Registering a motor vehicle in Iowa

Looking for interstate registration for commercial vehicles?

Iowa law requires you to title and register your motor vehicle with the county treasurer’s office in your county, or an Iowa county contiguous (bordering) 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.
  3. As of January 1, 2022, a bill of sale is required per Iowa Department of Revenue.

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.

To renew a vehicle registration

You are required to renew your vehicle registration in your county of residence. You may renew your registration online at


Title a brand-new vehicle purchased from a dealer

Title a newly purchased (used) vehicle with an Iowa title

Title a newly purchased (used) vehicle with an Out-of-state (non-Iowa) title

Additional information

Registering government agency & school district vehicles

Iowa Code 321.18 and 321.19 allow school districts and government agencies to apply to the Iowa DOT for title and registration of school district- or agency-owned vehicles, and to receive a permanent registration certificate and registration plates for these vehicles without charge.

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 the applicant is unable to obtain correct title documents for a vehicle, a title bond is required as a condition of titling. Following are typical situations which require a title bond:

  • applicant is unable to obtain a title from the seller;
  • applicant receives a title from the seller but the VIN or other pertinent data is incorrect and a corrected document cannot be obtained;
  • vehicle was junked and is 25 years old or older.
  • unreleased security interest holder cannot be located to release security interest.

Application for the bond title must be made on an “Application for Registration and Bonded Certificate of Title for a Vehicle” form 411008. The form specifies the additional information which must be submitted with the application to VMCS.


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