How to Get a Colorado Temporary License Plate

You can get a temporary permit in Colorado from a dealership or apply at your county DMV office for a private sale.
Written by Mary Alice Morris
Edited by Bellina Gaskey
Reviewed by Georgina Grant
If you’re buying a car in the state of
, you’ll either get a temporary permit right away from the dealership or have to go to your county motor vehicle department after a private sale. 
  • A dealership will issue 60-day temporary tags through the DRIVES program. These can be extended for 30 days if your permanent plates are delayed.
  • If you buy from a private seller, you can legally drive the vehicle for 36 hours without tags to give you time to get temporary tags from the DMV.

Does Colorado issue temporary plates?

You can get temporary Colorado license plates directly from your dealership when you purchase a new car. If the sale is private, you’ll have to visit your local DMV to apply for temporary plates. 
Unless you buy from a dealership, your temporary plates must come from your county motor vehicle office. If you go to the motor vehicle office in a different county, they won’t be able to issue you temporary plates. 
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How to get a temporary license plate in Colorado

If you buy from a dealership, they will use the state’s
program to issue your temporary plates. These will be good for 60 days while you complete the title transfer and registration process. 
If there’s a hangup after the dealership purchase, you can apply for a 30-day extension from your county division of motor vehicles while you wait for a permanent license plate.
Temporary tags from private car sales are a little more complicated. Let’s look at that next.

Temporary registration for private sales in Colorado

If you’ve bought your vehicle from a private party in Colorado, you may legally drive without temporary plates or registration for 36 hours. During this timeframe, you need to carry a bill of sale with the vehicle identification number (VIN) and
proof of car insurance
When you arrive at the DMV office, they’ll issue temporary tags with a 60-day expiration date once you provide the following information: 
  • Proof of identity
  • A copy of the signed vehicle’s
    and bill of sale to prove your ownership
  • Proof of insurance
However, there is no grace period upon the expiration and no extensions are available. Once the temporary tags are expired, you must have a valid registration and license plate. 

Can I drive a car without plates if I just bought it in Colorado? 

Yes—under very limited circumstances. You can drive newly purchased vehicles in Colorado without plates or registration for up to 36 hours under any of the following conditions:
  • You bought the vehicle from someone who is not a licensed auto dealer
  • You purchased the car on Saturday, Sunday, a legal holiday, or between the hours of 5 p.m. and 8 a.m., when vehicle services offices are closed
  • You’re driving the car from the seller’s storage area to your own storage area
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