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  • Custom Built Car Registration in Iowa

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    Custom Built Car Registration in Iowa

    Just like any other motor vehicle, your custom-built car must be registered at your county treasurer's office. However, there are a few special regulations that apply to specially constructed, reconstructed, and kit motor vehicles.

    Continue reading this page to find out how to apply for a title and registration for your custom vehicle, and get some direction on how to register a salvaged vehicle.

    Registering Your Custom-Built Vehicle

    You'll need to visit your local county treasure's office to apply for a title and registration for your custom-built vehicle.

    Before you submit your application, an Iowa Department of Transportation representative will determine if your vehicle complies with the appropriate safety guidelines.

    You'll need to show the following:

    Once the ownership of all parts and components has been verified, the office will assign an identification number to the vehicle. This paves the way for you to title and register your custom car.

    According to legislation, the owner of a specially constructed or reconstructed vehicle must apply for a certificate of title and registration within 30 days of the DOT inspection. If you fail to apply for registration in a timely manner, you will be subject to the same fines and penalties as drivers of other types of motor vehicles.

    NOTE: You'll need to make significant changes to the original external appearance for it to be considered a specially constructed, replica, reconstructed, or street rod vehicle. When you make an exchange compatible parts, the department will not consider this designation appropriate for your vehicle.

    Applying for a Bonded Certificate of Title

    If your vehicle cannot be registered because you are lacking the proper title documents, you may apply for a bonded certificate of title.

    However, if a junking certificate was issued to your vehicle, it can't be reinstated through the bonding process unless it is at least 25 years old. You'll need to:

    If the department finds a record for the vehicle, they will notify the last recorded owner on file that an application for a bonded certificate of title was submitted. If they do not receive a response from the owner on record within 10 days after the date of the mail correspondence, they will continue processing the application.

    The DOT will determine the current value of the vehicle and reflect it on the bonded title. They will also send a letter to your county treasurer's office authorizing them to issue a title for the vehicle. An investigator will contact you to make an appointment to verify the information you submitted on your application.

    If everything checks out, the investigator will provide you with an authorization letter. You'll need to submit it to your county treasurer within 30 days of receiving your notice from the DOT. You'll then be able to apply for your title and registration.

    Salvaged Vehicles

    Generally, a salvaged vehicle that has been restored is considered to be slightly different from a custom-built car. The Iowa DOT has additional information.