Iowa Car Registration: The Guide to Getting on the Road

Those looking to process their Iowa car registration can rest assured the steps aren’t difficult.

Registering your car or truck in Iowa requires just a few forms and fees. The passenger car, SUV, or the van registration process shouldn’t take longer than a few hours. Registration is a requirement whether you’ve purchased a new vehicle or used it through a private or dealer sale.

Your main tasks include satisfying:

  • Proof of identification
  • Registration/Title Application
  • Proof of ownership

…plus, any applicable vehicle testing and disclosures.

You will register your vehicle at a local Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT). The steps for registration vary depending on if the vehicle was purchased through a private party or dealership.

We’ve outlined the Iowa car registration process, keeping it as easy as possible.

Registering Your Car in Iowa: Step-by-Step

All vehicle registrations are completed at Iowa treasurer or approved locations. Insurance is not a requirement during registration but is a necessity if you drive on state roads and highways.

Out-of-state drivers are expected to register a vehicle within 30 days of state residency.

Registration for Private Vehicles

Private sales may or may not include the vehicle’s title. Sales involving the seller owning the title will follow the normal procedure. You may process a title transfer on-location or through other means if the owner does not have the title on hand.

How you’ll register a vehicle in Iowa:

  1. Go to your nearest IA DMV office
  2. Present your IA driver’s license
  3. File an Application of Title and/or Registration for a Vehicle (411007)
    1. Or: Application for Certificate of Title and/or Registration of a Leased Vehicle (411179)
  4. Submit your vehicle information:
    1. Vehicle title
    2. Bill of Sale
    3. Odometer statement
    4. Damage disclosure (if applicable)
  5. Pay your registration, taxes, and fees
    1. Vehicles (12 years and older): $50
    2. Multipurpose vehicles: $55
    3. Specialty vehicles: $60
    4. Trucks, Tractors, Busses: see chart
    5. 5% – 1% list price (if applicable)
    6. $0.40/100lbs weight fee

You will receive your new plates and registration on the spot.

Registration for Dealer Vehicles

Most dealerships submit your vehicle information and paperwork. This information is forwarded to the Iowa Division of Motor Vehicles. You should receive temporary tags until the state sends the license plates in the mail within a week or two.

If dealers don’t provide this service, get your documents and proceed with the steps listed above.

Set a Reminder for Registration Renewal

You’ll want to mark your calendar else wait to receive a renewal notice when it comes time. See our IA registration renewal guide for more information when you’re ready.

Congratulations! You’ve got your own set of wheels!