If you’re a new resident of Iowa, or a current resident who has purchased a new vehicle, you must go to a Motor Vehicle Department office.
When you register your vehicle, you can choose a standard license plate or upgrade to a customized plate with personalization.
The Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) of Iowa issues various types of license plates.
You can register your vehicle and receive the standard license plate, which has a farm scene and dark blue lettering.
Or you can apply for custom plates, such as:
These custom plates include fees in addition to the standard registration fees.
Finally, for people with disabilities, you can register for license plates and placards, depending on your eligibility:
Contact your local MVD office for more information about plates and placards for people with disabilities.
If you’d like to add some personalization to your license plate, you can choose the characters to be printed on it.
You must follow the guidelines provided by the DOT in Iowa:
If your application for personalized plates is approved, it will cost $25 to order these plates and an additional $5 each year at renewal. You can check to see available plate numbers by searching online.
Are you interested in supporting a charity, or do you want to show off your association with a club or organization? Iowa has a huge selection of customized license plates that you can add to your car. Here are a few popular styles available:
You can apply for custom plates online or by visiting an MVD office and filing an application. Be sure to make your payment, which varies by plate style.
Note: Some custom styles include a donation to local charities or organizations printed on the plate.
You must go to an MVD office to register your vehicle and receive both license plates and registration stickers.
You must register your vehicle within:
When you register your vehicle, you’ll be required to bring the following:
After you have submitted your application, you may have to wait to receive your plates. It takes time to process custom or personalized plates.
If your license plates have been damaged, lost, or stolen, you can apply for replacements at the MVD offices.
For damaged plates, you must return them to the office upon applying for new ones. You’ll be required to submit the following, either in person or by mail:
Notes: Fees may be different depending on the county you live in.
In Iowa, your license plates remain with you, not with the vehicle. You’ll have to go to the office to register your new vehicle and transfer your plates.
If you do not transfer your plates, you can surrender them to the MVD and, if applicable, apply for a refund.
Note: You cannot transfer your license plates to another person. However, classic car owners using antique license plates may have to transfer their plates if the vehicle changes ownership. Contact the MVD for more details.
You are expected to surrender your license plates if:
To surrender your Iowa license plates, you can send them in by mail or drop them off in person.
Check your decal stickers to renew your vehicle’s registration before the expiration date. You can renew your vehicle simply by sending the payment to the MVD. You can do this:
Please do not send cash in the mail. Send a check or money order, and direct it to the MVD office.
There are standard fees to be paid when registering your vehicle in Iowa. These are some of the fees you may be obliged to pay:
Contact the MVD to get the full list of prices for vehicle registration and renewal.
A great way to see if a license plate is available for personalization is by looking it up online. Here you’ll find a quick and easy tool to search license plates in Iowa. Simply type in the plate number you want, and hit enter.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to look up Iowa License Plates and report bad drivers: