Iowa Vehicle Registration

Iowa Vehicle Registration: Complete Guide

Iowa Vehicle RegistrationIf you’re buying a used car, make sure to check for information on the car’s history. This report includes the title, damage, and odometer data. After you have bought the car, you are required to register your vehicle with the state’s DMV.

Run a Free Vehicle Report:

To legally drive on public roads, make sure your vehicle is titled and registered with the Iowa DMV. The state’s law requires you to title a vehicle within 30 days of the purchase date.

Check out all the information you need here at if you want to:

How to Register your Vehicle as a New Iowa Resident

The State of Iowa requires all new residents to register their vehicles within 30 days of establishing residency in the state. Registration of the vehicle must be processed at your county treasurer’s office. Here are the requirements:

  • Documents to prove vehicle ownership such as:
    • odometer reading report’
    • title of the vehicle
  • Bill of Sale signed by the seller and buyer if the vehicle was purchased from a private party
  • Active car insurance policy

All fees will need to be paid at the time of registration.

After registration is complete, you will be given your new Iowa license plates.

How to Register an Out-of-State Vehicle in Iowa

New residents with vehicles registered outside Iowa must re-register their vehicle with the Iowa Department of Transportation. They must accomplish this within 30 days of establishing their residency. This applies even if their current out-of-state registration is still valid. The process is basically similar to registering a new vehicle:

  • Present your out-of-state title for the vehicle when processing your Iowa registration.
  • If not available, bring the registration document with the proof of payment for the sales tax.

Some Iowa counties do not accept applications if you cannot present the title. In this case, you can still pay a bond in order to receive your Iowa title and license plates.

How to Re-register a Salvaged Vehicle in Iowa

How to Re-register a Salvaged Vehicle in Iowa

In Iowa, a wrecked or damaged vehicle can be designated as a “salvage vehicle” if these are true:

  • The cost to repair will exceed 50% of the fair market value before it was damaged.
  • The vehicle’s fair market value was $500 or more before it was damaged.

A salvage title for the vehicle is processed in your local county and should be completed within 30 days. What if the owner decides to keep the damaged vehicle and repair it himself? It must still pass inspection from the Motor Vehicle Division before the owner can re-register it. Why? To ensure that the salvage vehicle was not repaired using stolen parts. Another reason is to ensure that the repaired vehicle meets the state’s safety standards.

Before inspection of the repaired vehicle, complete the Affidavit of Salvage Vehicle Repair. You will be granted a permit to drive the vehicle to and from the inspection site. Take note that this permit will be valid on the day of your appointment only. After getting the permit, schedule an inspection appointment with your  local certified law enforcement agency. You will receive a Salvage Theft Examination Certificate to present when applying for a new Iowa title.

Generally, here are the requirements for transferring your salvage title to a regular title:

  • Salvage title of the vehicle
  • Salvage Theft Examination Certificate
  • Auto insurance certification that states the following:
    • the insurance provider’s name and address
    • the salvage vehicle’s make and year
    • the VIN number
    • statement attesting that the costs of repair was less than $3,000.

How Do I Change My Address with Iowa DMV?

To change your mailing address, you must notify the Iowa Department of Transportation of the change within 30 days. To  your residential address as well, you will also need to apply for a new driver’s license or ID card.

Here’s how you can update your address:

  • Residential address:
    • in person via your local driver’s license station
    • at a driver’s license kiosk
    • Residential address:
    • Mailing address:
  • Mailing address:

Driver & Identification Services
Iowa Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 9204
Des Moines, IA 50306

What if you just moved to a different county within the State of Iowa? You are required to notify your previous county treasurer’s office within 10 days after you move.The notification indicates information regarding the move and the new address. The county treasurer’s office will forward your vehicle registration information to your new county.

Take note that updating your address by fax, mail, or in person will only update your DOT records., you will need to apply for title or registration replacements that reflect your new address.

How to Transfer a Vehicle Between Family Members

A family member who receives a vehicle as a gift might not have to pay the registration fee. Inheriting a vehicle is also similar to buying, except that you will have to submit a death certificate and a copy of the will. For more details, contact the Iowa DOT for clarification.

Military Vehicle Registration in Iowa

A military personnel who is an Iowa resident must pay the same registration fees required from  other residents.

A nonresident military personnel is not required to register a vehicle in this state. The only requirement is vehicle registration in his state of residency or the state where he is stationed. If stationed within the state, they may register a vehicle in Iowa. The standard vehicle registration procedure is still followed. The same exceptions apply to passenger cars:

  • Fees on passenger cars and multipurpose vehicles are based on vehicle weight; the part based on value is not included.
  • Application for registration of a passenger car/multipurpose vehicle must include a certification of residency, attested to by the commanding officer of the nonresident.

Vehicle Registration Renewal in Iowa

You are required to renew your vehicle in your county of residence. You may renew your registration online, by mail or in person at your County Treasurer’s Office. You will receive a renewal notice for your vehicle registration before the expiration date.

How to Renew Your Iowa Vehicle Registration in Person

To renew your registration in person you will need to bring the following to your County Treasurer’s Office:

  • Registration renewal notice.
  • Payment for renewal fees.

How to Renew Your Iowa Vehicle Registration Online

You may renew your registration online if you have received a renewal notice with a PIN. You will need the following:

  • License plate number
  • Renewal notice
  • A Discover Card, MasterCard, Visa Card or Electronic Check

How to Renew Your Iowa Vehicle Registration By Mail

To renew your registration via mail, check your local Iowa DOT treasurer’s office for a mailing address.

Iowa Vehicle Registration Fees

As per Iowa Code: Section 321.109 and 321.115 through 321.124, annual registration fees for most motor vehicles will be 1.0% of the vehicle value, plus 40 cents per 100 pounds of the vehicle weight.

Once a motor vehicle is more than five model years old, the annual fee is reduced. Iowa Code: Section 321.113 establishes the following reduced fee schedule:

  • More than five model years old:  75.0% of the rate when the motor vehicle was new (i.e., 75.0% of 1.0%), plus 40 cents per 100 pounds. • More than six model years old:  50.0% of the rate when the motor vehicle was new, plus 40 cents per 100 pounds.
  • If a model year 1994 or newer motor vehicle is nine model years old or older, the annual fee is $35.
  • Model year 1993 or older:
    • The annual fee is 10.0% of the rate when the vehicle was new, plus 40 cents per 100 pounds:
      • If the vehicle has been titled in the same person’s name since it was new
      • Or the title to the vehicle was transferred prior to January 1, 2002