination of letters, numbers, spaces, dashes, and dots

If you fail to explain the meaning of your license plate, your application for a personalized plate may be declined.

The cost for these plates is an additional $50 on top of your standard registration fees. Renewing these plates costs only $25 and your regular renewal rates.

Replacing Stolen or Missing Colorado License Plates

If your license plates are missing, or if you believe them to be stolen, go immediately to the police and file a report. Then take a copy of this report to a local DMV in your county and submit the following:

  • Form DR 2283: Lost or Stolen License Plate/Permit
  • Payment for fees [different for each county]

You should always report your missing plates to the police to prevent misuse and abuse.

How to look up Colorado license plates

You can search for license plates in Colorado for free. Go to FindByPlate to start a search and obtain information about license plate availability, history, and more.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to look up Colorado License Plates and report bad drivers:

  1. Open a web browser
  2. Go to
  3. Enter the plate number, and select state
  4. View the report
  5. View images submitted by the community
  6. View videos submitted by the community
  7. Add comments
  8. Add pictures of the vehicle
  9. Add videos related to the vehicle