License plates. Photo by Flickr user PK Prothe

Tips for the Boulder DMV


There might not be any “Zootopia” sloths running this office, but a visit to the DMV isn’t exactly high on most people’s Boulder bucket list.

But you might be surprised to learn that Boulder’s DMV doesn’t have the same bad reputation as many other branches. Its customer reviews are largely positive; people are often surprised by how fast it goes and how friendly the staff members are.

Still, there are some things you can do to assure your experience at the Boulder DMV runs as smoothly as possible.

1. Make an appointment in advance.

Sure, you can show up, take a number and sit in line all day. Or for many purposes, you can book an appointment online in advance and save a ton of time. Pick a date and time online and skip the people-watching. (Sorry, you can’t make an appointment in advance to renew your vehicle.)

The Boulder DMV is located at 2850 Iris Ave. The Longmont DMV is at 917 S. Main St., unit 600. They are both open 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

2. Try self-serve.

While you can’t book an appointment to renew your car, you can use the self-service kiosk in Boulder to speed up the time. The kiosk is even open at 7 a.m., one hour before the counter opens, so you can get it done before work. Need to get it done even earlier, on a Sunday or at an unusual time? You can find a kiosk at the King Soopers in Longmont at 1611 Pace St., and it’s open 5 a.m. to midnight seven days a week.

A surprising fact: You don’t have to be a Boulder County resident to use these kiosks. They’re available for people in many neighboring counties.

Money-saving tip: Bring cash for the kiosk at the Boulder Clerk and Recorder. There’s a small charge for checks and credit or debit cards, and there’s also a similar fee if you renew online. Unfortunately, you can’t use cash at the Longmont kiosk (and the fee to use this service is much higher than Boulder’s); Longmont’s kiosk is ideal for people short on time, who don’t mind paying a little upcharge for that convenience.

A car parked northwest of Boulder. Photo by Flickr user Don O’Brien

3. Renew online.

There’s rarely a reason to renew your car in person at the DMV. You can also renew by mail or online.

4. Come when it’s slow.

Make sure you don’t head to the DMV when the lines are the longest. You can actually check the wait times online in live time. Click on the Boulder or Longmont DMV and it will direct you to a link where you can see how many people there are currently in line and what is the average wait time to be served. This time is determined by the average wait over the past hour.

While every DMV is different, generally speaking, the best times to visit are as early as possible in the morning (before the lunch break rush) or later (after the lunch rush, starting around 2 p.m.). Earlier is usually slower than later.

The beginning and end of the month also tend to be the busiest, because IDs and car registrations expire at the end of the month, so make it a plan to come in the middle of the month.

Also, the day before or after a holiday tends to be busier than usual. The slowest days of the week tend to be Wednesday and Thursday.

Some people recommend arriving 31 minutes before closing time, because they say staff will work extra fast at the end of the day to make sure they don’t have to stay past closing time. Just don’t arrive too late. (We aren’t necessarily endorsing this impolite choice.)

5. Make sure you have your papers in order.

Before you do anything, make sure you have all the documents necessary; there’s nothing worse than waiting for hours in line only to learn you forgot proof of residency or your proof of emissions test.

6. Know your deadlines.

If you’re new to town, make sure you know when your paperwork is due. For example, new Colorado residents have to register their car within 90 days of moving here. If you don’t, late fees really start to pile up.

A VW Bus that somehow made it up Trail Ridge Road. Photo by Aimee Heckel

7. Need more help? The DMV has a ton of videos and resources to help you with issues that may come up.

Make sure you get your facts from reliable websites, too. Look for websites that have and/or in the URL.

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