Learn about ways to get off campus by walking, biking, using a car or public transportation. If you’re interested in exploring the area with other internationals, make sure to sign up for INTLinfo to receive updates on the latest trips & outings we are planning–most provide transportation.
Obtaining a Driver’s License
If you will be in the U.S. longer than 90 days and intend to drive, you are required to get a Colorado driver’s license, even if you already have an International Driver’s License.
Any person who operates a motor vehicle, motor-driven cycle or moped on the public streets & highways in Colorado is required to be at least 16 years of age and have a valid driver license. Many international students choose to get a driver’s license while studying in the U.S. More information from ISSS on the Driver’s License can be found at this link: Driver’s License Information.
Apply for a Colorado Driver’s License or Colorado ID:
- Submit these documents: a valid Foreign Passport, I-94 information printed from CBP website, and either F-1 or J-1 school documents (I-20 or DS2019). Photocopies or notarized copies are not accepted.
- Proof of a Colorado residence address. Bring an official piece of mail (bill, statement, etc.) with your name and address.
- For Driver’s License Only: Pass all required examinations. (This is not necessary for obtaining a CO State ID.)
DRIVING RECORD ANALYSIS: The Motor Vehicle Division examines your driving record and current driver’s license status to determine eligibility before issuing a new license.
PHYSICAL APTITUDE ANALYSIS: This is a determination, by the driver license employee, of any physical ailment or disability that may have an effect on your driving. A Confidential Medical Examination Report is required for many physical ailments or disabilities such as epilepsy or paralysis.
VISION SCREENING: Your vision will be tested to determine if you can see well enough to drive safely. If the test indicates you need corrective lenses to meet the minimum visual standards, your license will show this restriction. Failure to meet the minimum vision standard of 20/40 will result in initial rejection and referral to a vision specialist for correction and recommendations, at your own expense. Please bring your glasses or contact lenses with you to the DMV.
BASIC WRITTEN TEST: Test questions cover the contents of the driver’s license handbook including road signs, driving under the influence, and other driving and safety rules.
DRIVING TEST: This is the most important part of the examination, as you must demonstrate that you can drive safely (See Drive Test §13). You will be in your vehicle with an examiner who will evaluate your skills and awareness. An appointment is required for the driving test. The appointment can be scheduled on the DMV website.
- Be fingerprinted (C.R.S. 42-2-107) and photographed (C.R.S. 42-2-114).
- Pay the required fee. The current (August 2014) cost for obtaining a State of Colorado Identification card is $14.00. The current (August 2014) cost for obtaining a Colorado license is $50.50 and the cost for obtaining an instruction permit is $14.00. Separate fees are required for the Instruction Permit and the Driver License.
There are many private companies that will provide Driver’s Education Instruction in Fort Collins; the DMV offers a list of nearby driving schools on their website: http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/Revenue-MV/RMV/1186129986882
Important recent changes to Colorado driver’s license policy:
- Students cannot use their Colorado driver’s license as federal ID, so international students will need to use their passports to travel on an airplane or enter a federal building.
- Students no longer need a SSN or rejection letter before going to the DMV, but the DMV will still be verifying their status in SAVE so they should wait at least 10 days after arriving in the U.S. before applying for a license.
- Students who have a license from another state will need to switch to the Colorado license (but do not need to take the written or driving tests as long as their out-of-state license is still valid).
- The driver’s license is valid for 3 years, regardless of the dates on their immigration documents.
- The fee for a driver’s license is $50.50. The fee for an instruction permit is $14. Students who are applying for a license for the first time (not renewing a previously-issued Colorado license or transferring a license from another state) will first need to get an instruction permit and need to pay the permit fee as well as the license fee. State IDs are $14.
- Students do not need an appointment for the written test. They can bring an interpreter to the appointment and to the written test. The interpreter must be over the age of 16 and have a valid license. They cannot come to the driving test.
- Students do need to make an appointment for the driving test and should use the blue buttons on the DMV website to make their appointment (the blue buttons are for people who can prove lawful presence, and the orange buttons are for people who cannot).
- This information applies to any resident alien, not just “students” who will be in Colorado for longer than 90 days.
Resources for Driving in the US
Fort Collins is a beautiful city, but to get out into the surrounding areas, you will find a car useful. Below are some helpful things to know about using a car in Fort Collins.
Driving in the US: Learn about US driving laws, staying safe on the road, driving in severe weather, and more.
Zip Car: Students with a valid drivers license may purchase a $25 annual membership with Zip-Car, an on-demand car-sharing service that charges discounted rates to students 18 and older. Rates start at $7.50/hour or $69/day.
Carpooling: Explore various carpool options to see if they work for you. Carpooling is where you share a car with somebody else going to your same destination.
Navigation: Google Maps is an easy way to determine the best driving route to take.
What to do if you are pulled over by Police:
Anyone with a driver’s license should read these tips from CSU Legal Services. Please note, you should always stay in the car with your hands on the steering wheel until the police officer asks otherwise; just roll down your window to talk instead of opening your door.
Registering your Vehicle:
If you purchase a vehicle, you must register it with the Department of Motor Vehicles. For additional information on how to register your vehicle, visit: www.dmv.org/co-colorado/vehicle-registration.php
Proof of Insurance:
Vehicle insurance is mandatory in the state of Colorado. You must provide proof of insurance to your county clerk and recorder before you can register your vehicle. You may use your insurance card, copy of your insurance policy or a letter from your insurance company (on the company’s letterhead paper), as proof of insurance.
Car Buying Tips
Most motor vehicle purchasing problems occur because of two things: 1) poor communication between customers and dealers, and 2) major misunderstandings by customers of what their obligations are. Few complaints involve fraud.
It is important that you think through your purchase decision and understand what your obligations and rights are. Do your homework and be an educated consumer!
- Determine the type of vehicle you want, need, and can afford. How will the vehicle be used? What optional equipment do you need?
- Shop around! In addition to the price of the vehicle, consider the cost of insurance, maintenance expenses, financing, etc. Get all the facts you need to make a good decision.
- Consider how you are going to pay for the vehicle. Cash, loan, amount of down payment? Shop for the financing just as you shop for the car. Compare all the terms of financing, not just the monthly payments. Pay attention to the interest rate, number of months, down payment, amount of finance charge and total price.
- There is NO AUTOMATIC RIGHT TO CANCEL a vehicle purchase within three days.
- Most used vehicles are sold “as is,” without any guarantee or warranty. It is important that you or a qualified mechanic thoroughly inspect the vehicle before buying.
- Dealers must post a Buyer’s Guide on all used vehicles. This window sticker will tell you if the vehicle is being sold “as is” or with a warranty, and the terms of that warranty. It will also indicate if a service contract is available for the vehicle.
- Federal law requires that new cars, station wagons and vans display a label showing the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). This label gives you an idea of where to begin negotiating on price and provides a benchmark for comparing prices between makes and models. Dealers may also add a supplemental label for dealer-added equipment, handling charges, extra profit, and similar fees.
- There are various publications which quote relative values for used vehicles. These so-called “book” prices can be used as guidelines for pricing. However, many factors, including mileage, condition, equipment and age affect the specific price for a vehicle.
- GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING! To avoid misunderstanding, get all promises in writing on the contract that you sign. If repairs or accessories are promised, specify a date of completion and have it written in the contract.
- Read and understand all the terms of the contract before signing. Do not sign anything that has not been filled out completely. Get a copy of everything that you sign when you sign it.
- Read each section of the “Disclosures As Part of a Motor Vehicle Sales Contract” form before signing.
- The bottom line price after trading is the important figure. Negotiate your deal with and without your trade-in. Consider selling your old car yourself.
- Colorado law requires a dealer to sell vehicles in a safe condition (tires, brakes, lights, horn, muffler, wipers, etc.)
- New vehicles are covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. Make sure you receive a copy. You are responsible for the maintenance to keep the coverage in effect.
- Extended service contracts are usually available for purchase. Study the policy or contract carefully and ask the following questions:
- Who does the work?
- Is any authorization necessary?
- What if you’re from out of town?
- Is there a deductible amount or service fee?
- How is payment made?
- What maintenance are you responsible for?
- Can you cancel and get a refund?
- Is the service contract transferable if you sell the car?
- How reputable is the company providing the coverage?
- Do they have a local representative?
- How long have they been in business?
- If you make a deposit on a vehicle and want it to be refundable, make sure that this is written into the sales contract or purchase option that you sign.
- Lease or buy? Leasing is comparable to renting. You are paying for the use of the vehicle, but you do not build any equity (ownership). Again, do your homework to determine which is best for you.
- A “high pressure” sale, by itself, is not illegal. Don’t be reluctant to bargain and don’t be hesitant to say “NO” or walk out. After all, it’s your money.
There is no free parking on campus during the day, though many lots do not require permits after 4pm. Be aware that CSU parking permits are for specific zones only. If you live off campus, you are eligible to purchase a “Z” permit. Students who live in the Residence Halls or the CSU Apartments are given a special permit from the area office. Permits are not valid in metered zones, where you must always pay at the meter. Upon receipt of your parking permit, you will need to IMMEDIATELY place it in the front windshield of your car.
Permits may be purchased by the day, month, or year at the University Parking Services located in the Lake Street Parking Garage. Visit the Parking Services website for more information and to purchase a permit.
Off Campus Parking:
Many apartment complexes around town also require a parking permit. Always look for signs as you enter a parking lot or park in a space, to see if they require any permit, or if the space is open to the public. If you park where you’re not supposed to, your car is at risk of being towed, and you could be fined hundreds of dollars. Make sure that if you have visitors with a car, tell them about parking rules as well–many internationals get fines because they were not aware of parking restrictions.
Loading zones may be used only if you are loading or unloading property or passengers.Loading zones are not considered parking places. On campus, they have a 20-minute time limit. Off campus, around Fort Collins, the time limit is 30 minutes before you receive a ticket, and you must leave your flashers on.
Look at the trail map of Fort Collins to see if there are trails you can take to get to and from campus.
The CSU campus is a pedestrian and bike-friendly campus. Fewer than half of the students bring a car to campus, but 80% register a bike. If you wish to spend some time comparison-shopping for used bicycles, we recommend borrowing a bike from theFort Collins Bike Library.
This wonderful organization allows anyone to borrow a bicycle, a helmet, and a bike lock for free for up to 7 days. Sign up online to become a member, make a reservation in advance if you wish, then stop by their location in Old Town Square during their business hours to sign the waiver and provide a credit card deposit. The deposit is not a charge to your credit card unless something drastic happens to the bike. Then you can take your bike and go!
Check out the “Biking to CSU” page for maps and tips for biking around Fort Collins. The Off Campus Life office also has resources for where to rent and buy bicycles. There is also a free bike repair service on campus.
You must register your bike with the CSU Police Department if you’re riding or parking on campus. They have a good resource page about lost and found, bicycle safety, and ways to pay for bicycle traffic violations. You CAN get a ticket for not following bicycle traffic laws, which are generally the same as other vehicle rules–ride on the right side of the road, signal for turns, stop at stop-signs, etc.
Bike safety tips:
As a bicyclist, it is always important to adhere to these common bike safety tips:
- Bicycles are considered vehicles in Colorado state law.
- Obey all traffic signs, including stop signs.
- Make sure you’re going the correct way on a one-way road.
- If biking at night, wear at least one headlightand display at least one rear reflector.
- Make sure to dismount in a dismount zone.
- Be visible at night: wearing bright colored clothes can increase your visibility when biking at night.
- Register your bike through CSUPD.
- It is highly recommended that you wear a helmet.
CSU Transit Center: The local bus system, Transfort, has a hub on campus on the north side of the Lory Student Center. Their help-desk is staffed from 8 to 5pm every weekday. They can help you figure out the bus system, and also provide bus schedules. For more information, call 970-221-6620.
Campus Shuttle: Around the Horn is a free campus shuttle. It runs a fixed route every ten minutes between 13 stops around the north and east sides of campus.
The MAX: The MAX Bus Rapid Transit runs north-south along the Mason St/College Avenue corridor, facilitating transportation between historic Old Town and southern Fort Collins in under 20 minutes. MAX runs Monday through Saturday, 5am to midnight, with buses every 10 minutes. See the bus route and times here.
Bus to Denver: The Bustang is a new bus that runs Monday through Friday, taking you from Fort Collins to Denver for $10, and even to the mountains as far as Glenwood Springs for a low price.