As the move to Colorado creeps closer, I’m starting to get into the nitty-gritty details that play a role in moving to a new state. These are the things you don’t think about when you’re switching apartment or moving to the next town over. It’s the forgotten costs, the annoying things that add up not only in cost, but in tedious to-do items on your list. They are the pieces I want to get out of the way, but can’t because I have to be an official Colorado resident first. And frankly, waiting is the worst part!
Moving to a New State
Any time you move to a new state, you are expected to establish yourself there. You get a new driver’s license, you change your voter registration, and you get new tags for your car. But it doesn’t have to be done the minute you get there. Most places give you some buffer time to get settled and established before you’re expected to make roots. Granted, no one is going to come a’knocking if you miss these deadlines, by why not get it out of the way?
Step 1: Establish Residency
To be considered a resident in Colorado, you must meet one of the following requirements:
- Own or operate a business in Colorado
- Be gainfully employed in Colorado
- Reside in Colorado for 90 consecutive days
For Colorado, after establishing residency, you have 30 days to get your new driver’s license and 90 days to re-tag your car.
But here’s the thing: after 90s days in town, you don’t just show up to the DMV and ask for your new license. States require documentation you’re a resident. Want that new driver’s license? You’ve got to prove it.
Step 2: Changing Your Driver’s License
Hate that picture on your driver’s license? Well, good news! If you’re moving to a new state, you’ll have to get a new license and that means a new picture! It also means a trip to the DMV, and you’ll want to know exactly what to bring with you so you only have to make that trip once.
Do I have to take a driving or written test?
Many states will require you to take a written test, even if you have a valid license from another state. Usually, it’s to make sure you’re aware of any unusual local driving laws.
In Colorado, no testing is required if you hold a valid driver license from any U.S. state, Canada, France, Germany or the Republic of South Korea.
Ahh, there’s nothing like standing in line at the DMV only to get to the window and realize you’ve forgotten something you need. This is what rage and nightmares are made of.
To avoid this (in Colorado), make sure you have:
- Your valid out of state driver license. (Have a birth certificate and a passport with you just in case.)
- Proof of your Social Security number. (Social Security Card [not laminated], W-2 form, SSA-1099 form, etc.)
- Proof of current physical Colorado address.
- Money to pay your application fee. (Cash or card — double check to make sure they accept either one.)
For proof of address, you’ll need two things from the following list:
- Computer Generated Bill (utility, credit card, doctor, hospital, etc.)
- Bank Statement
- Pre-Printed Pay Stub
- First-Class Mail (government agency or court)
- Current Homeowner’s, Renter’s, or Motor Vehicle Insurance Policy
- Mortgage, Lease, or Rental Contract
- Transcript or Report Card from an Accredited School
- Motor Vehicle Registration
- USPS Change Of Address Form (CNL107) W-2, SSA-1099, Non-SSA-1099
(Note: All documents presented must be dated within one year of application.)
And sure, for most people, this isn’t an issue. You have a lease or a mortgage, and probably a utility bill. But I’ve run into a bit of a problem. I’m not renting since I’m keeping an eye on my parent’s house and all the utility bill are in their name. And I’m self-employed, so I won’t have any pay stubs. All the easy documents are out… But even when you don’t seem to have roots, one thing follows you: your money.
I’ll be able to prove residency and my address by changing it on my banking and credit card statements. So I’m all set, but I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a brief moment of panic when I realized how my abnormal situation was making it harder to prove my residency.
That should be all you need! Snap that new picture, be a good person and opt to be an organ donor, and you’re good to go! (Don’t forget to change your voter registration!)
Step 3: Registering Your Car
This is probably the most complicated part of moving to a new place because it requires multiple steps, tons of documentation, and probably paying way more than you thought you’d have to. Make sure to visit a DMV office in the county where you reside.
You need to have with you:
- Vehicle identification number (VIN) verification (Form DR 2698), if your vehicle was titled in another state
- Either the car’s title or current vehicle registration certificate
- Secure and verifiable identification (e.g., U.S. passport, driver’s license, or valid US military ID)
- Proof of passing an emissions test, if applicable
- Proof of car insurance
- Payment for your CO vehicle registration fees
You can get a VIN verification done at all law enforcement offices, car dealerships, and certain automotive care and repair businesses. There will be fees charged for VIN verifications, and prices vary from place to place. In Colorado, you’ll need this form which must be filled out by a law enforcement officer, a licensed car dealer, or a licensed CO emissions testing station agent.
Depending on what county you live in, you may need to get your vehicle’s emissions tested to make sure they comply with local laws. Luckily, you can knock this and the VIN verification out at the same place! Check to see if you’ll need one.
It’s always important to double check what requirements your new state has for car insurance. Sure, you have it from the last place you lived and most companies will let you switch over to the new state’s plans, but keep in mind that the price of your plan may change! It’s a great opportunity to reevaluate what you need and don’t need.
Colorado drivers must have liability insurance, which covers only the other car and/or driver when an accident is your fault, and liability coverage at the following minimums:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury.
- $50,000 per accident for bodily injury.
- $15,000 per accident for property damage.
The DMV will accept any of the following as proof of insurance:
- Insurance card
- Copy of car insurance policy
- Printout or fax of insurance policy
- Image of auto insurance card on a cellular phone
- E-mail from insurer
Taxes and Fees
This is the most frustrating part…because to bring your car in from another state, you get to pay a bunch of additional fees, including:
- License fee – Based upon your vehicle’s weight, purchase date and taxable value.
- Sales tax – Based on your vehicle’s net purchase price.
- Ownership tax – This is a personal property tax based on the worth of your vehicle when it was brand new.
And while some counties will allow you to estimate your costs ahead of time, you won’t know the exact amount until you’re there in person. However, expect to spend a few hundred dollars, depending on your car.
Bonus: Health Insurance
I’ve mentioned before that health insurance is a non-negotiable for me, especially since I’m self-employed and have to purchase it through the exchange. It’s important to note that when buying insurance through the exchange, you are buying state-specific insurance….which means you must be a resident before you can apply.
So, if you’re like me (currently uninsured), then establishing residency and apply for health insurance should be one of the first things you do when you get to town. Sign up on the Colorado-specific exchange so you can get a head start.
More on this after I finally get out to CO!
Hopefully this was a helpful list! Whether you’re moving to Colorado or somewhere else, you’ll want to keep these in the back of your head for when you get to town. Moving is exciting, but also deeply tedious and frustrating. Better to be prepared than surprised!
Are you moving to Colorado, too? Awesome! Send me an email, we should totally meetup!