vehicle registration

 

 

 


Registering a motor vehicle in Iowa

Looking for interstate registration for commercial vehicles?

Iowa law requires you to register your motor vehicle with the county treasurer's office in your county within 30 days from the date you establish residency. Iowa registration is required even though your license plates may still be valid in another state.

The following documents are required to be surrendered to the county treasurer's office:

  1. Your current ownership document (certificate of title).
  2. A completed application for an Iowa certificate of title and/or registration. The application must be signed by all owners. If there is a lien against the vehicle, it should be noted on the application.

You will want to contact your county treasurer's office for information regarding registration fees. If you move from one county to another, you must report your change of address to the county treasurer in your former county of residence within 10 days after your move so your motor vehicle registration information can be forwarded to the county where you now live.


Federal safety label required on all vehicles to be titled and registered

A vehicle is required to have a manufacturer's label attached to the vehicle, certifying that it meets all the federal safety standards, if the vehicle is to be titled and registered for use on a highway. If there is no manufacturer's label, the vehicle will not be titled or registered in Iowa.

The language found in Iowa Code 321.30(15) reads, "Unless otherwise provided for in this chapter, the department or the county treasurer shall refuse registration and issuance of a certificate of title unless the vehicle bears a manufacturer's label pursuant to 49 C.F.R. pt. 567 certifying that the vehicle meets federal motor vehicle safety standards."

Bonded vehicles

If your vehicle cannot be titled or registered by your county treasurer because you do not have the proper title documents, you may be able to file a bond as a condition of obtaining a title and registration plates.

Go to the bonded certificate of
title page


 


 

 


License plates

Ordering your specialty/personalized plates
There are two ways to order your specialty/personalized plates: online or by mail.

 Order online checkmark
Personalize your license plate, check availability, and reserve it. If it is available and approved, your plates will be manufactured and delivered to the county treasurer's office in the county where you live. You will be notified when the plates are ready to be picked up.

Order Online

 Order by mail checkmark
Complete the Special Plate Application form, print and mail with the fees that are due.

Order By Mail

License plate holders or frames
Iowa Code Section 321.37(3) states that "It is unlawful for the owner of a vehicle to place any frame around or over the registration plate which does not permit full view of all numerals and letters print on the registration plate."


Plates pending start-up fees
A law was passed providing for the following new plates.
Before any of the new seven plates can be applied for or manufactured, the following requirements must be met.
  • Each plate must have 250 start-up orders requesting a plate type accompanied by a $20 processing fee. (The $20 processing fee is separate from the plate fee and therefore cannot be credited to any of the special license plates once they are available.)   
  • The plates will not be available and cannot be applied for until the required 250 start-up orders have been received.
  • Applications for the start-up orders can be obtained online at Application for the 2011 Legislative License Plate Start-up Fee Orders, by calling the Office of Vehicle & Motor Carrier Services at 515-237-3110, faxing a request to 515-237-3056 or by e-mailing at vehser@dot.iowa.gov.

Note: As required by legislation authorizing production of these plates, plates listed above may only be manufactured or issued after the department receives 250 start-up orders for the specific plate.

Once 250 start-up orders have been received and processed for a plate type, the application to order the actual plates will be available online, by calling the Iowa DOT's Office of Vehicle & Motor Carrier Services at 515-237-3110 or by e-mail at vehser@dot.iowa.gov.

The cost and restrictions for each plate type are as follows:

 
Fallen Officer plate artworkFallen Peace Officer plate
 
  • 250 paid $20 start-up orders requesting the Fallen Peace Officer plate must be received.
  • Application for actual Fallen Peace Officer plate completed once 250 start-up orders have been received.
  • Fee for a numbered regular plate with the emblem is $35 with a $10 renewal fee that is in addition to the regular annual registration fee.
  • Fee for a personalized plate with the emblem is $60 with a $15 renewal fee that is in addition to the regular annual registration fee.
  • Anyone who is the owner of a vehicle may apply.

The fees collected for these plates will be appropriated to the Iowa Department of Public Safety who in turn shall distribute the funds in the form of grants to nonprofit organizations that provide resources to assist in the rebuilding of the lives of surviving families and affected co-workers of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

PDFApplication for the 2011 Legislative License Plate Start-up
Fee Orders

Now available in production

Get the fallen peace officer plate
Civil War Sesquicentennial plate  Civil War Sesquicentennial plate
 
  • 250 paid $20 start-up orders requesting the Civil War Sesquicentennial plates must be received.
  • Application for actual the Civil War Sesquicentennial plate completed once 250 start-up orders have been received.
  • Fee for a numbered regular plate with the emblem is $25 with a $5 renewal fee that is in addition to the regular annual registration fee.
  • Fee for a personalized plate with the emblem is $50 with a $5 renewal fee that is in addition to the regular annual registration fee.
  • Anyone who is the owner of a vehicle may apply.

The fees collected for these plates will be appropriated to the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs to be used for the Iowa Battle Flag project.

PDFApplication for the 2011 Legislative License Plate Start-up
Fee Orders


24 start-up
orders received
Combat Infantryman Badge
Combat Infantryman
Badge plate
 
  • 250 paid $20 start-up orders requesting Combat Infantryman Badge plates must be received.
  • Application for actual Combat Infantryman Badge plate completed once 250 start-up orders have been received.
  • Fee for a numbered regular plate with the emblem is $25 with a $5 renewal fee that is in addition to the regular annual registration fee.
  • Fee for a personalized plate with the emblem is $50 with a $5 renewal fee that is in addition to the regular annual registration fee.
  • The owner of a vehicle who was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge may apply.
  • Must present satisfactory proof of the award when applying for the plate.

The fees collected for these plates will be appropriated to the Veterans License Fee Fund.

PDFApplication for the 2011 Legislative License Plate Start-up
Fee Orders


22 start-up
orders received
Combat Action Badge, Army
Combat Action Badge plate  
  • 250 paid $20 start-up orders requesting Combat Action Badge plates must be received.
  • Application for actual Combat Action Badge plate completed once 250 start-up orders have been received.
  • Fee for a numbered regular plate with the emblem is $25 with a $5 renewal fee that is in addition to the regular annual registration fee.
  • Fee for a personalized plate with the emblem is $50 with a $5 renewal fee that is in addition to the regular annual registration fee.
  • The owner of a vehicle who was awarded the Combat Action Badge may apply.
  • Must present satisfactory proof of the award when applying for the plate.

The fees collected for these plates will be appropriated to the Veterans License Fee Fund.

PDFApplication for the 2011 Legislative License Plate Start-up
Fee Orders


12 start-up
orders received
 Combat Action Ribbon
 
U.S. Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Marine Corp and U.S. Navy Combat Action Ribbon

U.S. Marine Corps/U.S. Navy

  • 250 paid $20 start-up orders requesting Combat Action Ribbon U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Marine Corps/U.S. Navy plates must be received.
  • Application for actual Combat Action Ribbon U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Marine Corps/U.S. Navy plate completed once 250 start-up orders have been received.
  • Fee for a numbered regular plate with the emblem is $25 with a $5 renewal fee that is in addition to the regular annual registration fee.
  • Fee for a personalized plate with the emblem is $50 with a $5 renewal fee that is in addition to the regular annual registration fee.
  • The owner of a vehicle who was awarded the Combat Action Ribbon may apply.
  • Must present satisfactory proof of the award when applying for the plate.

The fees collected for these plates will be appropriated to the Veterans License Fee Fund.

PDFApplication for the 2011 Legislative License Plate Start-up
Fee Orders


5 start-up
orders received
Air Force Combat Action MedalAirforce Combat Action Medal plate
 
  • 250 paid $20 start-up orders requesting Airforce Combat Action Medal plates must be received.
  • Application for actual Airforce Combat Action Medal plate completed once 250 start-up orders have been received.
  • Fee for a numbered regular plate with the emblem is $25 with a $5 renewal fee that is in addition to the regular annual registration fee.
  • Fee for a personalized plate with the emblem is $50 with a $5 renewal fee that is in addition to the regular annual registration fee.
  • The owner of a vehicle who was awarded the Airforce Combat Action Medal may apply.
  • Must present satisfactory proof of the award when applying for the plate.

The fees collected for these plates will be appropriated to the Veterans License Fee Fund.

PDFApplication for the 2011 Legislative License Plate Start-up
Fee Orders


0 start-up
orders received
Combat Medical Badge Combat Medical Badge plate
 
  • 250 paid $20 start-up orders requesting Combat Medical Badge plates must be received.
  • Application for actual Combat Medical Badge plate completed once 250 start-up orders have been received.
  • Fee for a numbered regular plate with the emblem is $25 with a $5 renewal fee that is in addition to the regular annual registration fee.
  • Fee for a personalized plate with the emblem is $50 with a $5 renewal fee that is in addition to the regular annual registration fee.
  • The owner of a vehicle who was awarded the Combat Medical Badge may apply.
  • Must present satisfactory proof of the award when applying for the plate.

The fees collected for these plates will be appropriated to the Veterans License Fee Fund.

PDFApplication for the 2011 Legislative License Plate Start-up
Fee Orders


3 start-up
orders received

 

 

 

 

 


Iowa's Persons with Disabilities Parking law

  • Plates are issued to an owner of a vehicle who is a person with a permanent disability; also issued to parent or guardian of a child with a disability if the child lives with parent or guardian.

  • Removable windshield placards are issued to a person with a disability on a temporary (six months) or permanent basis. Removable windshield placards may also be issued to an organization that transports persons with disabilities and/or elderly customers.

  • Stickers are issued to an owner of a motor vehicle who is a person with a disability who does not want a persons with disabilities license plate. The sticker is placed on the license plate in the lower-right corner of the rear plate. The sticker can be placed on any type of regular, special or personalized license plate in the lower-right corner of the rear plate.
Any Iowa resident with a disability that limits or impairs the person's ability to walk. A person shall be considered a person with a disability and can obtain a removable windshield placard, sticker or plate under the following circumstances.
  • The person cannot walk 200 feet without stopping to rest.
  • The person cannot walk without the use of, or assistance from, a brace, crutch, another person, prosthetic device, wheelchair or other assisting device.
  • The person is restricted by lung disease to such an extent that the person's forced expiratory volume for one second, when measured by spirometry, is less than one liter, or the arterial-oxygen tension is less than 60 mm/hg on room air at rest.
  • The person uses portable oxygen.
  • The person has a cardiac condition to the extent that the person's functional limitations are classified in severity as Class III or Class IV according to standards set by the American Heart Association.
  • The person is severely limited in the person's ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic condition.
Persons licensed to practice medicine in Iowa or in a contiguous state, including podiatrists, chiropractors, physician assistants or advanced nurse practitioners. The contiguous states are: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota.
There is no cost for the removable windshield placard, sticker or plate. However, motorists displaying a persons with disabilities plate will continue to pay their regular annual vehicle registration fee. There is a $25 fee for personalized plates.
  • Plates: Persons with disabilities plates must be validated each year with a self-certification by the owner stating the disability still exists for the owner or for the child.

  • Removable windshield placards: Temporary permits will expire six months from the date of issue, unless the physician indicates a date prior to six months; those which are permanent are nonexpiring.

  • Stickers: Valid as long as the motor vehicle registration is current.
  • Persons with disabilities plates may be issued to all vehicles titled in the person's name with a disability.
  • Two removable windshield placards may be issued for each person with a disability.
  • Persons with disabilities parking stickers may be issued to all vehicles titled in the person's name with a disability.
The law requires the permit holder's signature to be on the removable windshield placard for it to be valid and used when parking in a designated parking space.
  • Providing false information to obtain the removable windshield placard, sticker or plate may result in a $300 civil fine; the removable windshield placard, sticker or plate may also be revoked.
  • Parking in a designated space when there is not a person with a disability driving or riding in the vehicle may result in a $200 fine.
  • Failing to return the removable windshield placard, sticker or plate when the use is no longer needed, and then misusing it may result in a fine of up to $200

Requirements for the numbers and dimensions of accessible parking spaces are established by the Iowa Department of Public Safety. For further information, contact the regulatory assistance coordinator at 515-725-6145 or e-mail at regassist@dps.state.ia.us



Reduced registration fees for specially equipped vehicles for persons with disabilities

Iowa Code 321.109
Administrative Rules 761 IAC 400.35
The annual registration fee shall be $60 for a vehicle that is  an automobile, multipurpose vehicle, or motor truck with an unladen weight of 10,000 pounds or less with permanently installed equipment manufactured for and necessary to assist a disabled person with a disability who is either the owner or lessee of the vehicle or a member of the owner’s or lessee’s household in entry and exit of the vehicle or if the owner or lessee of the vehicle or a member of the owner’s or lessee’s household uses a wheelchair as the only means of mobility.

The owner shall complete an annual self-certification when the vehicle is registered.

The disabled person must be either the owner of the vehicle or a member of the owner's household and must qualify as permanently disabled pursuant to Iowa Code 321L to obtain a reduced registration fee.

For purposes of this paragraph, “uses a wheelchair” does not include use of a wheelchair due to a temporary injury or medical condition.

Download
related forms

Office of Vehicle & Motor Carrier Services

Office of Vehicle & Motor Carrier Services
Iowa Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 9278
Des Moines, Iowa 50306-9278
Telephone:
515-237-3110
E-mail: vehser@dot.iowa.gov

 

 

 

 


Bonded certificate of title

If your vehicle cannot be titled or registered by your county treasurer because you do not have the proper title documents, you may be able to file a bond as a condition of obtaining a title and registration plates. However, a vehicle issued a junking certificate cannot be reinstated through the bonding procedure unless the vehicle is 25 years or older, ref. Iowa Code 321.24. Submit the following to the Iowa DOT's Office of Vehicle & Motor Carrier Services, P.O. Box 9278, Des Moines, Iowa 50306-9278.

To avoid processing delays please submit the following required supporting documents:

  • An Application for Registration and Bonded Certificate of Title for a Vehicle form, completed and signed.
  • A copy of any written document received at the time the vehicle was acquired, such as a bill of sale or cancelled check.

The Iowa DOT will:

  • Determine whether there is an active title record or junking certificate record on file for the vehicle in the state of Iowa. If a record is found, the department shall notify the owner of the record by first-class mail, at the last known address, that an application for bonded certificate of title has been received. The notice shall include a statement in which the owner of record may assert their right to claim the vehicle or to waive any further claim. If the department receives no further response from the owner of record within 10 days after the date of the mailing or receives a waiver of further claim to the vehicle, the department will continue processing the bond.

  • Determine the current value of the vehicle and require that a cash bond or surety bond, based on one and one-half times the current value of the vehicle, be filed with the department as a condition of issuing a certificate of title and registration receipt. The bond paper showing the current value of the vehicle and the amount of the bond will be sent to you to be completed and signed by your surety company representative and also by you as the principal. The signed bond must be returned to the Office of Vehicle & Motor Carrier Services. Cash bonds may be deposited with the state and are held for three years on a noninterest bearing basis, or you may purchase a surety bond from a bonding company licensed to conduct business in the State of Iowa. Fees to obtain a surety bond through a bonding company are set by the company. Please refer to the bonding company for the fee to obtain your surety bond.

  • Send to the Iowa DOT's Bureau of Investigations and Identity Protection a bond receipt and a letter authorizing the county treasurer to issue a title for your vehicle. An investigator will contact you and make an appointment to verify that the information submitted on your application correctly identifies the vehicle that you own. Should your vehicle not meet the specific equipment requirements under Iowa Code Chapter 321, the investigator shall authorize the county treasurer to issue title and registration, and immediately suspend registration until such time your vehicle meets the specific equipment requirements. The investigator will give you the authorization letter that you must take to your county treasurer’s office within 30 days of written authorization from the department, make application for certificate of title, pay the appropriate fees and register your vehicle.

  • Hold the bond for three years, after which time the bond will expire and there is no requirement for a bond.

 

 

 

 


Salvage

Salvage theft examinations

Iowa law requires all vehicles designated "salvage" or have a "salvage" title to be physically examined by a "peace officer" who has been certified by the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy to conduct examinations.

The purpose of the salvage theft examination is to physically verify that no stolen parts were used to rebuild a vehicle. The exam is also used to authenticate ownership of the vehicle presented for examination. A typical salvage theft examination takes approximately 45 minutes, but may take several hours if the vehicle identification numbers are not easily accessible or there are problems with the ownership documents.

The physical examination of the vehicle will be performed by a peace officer with a local or county law enforcement agency who has been certified to perform these examinations. If you are requesting a salvage theft examination, you must call one of the agencies listed on the Agencies Conducting Salvage Theft Examinations document to schedule an appointment.

An Affidavit of Salvage Vehicle Repairs must be completed and presented to the examining officer prior to the examination commencing. These forms can be obtained from the examining officer, from this website, the Bureau of Investigation & Identity Protection headquarters, or your county treasurer's office. It will also be necessary to bring with you to the examination site all bills of sale, receipts, and invoices showing ownership to all parts used to rebuild the vehicle. A permit to drive the vehicle to the examination site is included on the affidavit and must be carried in the vehicle and presented to any peace officer if stopped.

The applicant must present to the examining officer an Iowa salvage title in the applicant's name or if the examination is performed within 30 days of the assignment of ownership, a properly assigned title is acceptable.

The fee for the salvage theft examination is $30.

Permit to drive for an inspection

A vehicle needing to be inspected by an Iowa DOT Bureau of Investigation & Identity Protection investigator must be brought to an Iowa DOT inspection facility. All vehicle inspections are conducted by appointment only on specified days and locations throughout Iowa. Unregistered vehicles may be driven or towed to the inspection facility, but the operator must have an Affidavit to Operate a Vehicle for Inspection completed and carried in the vehicle. To schedule an inspection or to obtain an Affidavit to Operate a Vehicle for Inspection from other than this website, contact the Iowa DOT's Bureau of Investigation & Identity Protection at 866-908-4636 or invbureau@dot.iowa.gov



Salvage vehicle frequently asked questions

 

 

 

 


How to request records

  • Records may be researched by vehicle identification number, name, title number and license plate number*.
  • Request may only be accepted in writing, by fax or in person.
  • Payment required prior to release of information.

The Federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, Pub. No. 106-69, }350(b) or 18 U.S.C. 2721, and Iowa Code 321.11 prohibits the disclosure of personal information about any individual from a motor vehicle record to the public without written consent of the person to whom the information pertains.

*Personal information of motor vehicle records may be released under provisions as outlined under the Federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act and Iowa Code 321.11.

Office of Vehicle & Motor Carrier Services
Iowa Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 9278
Des Moines, Iowa 50306-9278
Fax: 515-237-3056

Fees

Searches $5/15 minutes or a fraction thereof
Computer copies $1/printed record
Photocopies $0.10/printed record
Certified copies $0.50/printed record
Escrow accounts Escrow accounts may be established.
No fees applied if records not found.

Privacy act agreement for request of motor vehicle records

To obtain personal information from motor vehicle records and/or by plate number, a Privacy Act Agreement For Request of Motor Vehicle Records form, must be completed and submitted for approval to:

Office of Vehicle & Motor Carrier Services
Iowa Department of Transportation 
P.O. Box 9278
Des Moines, Iowa  50306-9278


 

Iowa driver's license issuance sites
To find a driver's license issuance site, enter a ZIP code or click on the map below - it does not have to be in the county where you reside. View full size map

 DOT drivers license offices
 County drivers license offices
 Kiosk locations
(learn more about kiosks)

Driver's license stations by county

Adair Clay Hancock Madison Sac
Adams Clayton Hardin Mahaska Scott
Allamakee Clinton Harrison Marion Shelby
Appanoose Crawford Henry Marshall Sioux
Audubon Dallas Howard Mills Story
Benton Davis Humboldt Mitchell Tama
Black Hawk Decatur Ida Monona Taylor
Boone Delaware Iowa Monroe Union
Bremer Des Moines Jackson Montgomery Van Buren
Buchanan Dickinson Jasper Muscatine Wapello
Buena Vista Dubuque Jefferson O'Brien Warren
Butler Emmet Johnson Osceola Washington
Calhoun Fayette Jones Page Wayne
Carroll Floyd Keokuk Palo Alto Webster
Cass Franklin Kossuth Plymouth Winnebago
Cedar Fremont Lee Pocahontas Winneshiek
Cerro Gordo Greene Linn Polk Woodbury
Cherokee Grundy Louisa Pottawattamie Worth
Chickasaw Guthrie Lucas Poweshiek Wright
Clarke Hamilton Lyon Ringgold  

Kiosk locations

  County Address
Altoona Library Polk 700 Eighth St. SW
Ames Library Story 515 Douglas Ave.
Ankeny Driver License Issuance Site Polk 6310 SE Convenience Blvd. 
Bettendorf Library Scott 2950 Learning Campus Dr.
Burlington Library Des Moines 210 Court St.
Cedar Falls Library Black Hawk 524 Main St.
Cedar Rapids Hy-Vee Linn 3235 Oakland Road NE
Council Bluffs Hy-Vee Pottawattamie 2323 W. Broadway
Davenport Hy-Vee Scott 2200 West Kimberly Road
Des Moines Hy-Vee – east side Polk 2540 E. Euclid
Des Moines Hy-Vee - south side Polk 1107 SE Army Post Road
Des Moines Library (downtown) Polk 1000 Grand Ave.
Dubuque Hy-Vee on Arterial Dubuque 2395 NW Arterial
Dubuque Hy-Vee on Locust Dubuque 400 S. Locust St.
Iowa City Library Johnson 123 S. Linn St.
Marion Library Linn 1095 Sixth Ave.
Marshalltown Hy-Vee Marshall 802 S. Center St.
Mason City Hy-Vee Cerro Gordo 2400 Fourth St. SW
North Liberty Library Johnson 520 W. Cherry St.
Ottumwa Hy-Vee Wapello 1025 North Quincy Ave.
Sioux City Kum& Go Woodbury 1925 S. Lakeport St.
Waterloo Library Black Hawk 415 Commercial St.
Waukee Hy-Vee Dallas 1005 East Hickman Road
West Des Moines Library Polk 4000 Mills Civic Parkway


Vehicle registration and titling information
Vehicle registration is handled by your county treasurer's office. Please contact them for questions regarding your registration fees.

Office of Vehicle & Motor Carrier Services

Mailing address

Office of Vehicle & Motor Carrier Services
P.O. Box 10382
Des Moines, IA  50306-0382

Address

Office of Vehicle & Motor Carrier Services
6310 SE Convenience Blvd.
Ankeny, IA 50021

Monday - Friday

8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.


If you are a new carrier and are coming into the office to register for International Registration Plan (IRP) and/or International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA), you need to be here no later than 2 p.m.

If you are coming into the office for assistance with your IRP renewal, you need to be here no later than 4 p.m.

Holiday closings

New Years Day
Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015
Martin Luther King Day
Monday, Jan. 19, 2015
Memorial Day
Monday, May 25, 2015
Independence Day
Friday, July 3, 2015
Labor Day
Monday, Sept. 7, 2015
Veterans Day
Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015
Thanksgiving
Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015
Friday, Nov. 27, 2015
Christmas
Friday, Dec. 25, 2015

Personalized and specialty plates

Click on a plate for more information, to see a larger version and type in personalized text.


College and university plates
Military service plates