vehicle registration

Switching to Blackout Plates

If you currently have a personalized plate and would like to switch your personalized message from that plate to a new plate design you will need to complete the mail in form as we currently cannot complete this process online. You will be required to pay the $60 fee for your new personalized blackout plates. On the mail-in form, enter your current plate number/message in the space provided in Section A of the form and then re-enter the same information in Section B.

Your plates will be sent to your county treasurer's office and staff will notify you when your plates are available. Typical processing time is 3-6 weeks. You can check the status of your plate order at https://iowadot.gov/mvd/personalizedplates/home.aspx. Plates must be assigned to a vehicle within 90 days or the plates will be voided and no refund issued. Your current plates must be exchanged for your new plates.

Numbered Blackout Plates

Beginning Sept. 3, you will be able to exchange any plates for non-personalized blackout plates at your local county treasurer’s office, saving the two- to three-week order processing time if ordered online or by mail. Your new blackout plates will not have the same letter/number combination as your current plates. Specialty plate fees apply. Due to the change, non-personalized blackout plates will no longer be available to order online. 

Blackout plate

*Please note there are different requirements depending upon plate choice. Be sure to review the specific information for each plate.

Eligible vehicles Automobiles
Multipurpose vehicles
Sport utility vehicles
Vans
Motorcycles
Trucks
Motor homes
Trailers and travel trailers
Numbered plates
  • $35 initial fee for the Blackout Plate fee
  • $10 annual registration fee for the Blackout Plate renewal
  • Annual registration renewal fee

Plates (including personalized plates) may be purchased as a gift. Gift certificates will be mailed to the purchaser.

Personalized plates
  • $60 initial fee ($25 plate fee + $35 for Blackout Plate fee)
  • $15 annual registration fee ($5 validation fee + $10 for the Blackout Plate fee) at time of renewal
  • Annual registration renewal fee

Personalized license plates may consist of up to seven characters and numbers. All personalized plate choices must have at least two characters.

  • No punctuation marks are allowed.
  • No denoting a government agency (i.e., DOT).
  • No display of characters that are sexual in connotation.
  • No characters suggesting profane, obscene or inflammatory words or phrases, or those contrary to public policy.
  • No characters or words defined in dictionaries as a term of vulgarity, contempt, prejudice, hostility, insult, or racial or ethnic degradation.
  • No characters considered to be offensive.
  • No characters that conflict with the regular license numbering system.
  • Recognized as a swear word.
  • Reference to an illegal substance or criminal act.
  • Any foreign word falling in any of these categories.
  • No zeros.
  • Cannot be all numbers.
How to apply

Order online (You will need an Iowa Driver's license or ID and a credit card to complete the transaction.)

-OR-

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

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:  vscusto@iowadot.us

Your plates will be sent to your county treasurer's office and staff will notify you when your plates are available. Typical processing time is 3-6 weeks. You can check the status of your plate order at https://iowadot.gov/mvd/personalizedplates/home.aspx. Plates must be assigned to a vehicle within 90 days or the plates will be voided and no refund issued. Your current plates must be exchanged for your new plates.