Buying and Selling a Vehicle
Three picture banner: family buying a car, person holding a For Sale sign, and young teenager in a convertible

Appointments now required for in-person visits. Additionally, registration renewals need to be completed out of office. Options include online, by mail or drop box, or at a self-service kiosk. Read about these changes (including benefits, and FAQs). Información en español.

Buying & Selling a Vehicle

Buying a vehicle from a private party or planning to sell yours? Review our checklists to set you and the other party up for success. Once you’ve purchased the vehicle, visit our Recently Purchased Vehicles page and make an appointment to visit one of our offices.

Buyer's Checklist - Purchase from a Private Party:

  • The seller must provide you with a Bill of Sale.
  • The bill of sale must be signed by the seller. Getting it notarized is optional.
  • A new emissions inspection is required when a vehicle that is 7 years old or older changes ownership.
  • If you are buying a vehicle that requires emissions testing, an unused passing emissions certificate is required to register the vehicle.
    • An unused passing emissions certification has both a top portion and bottom portion.
  • You will need a new certificate even if the previous owner completed one for registration renewal recently.

You must register recently purchased vehicles as soon as possible. Vehicles registered after 60 days from purchase date will be assessed late fees. You cannot legally drive the car more than 36 hours from purchase other than to your home (from point of sale) then to our office to register the vehicle.

  • Ideally, schedule an appointment in advance of your purchase. You can always cancel or reschedule if the purchase does not happen or is delayed.
  • If you have already purchased, search for a same or next day appointment. If none exist at any of our three branch locations, we will take walk-in visits for this service (private party purchase), though you may experience a long wait time.
  • Carry the Bill of Sale and Proof of Insurance in the vehicle until registration is complete. It is not recommended you drive your new vehicle anywhere other than to your home (or place of storage) and/or to our office to be registered.
  • If you purchased the vehicle at a time when our offices are closed (on a weekend, legal holiday, or between 5pm and 7:30am), you may legally drive the vehicle from the seller’s place to your home (or wherever you intend to store your vehicle).
  • The seller’s license plates are not transferable to the buyer.
  • Registration late fees do not apply until after 60 days.

Please see our Vehicle Registration page for additional items required to register your vehicle.

Seller's Checklist:

  • Be careful to properly endorse the title. The title must be filled out correctly to be valid.
  • Please review these instructions for how to transfer a title to a new owner.
  • If you make a mistake on the title or have lost/damaged your title, you must apply immediately for a Duplicate Title.
  • Complete TWO Bills of Sale – one for the buyer and one for your records.
  • The bills of sale must be signed by the seller. Getting it notarized is optional.
  • A new emissions inspection is required when a vehicle changes ownership.
  • When you sell a vehicle that requires emissions testing, you must provide the buyer with a new passing emissions certificate at the time of sale.
  • You need to provide a new certificate even if the old one has time remaining on it.
  • You must remove your license plates when you sell your vehicle (in Colorado, the plates belong to the seller, not the vehicle).
  • The buyer can legally drive without plates (within 36 hours of the sale) to the local motor vehicle office or to their residence (if after-hours or on the weekend). They must carry the Bill of Sale and Proof of Insurance and register the vehicle as soon as possible.
  • You may be able to reuse your specialty license plate when you register a new vehicle. If you can’t, the license plates are yours to keep. You can turn them into our office for recycling, use them for art or decoration around your home. If you are disposing of your license plates, it’s best to destroy them so they cannot be used fraudulently.
  • If the plates aren’t expired, you may be able to receive credit for the remaining time on the tabs when registering a new vehicle or renewing a vehicle you already own.
  • The vehicle will continue to show you as the owner until the new buyer goes into their local Motor Vehicle office to change the title.
  • To remove your liability for the buyer’s actions involving the vehicle after the sale is complete, you may voluntarily report a transfer of ownership online within five days of sale ((C.R.S. 42-6-109(3)).

Fraud Prevention Tips

Purchasing a vehicle from an individual can mean you get a good deal, but you need to be cautious. Be sure to check the vehicle’s VIN to learn the history before you purchase the vehicle. Take the following steps to protect yourself:

  1. Collect the VIN number and model/model year/make from buyer.
  2. Confirm the vehicle has not been reported as stolen.
  3. Research the vehicle’s history.
  4. Make sure the vehicle has not been declared a total loss (Salvage or Junked title). If the title indicates “salvage” or “junked” it cannot be registered.
  5. Beware of odometer readings. The odometer reading from the dashboard of the vehicle should be higher than what is listed on the front of the title. If it seems unusual, ask questions.
  6. Any vehicle older than 7-year-old needs an unused emissions test (unused means not used to renew registration in the last year – see additional info on this page). It is the seller’s responsibility to provide an emissions test result to you (Vehicle Inspection Report), which must be done through at an AirCare Colorado location (not online or out of state).
  7. Do NOT drive away without a vehicle title. Without a title, you don’t own the vehicle.
  8. Keep contact information from the seller in case you need to contact them again. Consider taking a photo of their driver’s license for confirmation of identity.
  9. The plates belong to the seller. They should take the plates back from the vehicle before you drive away. Legally, you can drive for from the point of the sale to your home (place of storing vehicle) and/or to our office for a period of 36 hours (see registration timeline for additional details).

For additional tips to protect yourself from motor vehicle fraud, please review the Department of Revenue website. Please contact us with any additional questions before purchasing.

Contact Us

Motor Vehicle Division

7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed Fridays
Online Motor Vehicle Contact Us Form
Contáctenos - Formulario en línea

Phone: 303-413-7710
Fax: 303-413-7706


Boulder: 1750 33rd St.
Map and Directions Boulder Location

Longmont: 529 Coffman St.
Map and Directions Longmont Location

Lafayette: 1755 S. Public Road
Map and Directions Lafayette Location

Mailing Address

1750 33rd St., Suite 100
Boulder, CO 80301