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Iowa Buying a Vehicle

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Iowa has two mostly identical ways to process title and registration requests made when buying a new or a used vehicle. The following information should help you to streamline the process and avoid any misunderstandings at an Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) office.

Obtaining a Title and Registration for a Vehicle Bought from a Car Dealership

When you purchase a vehicle from a dealership in Iowa, the dealership should have the ability to remotely process title and registration changes for you. The idea is to make it easier for you to buy a vehicle while reducing lines and wait times at IDOT offices. The dealership should be able to process the title and registration and either provide a plate or a temporary placard until your license plate arrives. If a new vehicle has more than 1,000 miles on the odometer or a used vehicle is no more than eight model years old, then a damage disclosure must be provided to the buyer by the seller.

Obtaining a Title and Registration for a Vehicle Bought from a Private Party

When you buy from a private party, you will need to handle the title and registration transfers by going to a local IDOT office and submitting the proper paperwork. You will need the signed title by the former owner and a bill of sale indicating the selling price. You also will need to complete an Application for Iowa Certificate of Title and/or Registration form and provide IDOT with a damage disclosure form. If a lienholder had an interest in the purchased vehicle, a completed Cancellation of Security Interest form is needed to ensure the lienholder has canceled the lien.

Filling Out the Title

The title request form requires the buyer or buyers of a vehicle to provide their respective full names, dates of birth and either an Iowa driver’s license of ID number or a Social Security number. You also need to provide the address where the vehicle will be parked as well as the VIN number, make, model and year. An odometer reading is needed on new vehicles and used ones that are not rolled over.

Registering the Purchased Vehicle

You can register your vehicle with the same form that enables you to apply for the title. You do not need to complete and submit a separate registration form. IDOT will use the combined title and registration application to provide you with both after you pay the appropriate fees.

Submitting Payment

IDOT charges registration fees based on the model years of the respective registered vehicles. Annual registration fees range from $85 for vehicles that are at least six model years old up to $140 for vehicles that are between one and five model years old. Payment is made by check, money order, debit card or credit card at a local service center or online when renewing.

Last Verified:
Mar 4, 2023